Saturday, November 23, 2013

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende

In Maya's Notebook, Maya, abandoned by her parents, is raised by her grandparents. Nini, her grandmother, is outspoken and a "force of nature". Her grandfather, Popo, becomes a stabilizing figure that Maya needs in her teenage years. When he dies, Maya goes crazy and gets into all kinds of trouble, including being enslaved by a drug dealer in Las Vegas. With the help of her grandmother, Maya is sent to live with Manuel, a friend of her grandmother's, on a remote island off the coast of Chile. Once there, Maya has to learn a new way of life while dealing with the past and the new people around her.

At first, I didn't know if I was going to like Allende's modern story. I've only read (and loved) a couple of her historical novels and I didn't know if it was going to work. However, there was no need to worry. This amazing story was extremely compelling.

The vivid details regarding Manuel's torture during the military coup and Maya's life in Las Vegas were definitely hard to read about. Despite this horror and sadness, though, Allende managed to include some humour in the overall story, which I appreciated. It gave me a much needed break.

I loved that Allende included lots of information about Chile and the island of ChiloƩ. What an amazing place! I love reading books set in places so different from where I live. It gives me a perspective on the world. Learning new things about the world is one of the reasons I love to read her books.

I liked all of the characters, but especially Maya and Manuel. Their relationship was unique; they seemed to be quite distant a lot of times, but I don't think they could have lived without each other. Besides them, one of my favourite characters was Freddy, the young man that Maya met in Vegas. His whole story was quite sad, but something about him appealed to me.

Even though I loved the book overall, I have two small complaints. The first is that the story doesn't necessarily read like a diary or notebook. The story works regardless, but then the title doesn't really fit. The second is the cover. I don't think it does the story justice. Generally, I don't like book covers with character photos, so it's just a personal bias.

The book contained a few new-to-me words. They are: inculcate (page 54): inspire, encourage odalisques (page 184): enslaved women in a harem

Highly recommended for fans; for those looking for a great read, and for those who haven't read Allende before because they aren't into historical fiction.   

For more information about this book, please visit the HarperCollins website.

I'd like to thank those nice people at HarperCollins for this review copy.

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende, Harper (HarperCollins), ©2013. ISBN 978062105622(Uncorrected Proof), 387p.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds good. I love reading about new places, too!


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