Book Review: Let Me Tell You a Story

Let me tell you a storyAuthor: Jorge Bucay

Pages: 276

Year of publishing: 2005

Rating: ★★★✩✩

Related posts: Not yet available

Synopsis: Let Me Tell You a Story is a tender and delicate book about the search for happiness. Demián is highly strung young man, curious about the world and himself, but he has difficulty facing some of life’s everyday problems, those concerning work, his love life, and relationships with friends and family. He is eager to know more about himself and to learn how to confront life with gusto and serenity. In short, he wants what all of us want: to be happy and fulfilled.
Demián finds Jorge, an unconventional psychoanalyst who approaches Demián’s dilemma in an unconventional way. Every day, Jorge tells Demián a story. At times they are classic fables, others modern stories, or folk tales, stories that have been revisited and reshaped by the analyst to help his young friend overcome his doubts and find happiness. They are, in short, stories that can help every one of us better understand ourselves, our relationships, and our fears.

My review: For those who study literature, this books is a literary work similar to that Juan Manuel made in 1330 under the title of “Tales of Count Lucanor”. A didactic book, an essay that aims give us little lessons for make us happier and help to solve problems

This book is written in first person and the story takes place in the clinic of a therapist named as the author of the book. Demián, our principal protagonist, is a young man full of doubts that goes to Jorge’s clinic searching a solution for his problems. Jorge helps him to solve his problems telling short stories that contain in their end a didactic part that aims give an answer to the doubt that Demián poses in the start of each session.

Let Me Tell You a Story is not a book apt to be read in a day, each chapter requires a moment of reflection, it’s necessary to exploit the didactic part. personally I recommend read a chapter per day and think about the chapter during at least 10 minutes after finish it, I recommend think in how each chapter can be applied in our live and write about it. There are 51 chapter in total, each chapter contains his short story and his teaching.

It’s difficult write a review of a book that is written in this way, a book that every three or four pages tells a new story that it’s unrelated to previous, so instead of write more, I’m going to give you the first chapter of the book and then I’m going to write my valuation.


The Elephant in Chains

-I can’t – I told him – I can’t!

– Are you sure? – he asked me

– Yes, I would like nothing more than to be able to sit down face-to-face and tell her how I feel. But I know I can’t.

The Fat Man sat himself down like a buddha in one of the horrible blue armchairs in his office. He smiled, he looked me in the eyes and, lowering his voice as he did every time he wanted to be listened to attentively, he said:

– Let me tell you a story…

And without waiting for my approval, Jorge began.

When I was small, I used to love circuses, and what I liked best about them were the animals. The elephant in particular caught my attention, and as I later found out, other children liked the elephant too. During the performance, this enormous beast would nobly display its tremendous weight, size, and strength… But after its performance, and until just before it went out on stage, the elephant was always tied down with a chain to a little stake in the ground that held one of its feet.

The stake however was just a minuscule piece of wood, hardly a couple of centimeters long. And although it was a strong thick chain, it seemed obvious to me that an animal capable of tearing a tree from its roots, could easily free itself from that stake and flee.

This mystery continued to puzzle me. What held it there? Why didn’t it escape? When I was 5 or 6, I still trusted the explanations given by grownups. So, I asked my teacher, my father, and my uncle about the mystery of the elephant. One of them explained that the elephant didn’t escape because it had been mastered.

So I asked the obvious question: ” If it’s been mastered, why do they keep it in chains?”

I don’t remember having received a coherent answer. With time I forgot about the mystery of the elephant, I only remembered when I found others who had asked themselves the same question at some time.

Years later, I discovered that , to my luck, someone had been sufficiently wise to come up with the answer:

The circus elephant does not escape because it has been attached to a stake just like this one since it was very, very small.

I closed my eyes and imagined a defenseless baby elephant fastened to the stake. I am sure that in that moment, the little guy pushed and pulled and tired himself out trying to get free. But, regardless of his efforts, he couldn’t do it, because the stake was too strong for him.

I imagined him tuckering himself out and falling asleep and the next day trying again, and the next day, and the next. Until one day, a terrible day in its history, the animal accepted its futility and resigned itself to its fate.

That enormous powerful elephant that you see in the circus does not escape because, poor thing, he thinks he can’t.

He has that memory etched into his mind: the futility that he felt shortly after he was born.

And the worst part is that he has never returned to seriously question that memory.

Never again did he return to test his own strength…

It’s like that Demián. We are all a little bit like the circus elephant: we move through the world attached to hundreds of stakes that wrest from us our freedom.

We live thinking “we can’t”, making mountains of things simply because once, a long time ago, when we were small, we tried to do something and couldn’t.

We do the same thing to ourselves that the elephant did, we etch into our minds this message: “I can’t – I can’t and I will never try.”

We grow up carrying this message that we impose on ourselves, because of which we never return to try to free ourselves from the stake.

When, every so often, we feel our shackles and jangle the chains, we look out of the corners of our eyes at the stake and think

I can’t and I never will.

Jorge paused for a long time. Then he came closer, he sat down on the floor in front of me and continued:

– That’s what is happening to you Demián. You go on living conditioned by the memory of a Demián who no longer exists, who couldn’t do it.

Your only way of knowing if you can do it is to try again, putting your whole heart into it… Your whole heart!


This book is not so entertaining as the science fiction books to which we are accustomed, his function isn’t be entertaining, but neither be informative or exclusively didactic, is a mixture of both functions and the result is a book of stories with a didactic intention. Many people have complained that this book leaves no space to reflection, but the truth is that you must search it by yourself. You cant finish a chapter and read the next immediately after, close the book and think about the chapter that you have read, that’s the space for reflection. if you want value this book correctly, you must know how read it. My valuation for this book is 3/5, is a practical book, a bit entertaining, but in my opinion I cant give it a higher rating.

What’s your valuation for this book? I hope your opinion in the comments box and if you like this post, share it in your social networks. Thank you so much!

See you!

Written by: Josué.

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