Old Man and the Sea is not overrated, but it is monumentally overhyped. Hype backlash ruins many things that are great, or good, or even not bad. Hemingway earned an enormous amount of criticism for his stripped-down style, but his lasting popularity shows how simple prose and solid storytelling can overcome all the pretentious literary tricks in the world. However, the punishment for overcoming convention is to be judged in every action, and the acceptance of this particular story in literary and educational circles means that it will be treated with the same suspicion as other books forced on unwilling students; old-fashioned, they will say, boring, no point, nothing happens. Reading for personal pleasure is a habit children come into on their own; reading for school is work, and will be viewed as such, even if you assign the most interesting and least literary book in the world.