Monday, November 24, 2014

Review - Maya's Notebook by: Isabel Allende

Title: Maya's Notebook
Author: Isabel Allende
Publisher: Harper
Pages: 387
Format: Hardcover
Source: Personal purchase


Isabel Allende’s latest novel, set in the present day (a new departure for the author), tells the story of a 19-year-old American girl who finds refuge on a remote island off the coast of Chile after falling into a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution. There, in the company of a torture survivor, a lame dog, and other unforgettable characters, Maya Vidal writes her story, which includes pursuit by a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. In the process, she unveils a terrible family secret, comes to understand the meaning of love and loyalty, and initiates the greatest adventure of her life: the journey into her own soul.

My thoughts:

My first meeting with Chilean author Isabel Allende was with The House of the Spirits. The reason why I found out about her in the first place is because I'm always in the search for authors following Marquez's footsteps in "magical realism." Allende lived up to my expectations and The House of the Spirits was an amazing journey for me. Salvador Allende's granddaughter Isabel Allende really captures you by adding in her observations and imagination to her already interesting life. 

Then, ever since I started reading Maya's Notebook, I've been googling Chiloe Island. I keep looking at tours of the island, going, "I must see this place before I die." Maya paints such a wonderful picture of the island and she grows to love it so much that you can't help but want to go there and breathe in that magical air. I'm really, really dying to see a house be moved on the water tied to the back of a boat. I want to meet the witches of Chiloe, to attend their rituals. I want to get drunk at the saloon and listen to the stories of the locals...

Having said that, would I want to do all this with Maya, though? Nope.

Honestly, I believe Maya is Allende's way of showing the reader how she thinks today's youth lives in a bubble and how they lose themselves if that bubble is popped somehow. Maya's Chilean grandmother's past is as turbulent as the country's. However, Maya had the luxury of growing up with her grandmother and grandfather in Berkeley. After her grandfather passes away, she loses herself in drugs and alcohol, also getting involved with a gang leader and starting to work for him. Her grandmother, in her best attempt at protecting her from the people after her (which include the FBI, by the way) sends her away to Chiloe Island to stay with an old friend.

If you ask me which character I liked the most, I'll have to say nobody except the island locals. However, like I've mentioned before, Chiloe Island is so powerful, so magical that this book is worth reading even if just to experience that.

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