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.
|Publish Date:||Apr 2013|
|Number of Pages:||387|
|Shipping Weight (in pounds):||1.35|
|Product in Inches (L x W x H):||6.5 x 9.5 x 1.25|
As niece of fallen Chilean president Salvador Allende, Isabel Allende attracted immediate interest when she appeared on the U.S. literary scene in the mid-1980's. On its own merits, though, The House of the Spirits (1982; English translation 1985) is a superb novel. Four generations of Chilean women-female descendants of an oligarchic family-provide a unifying thread and feminine consciousness for a fictional history of a Latin American society. Allende is often compared to Colombia's Gabriel Garcia Marquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude is something of a Marxist fictional history of Latin America.
Allende skillfully constructs a novel in which one generation of women pass on to the next a legacy of survival strategies and profound human understanding within oppressive social structures. Allende's combination of the personal and the political in the person of the youngest women unmistakably evokes Allende's socialist government, the subsequent military overthrow and neo fascist dictatorship, and resistance to tyranny. Allende's fiction after The House of the Spirits, both novels and short stories, is weaker but remains commercially successful in English translation.
Some of its elements reinforce U.S. myths about Latin America, especially the questionable concept of a subaltern feminist solidarity. This matriarchy, captured in the person of Eva Luna, who gives her name to one novel and a collection of short stories, threatens to usurp the legendary patriarchy. Nevertheless, along with Argentina's Luisa Valenzuela, Allende remains the most prominent Latin American woman writer on the U.S. literary scene, and the critical response to her writing has indeed been impressive. Allende, who lives a good part of the time in the United States, is much in demand as a speaker.
International best-selling novelist Allende (In es of My Soul) delivers a no-holds-barred story of Maya Vidal, a troubled 19-year-old American living in exile on Chiloe, a remote island off the coast of Chile. Over the span of one year, Maya records in her notebooks how she arrived on the island and regained her life there. She was raised in Berkeley, CA, by unconventional grandparents, Chilean native Nini and Popo, an African American astronomy professor.
When her beloved Popo died, Maya's world fell apart; a few wrong turns led her into drugs, shoplifting, and then, in Las Vegas, to an association with a despicable drug dealer named Brandon, whose hidden cache of counterfeit money she revealed. Soon, a corrupt cop, Brandon's killers, and the FBI were all after her. Nini sent her to the bottom of the world to stay with Manuel, an anthropologist writing a book on magic in Chiloe. Surrounded by the accepting Chilean villagers, Maya learns about herself, her heritage, and her connection to Chile's turbulent past.
Verdict: Allende paints a vivid picture contrasting Maya's drug-clouded past and her recovery in Chiloe. Yet another accomplished work by a master storyteller that will enthrall and captivate. This is a must-read.
[See Prepub Alert, 11/12/12.] - Donna -Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO
(c). Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
Maya’s Notebook is a startling novel of suspense from New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende.
This contemporary coming-of-age story centers upon Maya Vidal, a remarkable teenager abandoned by her parents. Maya grew up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandmother Nini, whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973 with a young son, and her grandfather Popo, a gentle African-American astronomer.
When Popo dies, Maya goes off the rails. Along with a circle of girlfriends known as "the vampires," she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime--a downward spiral that eventually leads to Las Vegas and a dangerous underworld, with Maya caught between 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. In the care of her grandmother’s old friend, Manuel Arias, and surrounded by strange new acquaintances, Maya begins to record her story in her notebook, as she tries to make sense of her past and unravel the mysteries of her family and her own life.
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