If there is any book that I can say have made a profound impact on my life, then it would be The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery. Misunderstood to be a children’s book by a surprisingly large number of people, The Little Prince is actually a book for young adults, providing us with thoughtful guidance and insights as we learn to navigate through life and all the complications and messes it brings us.
From the merits and demerits of religious worship and serving in the army, the self-destructive cycles of bad habits, greed and vanity, the limitations of perception and the importance of love and friendships, Saint-Expury reflects deeply on every important topics of life (or matters of consequence as he calls it) through the adventures of a little alien prince exploring the universe.
What I really loved about this book is that the author explored all of these topics without taking on the tone of a preacher. This book is an extremely short book–no more than 80 pages–and this makes the overall messages of the novella both precise and concise. The entire story unfolds in an episodic manner–each chapter detailing each of the little prince’s adventures as he explores the universe–which made the story a little repetitive, but this too was balanced by the author’s occasional switching of perspectives and narration style. Every scene featuring the little prince is written in a poignant, tender and whimsical style, while the scenes that discuss adulthood and the narrator’s own experiences of growing up were written matter-of-fact way, and sometimes regretfully. Personally, I loved this contrast in tones and styles because it helped me take in the many messages the author wanted to share with his readers–it added coherence to the story and prevented his reflections on life from becoming a massive, jumbled mess.
For some readers however, the amount of metaphors, personifications and symbolism in this story might be overwhelming. I loved each and every one of it, because I enjoy books that challenge me to both think and feel. This is not a story for entertainment, this is a story for reflection, for learning, and because of the sensitivity of the topics explored, this is a story that will move you and touch your soul if you choose to read it for personal growth. Fair warning though: there is no happy ending, or even a proper ending, and I believe this was one of the greatest lessons of life that Saint-Expury wanted to teach us: that life is meant to be bittersweet and uncertain, and is only worth living when you have unconditional love for your people and your work.