Jonathon Livingston Seagull – Review

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Jonathon Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach

Age: all

This illustrated short novel is about Jonathon, a seagull who is not content with the life laid out for him by his flock. While everyone else is content to merely living to eat, Jonathon yearns to fly and improve his understanding of his abilities as an avian creature. When he is cast out of the flock for his adventurous nature, he soon transcends his world into another and becomes a leader amongst seagulls for his innovative ways.

A fairly short and quick read, Jonathon Livingston Seagull (JLS) is your basic story of thinking outside the box and not conforming to the expected norm in your culture. The book is broken into three parts, with each part we follow Jonathon into a new arena of his life. There are religious undertones through the book that mostly start in Part 2. (Is Jonathon really the Messiah of the gulls?) In the many versions of the afterlife, there are sections of Jonathon teaching this new “faith” to his “disciples” as they try to convert many of the gulls still on Earth who aren’t happy with their lives.  I definitely was not expecting the religious themes in this book, so that caught me off guard. Its very in your face, the way the Narnia books by C.S. Lewis are religious. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, its just the main element of the book. So its probably not the book for Atheists or Agnostics. The main point of the book, for me at least, is that we should always stay true to our dreams and true natures despite what the community thinks.

Book 5 of 2011

Jonathon Livingston Seagull
by Richard Bach
Scribner, 1973
112 pages


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2 responses to “Jonathon Livingston Seagull – Review

  1. I’m a little stunned to find someone reading this book for the first time.

    I read it many, many times when I came out. I was in middle school and did own the spoken word album of it read by actor Richard Harris who had another hit record with McArthur Park. (Someone left a cake out in the rain – sweet green icing running down.)

    We practically worshiped J.L.S. back then, those of us who read and re-read the book. We saw it as largely outside the purview of organized religion, though.

  2. I first read this when I was a teen and loved it. True, I was a pretty religious person back then so I didn’t mind the messaging in the book. But even now that I’m not religious anymore, I still like the story for its ideas of individuality and striving for skills beyond just the drudgery to stay alive, and I still enjoy re-reading it from time to time.

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