By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho

“If pain must come, may it come quickly. Because I have a life to live, and I need to live it in the best way possible. If he has to make a choice, may he make it now. Then I will either wait for him or forget him.

– Paulo Coelho, “By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept”


From the best-selling author of The Alchemist, comes the first in a loosely related trilogy of books tackling the great questions of life. By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept is a story of an adolescent love that got a second chance.

Pilar (pih-LAHR) was raised in a Spanish village by Catholic parents and taught to never question her faith. Her parents and teachers taught her to never question authority, but such a life was not what Pilar wanted. Her faith as since withered and quite possibly died. She tries her best to suppress her unhappiness and fit in with society’s expectations of who she should become. She has been hurt by those she loved in the past, and that includes her beloved childhood friend.

But a chance meeting with her friend gives Pilar another opportunity to discover who she is meant to become as well as to rediscover friendship and love.

There’s only one slight problem. Pilar’s friend has a spiritual gift from the Virgin Mary. Not only is he an extremely eloquent and charismatic speaker, he might also be able to perform healing miracles. He is in seminary to become a Catholic priest. He’ll have to chose who he wants to be most intimate with – the the feminine aspect of God through the Virgin Mary, to whom he is a disciple, or Pilar and humanity?

Is there a way to be fully immersed in the divine and fully immersed in a seemingly ordinary human life at the same time?

Coelho’s book is a unique take on what it means to sacrifice, to love, and to follow God. Although parts of the narrative didn’t grab me as much as I would have wanted them too, the questions were all too compelling and made this read a solid five star experience.

“Waiting is painful. Forgetting is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering.”

– Paulo Coelho, “By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept”


  • It’s a relatively quick read.
  • The story is full of deep thoughts and questions about love, life, and how God is both without feeling preachy.
  • You’ll question what you’d do if you were in the situation of either main character. It is easy to relate to the story even if you are not particularly religious.
  • FEMININE ASPECT OF GOD!!! It’s so nice to see this explored. So few realize that The Holy Spirit is characterized in Hebrew as female. Early Christian Greeks recognized the Wisdom of God as female by the name of Sophia. It’s nice to see God moved beyond the small box of pronouns that we like to try to box God into.


  • The unnamed male character bothered me. Just give him a name. He doesn’t have to be that mystical.


  • ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

“You have to take risks, he said. We will only understand the miracle of life fully when we allow the unexpected to happen. Every day, God gives us the sun–and also one moment in which we have the ability to change everything that makes us unhappy. Every day, we try to pretend that we haven’t perceived that moment, that it doesn’t exist–that today is the same as yesterday and will be the same as tomorrow. But if people really pay attention to their everyday lives, they will discover that magic moment. It may arrive in the instant when we are doing something mundane, like putting our front-door key in the lock; it may lie hidden in the quiet that follows the lunch hour or in the thousand and one things that all seem the same to us. But that moment exists–a moment when all the power of the stars becomes a part of us and enables us to perform miracles.”

– Paulo Coelho, “By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept”

Recommended For:

  • Those exploring their Christian faith.
  • Those wanting to take a deeply spiritual but not quite mainstream look at Christianity.
  • Those wanting a story of young childhood friends who get a second chance at love and friendship.

Books to Read if You Loved By the River Piedra, I Sat Down and Wept:

Let’s Discuss! (Pick a question and drop a comment with your reply!)

  • Why would or wouldn’t you read a book with a new or unexplored concept about your religion with which you might not agree?
  • Have you ever read a book that made you want to explore an aspect of religion or faith? If so, what book was it and what did it make you want to experience with greater depth?

8 responses to “By the River Piedra I Sat Down and Wept by Paulo Coelho”

  1. I’ve stumbled a few Paulo Coelho quotes so I kinda have an idea how good he is. This review is awesome, makes me want to finally pick up my first PC book. ❤️

    – paperimaginings


    1. I hope you love it when you do!


  2. Paulo Coehlo is one of my favourite authors @thebookaholic_dentist


    1. I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did. I hope it’s great for you too!


    2. Oh, awesome! I definitely look forward to reading more by him.


  3. Cherry (@chezzreads on Instagram) Avatar
    Cherry (@chezzreads on Instagram)

    Thank you for your review! This ones been on my radar for a bit so I’m officially adding it to my tbr now😌


  4. Prashant Kamani Avatar
    Prashant Kamani

    It’s a lovely book as summarised in the review, a huge fan of Paulo Coelho.. thank you Wren for writing a beautiful review. My Twitter handle for Giveaway : @kamaniprashant


    1. This is the first I’ve read by him, so I’m definitely going to have to read more!


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