Today’s tour is for a story of a life almost wasted, then redeemed through love and friendship…
About Isabel Allende:
Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of many bestselling novels, including, most recently, Island Beneath the Sea, Ines of My Soul, Zorro, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. She has also written a collection of stories; three memoirs, The Sum of Our Days, My Invented Country, and Paula; and a trilogy of young adult novels. Her books have been translated into more than 27 languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Allende lives in California.
About Maya’s Notebook:
Neglected by her parents, nineteen-year-old Maya Nidal has grown up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandparents. Her grandmother Nidia, affectionately known as Nini, is a force of nature—willful and outspoken, unconventionally wise with a mystical streak, and fiercely protective—a woman whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973. Popo, Maya’s grandfather, is an African American astronomer and professor—a gentle man whose solid, comforting presence helps calm the turbulence of Maya’s adolescence.
When Popo dies of cancer, Maya goes completely off the rails. With her girlfriends—a tight circle known as the Vampires—she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime, a downward spiral that eventually bottoms out in Las Vegas. Lost in a dangerous underworld, she is caught in the crosshairs of warring forces—a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. Her one chance for survival is Nini, who helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile. Here Maya tries to make sense of the past, unravels mysterious truths about life and about her family, and embarks on her greatest adventure: the journey into her own soul.
Maya’s Notebook is the story of a young woman who’s done more than her fair share of living dangerously. Maya Vidal spends a precocious childhood with her grandparents, then completely derails when her grandfather dies. She’s adrift, hanging with all of the wrong sorts of people, and gets into more trouble than she can imagine. Intervention helps physically, but brings rebellion and resentment, and when Maya runs away from treatment, she finds herself in deeper trouble yet.
Told in current time alternating with her past, we meet Maya, then find out what she’s been through. We learn she’s hiding out at the bottom of the world, though not necessarily why until the last quarter of Maya’s Notebook. We follow as she descends into the depths of despair, then finds her way back to hope, love, and joy. This is a difficult journey to go along on, told in a such frank voice that you watch Maya’s life unfold as you read. You sigh and shake your head as she tumbles headlong into trouble, you pat her on the back when she accepts responsibility for her own decisions that led her to hell in a handbasket, and you hug her in celebration as she realizes that life is worth living, that there are wonderful people who care about her, that there’s so much more that’s waiting for her – that’s loads better than what she’s been through already.
I loved Isabel Allende’s story-telling. She weaves characters with plenty of personality and verve, puts them in circumstance beyond their control, and takes us on an emotional and spellbinding journey of life, love, and redemption. Maya’s Notebook will make you weep for what Maya goes through, laugh at Nini’s quirks, and cheer for the Chilotes as they rally around one of their own, a few generations removed. Definitely add this to your summer reading!
drey’s rating: Excellent!
Have you read Maya’s Notebook? What did you think? And if you haven’t, read on to win your own copy!
Thanks to the publisher and TLC Book Tours, I have one copy of Maya’s Notebook for you. This one’s open to US & Canada residents. To enter, fill out the form below before May 21st. Good luck!
Listen to Isabel Allende talk about Maya’s Notebook: