Maya's Notebook

( 91 )

Overview

Neglected by her parents, nineteen-year-old Maya Nidal grows up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Nidia, affectionately known as Nini, is a force of nature—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...

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Overview

Neglected by her parents, nineteen-year-old Maya Nidal grows up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandparents. Her grandmother, Nidia, affectionately known as Nini, is a force of nature—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 Maya turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime, eventually bottoming 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 her family, and embarks on her greatest adventure: the journey into her own soul.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Allende (The House of the Spirits) moves away from her usual magical realist historical fiction into a contemporary setting, and the result is a chaotic hodgepodge. The story, told through 19-year-old Maya Vidal’s journals, alternates between Maya’s dismal past and uncertain present, which finds her in hiding on an isolated island off Chile’s coast, where her grandmother, Nidia, has taken her. Maya’s diary relates a journey into self-destruction that begins, after her beloved step-grandfather Popi’s death, with dangerous forays into sex, drugs, and delinquency, but ends up in a darkly cartoonish crime caper, as she becomes involved with gangsters in Las Vegas. Maya describes her present surroundings, meanwhile, with a bland detachment that would be more believable coming from an anthropologist than a teenager. Allende’s trademark passion for Chile is as strong as ever, and her clever writing lends buoyancy to the narrative’s deadweight, but this novel is unlikely to entrance fans old or new. Agent: Carmen Balcells, Carmen Balcells Agency. (May)
Booklist
"An explosive novel…Every character is enthralling…This is a boldly plotted, sharply funny, and purposefully bone-shaking novel of sexual violence, political terror, "collective shame," and dark family secrets, all transcended by courage and love."
Kirkus Reviews
A 19-year-old Californian escapes her troubled past when her grandmother sends her to an isolated Chilean community in the latest confection of spiritual uplift, political instruction and lyrical melodrama from Allende (Island Beneath the Sea, 2010, etc.). In 2009, Berkley-born and -bred Maya arrives in Chiloé, an isolated island community in southern Chile, to escape the drug dealers and law enforcement officials on her trail. Her eponymous notebook combines a record of Maya's not-so-gradual immersion into the Chiloé community with her memories of an idyllic childhood and horrifically wayward adolescence. Because her Scandinavian mother deserted her in infancy and her father traveled constantly as a pilot, Maya was largely raised by her paternal grandparents, Nini and Popo. Popo, a gentle African-American astronomer, is actually Chilean-born Nini's second husband; she left Chile with her son after her first husband's arrest/torture/murder by Pinochet forces. While Maya has always loved fiery Nini, Popo was the steadying center of her girlhood. After his death, Maya dove headlong into a life of addiction and criminality, ending up on the streets of LA, where she became a drug runner and worse. But all that ugliness seems far away as she settles into Chiloé, living with and assisting Nini's old friend Manuel, an anthropologist researching the mythology of the Chilotes. Maya, who is visited at times by visions of her Popo, builds a special relationship with Manuel--her curiosity about Manuel's relationship to Nini gives Allende an excuse to explore the dark history of 1970s Chile. Maya also coaches the local kids at soccer and falls in love with a backpacking psychiatrist from Seattle, a gentle romance that contrasts starkly with her memories of rape and violation. Despite her enthusiasm for her new life, Maya remains in danger: She knows secrets criminals might kill for if they can just find her. Allende is a master at plucking heartstrings, and Maya's family drama is hard to resist, but the sentimentality and a lack of subtlety concerning politics, Chilean and American, can grate.
John Barron
What sets Maya’s Notebook apart from the usual teen-in-trouble fare is the soaring redemption Maya finds in Chile. The village’s peaceful pace is a tonic to both Maya and the reader…a captivating read by a great storyteller.”
Maribel Molyneaux
“A brilliant storyteller, Allende creates a giant spiderweb of relationships; pull one thread and the whole structure shudders…fans of Allende and those new to her work will find a great deal of satisfaction in following the often-harrowing but always enlightening adventures of Maya Vidal.”
Miami Herald
“A gritty, violent, cautionary tale set firmly in the present…But the writing is still all Allende: driven by emotion…framed by her brand of lyrical description.”
San Jose Mercury News
“Maya’s Notebook sings a contemporary tune…the narrative expands from harsh twenty-first century language to lyrical descriptions of Maya’s unfolding exterior and interior worlds. It’s a coming-of-age tale achieved by immersion in ageless wisdom…the beauty of Allende’s writing remains undeniable.”
Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Maya’s story is soul-restoring in its fierce conviction that there is no damage done to a society, family or individual that cannot be eclipsed by hope and love. Allende makes you believe that, even if you don’t, at least for a while.”
Seattle Times
“Longtime fans of Isabel Allende’s work will find much of the author’s beguiling mix of clear-eyed toughness and lightness of spirit in her new protagonist, and will welcome another chapter in Allende’s continuing exploration of Latin America. Those introduced to Allende by Maya’s Notebook surely will want more.”
Entertainment Weekly
“Allende can spin a yarn with the grace of a poet.”
Jane Ciabattari
“Gripping…Allende retains the storytelling magic that is her signature, while deftly juxtaposing the alternating universes of the past-including Chile’s dark history of political terror-and present…A tale of a girl’s journey toward self-discovery, of the fierce power of truth, and of the healing force of love.”
Vanity Fair
“Isabel Allende enchants in Maya’s Notebook.”
Booklist (starred review)
“An explosive novel…Every character is enthralling…This is a boldly plotted, sharply funny, and purposefully bone-shaking novel of sexual violence, political terror, “collective shame,” and dark family secrets, all transcended by courage and love.”
Reed Johnson
“Bruising and cinematically vivid…Maya’s Notebook exerts a raw and genuine power…Its strength is Maya’s distinctive voice: vulnerable but spiked with irony, wounded yet defiant, like a teenage emo-punk’s pierced tongue.”
Malena Watrous
“A riveting new novel…From the very start, Maya is in possession of a strong and authentic voice that guides the novel and gives it shape.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780062105622
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 4/23/2013
  • Edition description: Translatio
  • Pages: 387
  • Sales rank: 137,769
  • Product dimensions: 6.30 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 1.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Isabel Allende is the bestselling author of twelve works of fiction, four memoirs, and three young-adult novels, which have been translated into more than thirty-five languages with sales in excess of fifty-seven million copies. She is the author most recently of the bestsellers Maya's Notebook, Island Beneath the Sea, Inés of My Soul, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the Hans Christian Andersen Literary Award in 2012. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.

Biography

In Isabel Allende's books, human beings do not exist merely in the three-dimensional sense. They can exert themselves as memory, as destiny, as spirits without form, as fairy tales. Just as the more mystical elements of Allende's past have shaped her work, so has the hard-bitten reality. Working as a journalist in Chile, Allende was forced to flee the country with her family after her uncle, President Salvador Allende, was killed in a coup in 1973.

Out of letters to family back in Chile came the manuscript that was to become Allende's first novel. Her arrival on the publishing scene in 1985 with The House of the Spirits was instantly recognized as a literary event. The New York Times called it "a unique achievement, both personal witness and possible allegory of the past, present and future of Latin America."

To read a book by Allende is to believe in (or be persuaded of) the power of transcendence, spiritual and otherwise. Her characters are often what she calls "marginal," those who strive to live on the fringes of society. It may be someone like Of Love and Shadows 's Hipolito Ranquileo, who makes his living as a circus clown; or Eva Luna, a poor orphan who is the center of two Allende books (Eva Luna and The Stories of Eva Luna).

Allende's characters have in common an inner fortitude that proves stronger than their adversity, and a sense of lineage that propels them both forward and backward. When you meet a central character in an Allende novel, be prepared to meet a few generations of his or her family. This multigenerational thread drives The House of the Spirits, the tale of the South American Trueba family. Not only did the novel draw Allende critical accolades (with such breathless raves as "spectacular," "astonishing" and "mesmerizing" from major reviewers), it landed her firmly in the magic realist tradition of predecessor (and acknowledged influence) Gabriel García Márquez. Some of its characters also reappeared in the historical novels Portrait in Sepia and Daughter of Fortune.

"It's strange that my work has been classified as magic realism," Allende has said, "because I see my novels as just being realistic literature." Indeed, much of what might be considered "magic" to others is real to Allende, who based the character Clara del Valle in The House of the Spirits on her own reputedly clairvoyant grandmother. And she has drawn as well upon the political violence that visited her life: Of Love and Shadows (1987) centers on a political crime in Chile, and other Allende books allude to the ideological divisions that affected the author so critically.

But all of her other work was "rehearsal," says Allende, for what she considers her most difficult and personal book. Paula is written for Allende's daughter, who died in 1992 after several months in a coma. Like Allende's fiction, it tells Paula's story through that of Allende's own and of her relatives. Allende again departed from fiction in Aphrodite, a book that pays homage to the romantic powers of food (complete with recipes for two such as "Reconciliation Soup"). The book's lighthearted subject matter had to have been a necessity for Allende, who could not write for nearly three years after the draining experience of writing Paula.

Whichever side of reality she is on, Allende's voice is unfailingly romantic and life-affirming, creating mystery even as she uncloaks it. Like a character in Of Love and Shadows, Allende tells "stories of her own invention whose aim [is] to ease suffering and make time pass more quickly," and she succeeds.

Good To Know

Allende has said that the character of Gregory Reeves in The Infinite Plan is based on her husband, Willie Gordon.

Allende begins all of her books on January 8, which she considers lucky because it was the day she began writing a letter to her dying grandfather that later became The House of the Spirits.

She began her career as a journalist, editing the magazine Paula and later contributing to the Venezuelan paper El Nacional.

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Read an Excerpt

Maya's Notebook


By Isabel Allende

HarperCollins Publishers

Copyright © 2013 Isabel Allende
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-06-210562-2


Aweek ago my grandmother gave me a dry-eyed hug at the
San Francisco airport and told me again that if I valued my
life at all, I should not get in touch with anyone I knew until we
could be sure my enemies were no longer looking for me. My Nini
is paranoid, as the residents of the People's Independent Repub-
lic of Berkeley tend to be, persecuted as they are by the govern-
ment and extraterrestrials, but in my case she wasn't exaggerating:
no amount of precaution could ever be enough. She handed me a
hundred-page notebook so I could keep a diary, as I did from the
age of eight until I was fifteen, when my life went off the rails.
“You're going to have time to get bored, Maya. Take advantage of
it to write down the monumental stupidities you've committed, see
if you can come to grips with them,” she said. Several of my dia-
ries are still in existence, sealed with industrial-strength adhesive
tape. My grandfather kept them under lock and key in his desk for
years, and now my Nini has them in a shoebox under her bed. This
will be notebook number nine. My Nini believes they'll be of use
to me when I get psychoanalyzed, because they contain the keys
to untie the knots of my personality; but if she'd read them, she'd
know they contain a huge pile of tales tall enough to outfox Freud
himself. My grandmother distrusts on principle professionals who
charge by the hour, since quick results are not profitable for them.
However, she makes an exception for psychiatrists, because one of
them saved her from depression and from the traps of magic when
she took it into her head to communicate with the dead.

4 Isabel Allende
I put the notebook in my backpack, so I wouldn't upset her, with
no intention of using it, but it's true that time stretches out here and
writing is one way of filling up the hours. This first week of exile
has been a long one for me. I'm on a tiny island so small it's almost
invisible on the map, in the middle of the Dark Ages. It's com-
plicated to write about my life, because I don't know how much
I actually remember and how much is a product of my imagina-
tion; the bare truth can be tedious and so, without even noticing,
I change or exaggerate it, but I intend to correct this defect and lie
as little as possible in the future. And that's why now, when even
the Yanomamis of the Amazonas use computers, I am writing by
hand. It takes me ages and my writing must be in Cyrillic script,
because I can't even decipher it myself, but I imagine it'll gradu-
ally straighten out page by page. Writing is like riding a bicycle:
you don't forget how, even if you go for years without doing it.
I'm trying to go in chronological order, since some sort of order
is required and I thought that would make it easy, but I lose my
thread, I go off on tangents or I remember something important
several pages later and there's no way to fit it in. My memory goes
in circles, spirals, and somersaults.
My name is Maya Vidal. I'm nineteen years old, female, single—
due to a lack of opportunities rather than by choice, I'm currently
without a boyfriend. Born in Berkeley, California, I'm a U.S. citi-
zen, and temporarily taking refuge on an island at the bottom of
the world. They named me Maya because my Nini has a soft spot
for India and my parents hadn't come up with any other name,
even though they'd had nine months to think about it. In Hindi,
maya means “charm, illusion, dream”: nothing at all to do with my
personality. Attila would suit me better, because wherever I step
no pasture will ever grow again. My story begins in Chile with

Maya's Notebook 5
my grandmother, my Nini, a long time before I was born, because
if she hadn't emigrated, she'd never have fallen in love with my
Popo or moved to California, my father would never have met my
mother and I wouldn't be me, but rather a very different Chilean
girl. What do I look like? I'm five-ten, 128 pounds when I play soc-
cer and several more if I don't watch out. I've got muscular legs,
clumsy hands, blue or gray eyes, depending on the time of day,
and blond hair, I think, but I'm not sure since I haven't seen my
natural hair color for quite a few years now. I didn't inherit my
grandmother's exotic appearance, with her olive skin and those
dark circles under her eyes that make her look a little depraved, or
my father's, handsome as a bullfighter and just as vain. I don't look
like my grandfather either—my magnificent Popo—because un-
fortunately he's not related to me biologically, since he's my Nini's
second husband.
I look like my mother, at least as far as size and coloring go. She
wasn't a princess of Lapland, as I used to think before I reached
the age of reason, but a Danish air hostess my father, who's a pilot,
fell in love with in midair. He was too young to get married, but
he got it into his head that this was the woman of his dreams and
stubbornly pursued her until she eventually got tired of turning
him down. Or maybe it was because she was pregnant. The fact
is, they got married and regretted it within a week, but they stayed
together until I was born. Days after my birth, while her husband
was flying somewhere, my mother packed her bags, wrapped me
up in a little blanket, and took a taxi to her in-laws' house. My
Nini was in San Francisco protesting against the Gulf War, but my
Popo was home and took the bundle
(Continues...)

Excerpted from Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende. Copyright © 2013 Isabel Allende. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 91 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(42)

4 Star

(31)

3 Star

(8)

2 Star

(4)

1 Star

(6)

Your Rating:

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 91 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2013

    L

    Why cant some ppl grasp the concept of the word review? They write a book report, telling everything that happens in the book, often the ending, then brag about how THEY got their book for free for their (honest) review. A review is a few lines stating if you liked it or not and why. Not telling the contents of the entire book. Bn, are you ever going to do anything to these plot spoilers? They are costing yiu sales. Nobody wants to buy a book after these ppl reveal the entire storyline. They should be banned and fined.

    27 out of 51 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted July 20, 2013

    Intriguing story

    I bought this book last night and have read it nonstop. The story is told by Maya writing in her journal but to me it read more like a conversation with a friend telling you the story of herself and her family. I had read a review that did like the book but found Maya's drug and alcohol spiral a little far fetched so I was expecting doubt there as to the authenticity of a list girls story. My doubts on that account were unfounded as I found the quick downward spiral very believeable as I have been witness to such despair and redemption. Story is very well told and opened my mind to another view of the world and events I had not explored. Definitely a story of love, redemption and the way events shape a person's life, opens up thinking much deeper though than just Maya's story. The best stories don't just entertain they also bring questions and make us seek information to events we may have not previously understood or even known much about. I hope if you read this book you will also see deeper than just what happens to Maya in her story.

    13 out of 15 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted April 29, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    4.5 Stars Maya's Notebook is a coming of age contemporary novel

    4.5 Stars

    Maya's Notebook is a coming of age contemporary novel that follows Maya Vidal as she escapes into hiding from her home in America to a small island off of Chile to escape her past of crime, prostitution and drugs - as well as running from Interpol, the FBI, police and even a gang of assassins. Throughout the book, we learn of Maya's life: her family history, her mistakes, her past, her thoughts and dreams, and even a family secret so deep that it threatens to shatter Maya's life.

    This is another breathtaking novel from a bestselling author whose talent is evident from the first paragraph. This story deviates from her other books, as it's set in the current time instead of the past. Maya's character is a solid and very layered main character. We learn a lot about her throughout the story. I came to see her in many ways and was able to watch her character grow and come into her own. I loved reading about Maya's life and her family, all of which made her more realistic in my eyes, which is a great quality for a lead character. The book is written from Maya's point of view, in the form of journal entries. Although I normally don't like this format, I think the epistolary form worked well for the plot and the characters in the story. The pace of the book was well done and the journal entries made for easy reading. The plot flowed effortlessly and easily intertwined Maya's past with her present circumstances and her thoughts. The writing style was flawless and done with such vivid descriptions and lyrical prose that I was immediately captivated and brought into Maya's world within the first few sentences of the book. It was a wonderful mixture of beauty, sadness, and hope that I haven't seen in many books before. This is one novel that will reach your heart and stay with you long after you finish reading it. I highly recommend it to lovers of literary fiction and young adult coming of age novels.

    Disclosure: I received a copy of the book in exchange for an honest review.

    11 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted June 10, 2013

    Without going much into the story, I will say that I thourally e

    Without going much into the story, I will say that I thourally enjoyed reading this book. I loved how Allende tells the story of Maya's journey through a series of flashbacks without loosing the essence of the novel. I was highly impressed with this novel and treasured reading the book

    9 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 17, 2013

    Recommend

    I am half way through and can't seem to turn out the light at bedtime. I am really enjoying this nbook.

    8 out of 10 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013

    couldn't put it down

    Very well written; very interesting. I literally couldn't stop reading until finished.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2013

    Review for Maya's Notebook

    I usually read Mysteries. However, I saw the review for this book in the O Magazine and decided to read it. Glad I did. Enjoyed it very much. If you haven't read this book, you should add it to your reading list.

    5 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 4, 2013

    I am a fan of Ms. Allende and this book did not disappoint.  The

    I am a fan of Ms. Allende and this book did not disappoint.  The plot is very unique and the chracter of Maya comes to life with Ms. Allende's beautiful writing style.  The book will not disappoint you.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013

    This book will not disapoint you

    Story, characters and settings provide a great book that has just enough twists to make this an enjoyable read!

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2013

    Enjoyable

    I liked this book even though the plot twists were obvious to me long in advance. Interesting fictional story.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 5, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Highly recommended. Allende neve disappoints.

    Maya is raised by her grandparents Ninni and her beloved PooPoo. He pilot father is rarely around and her mother is not involved at all. When her grandfather, PooPoo, dies, Maya loses her anchor and drifts into drugs and eventually a terrible life in the underworld in Las Vegas,heavily into drugs and alcohol and bound to a dealer, selling in the wegas Clubs. Nearly killed over infighting between the criminal factions, she is rescued by the "Widows for Jesus", detoxed and sent to the beautiful Chiloe, an Archapelago off the coast of Chile to live with Nini's long time friend, Manuel. She heals in the beauty of the island and the love of the inhabitants. There are many twists and surprises in this engaging story of love and healing.

    2 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted June 11, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    Maya¿s Note­book by Isabel Allende is a fic­tional novel and a c

    Maya’s Note­book by Isabel Allende is a fic­tional novel and a com­ing of age story. Ms. Allende is an award win­ning, inter­na­tion­ally famous, Chilean writer.

    Maya Vida was aban­doned by her par­ents and grew up with her grand­par­ents, an astronomer and a Chilean immi­grant, in Berke­ley, CA. When her grand­fa­ther dies Maya descends into drugs, alco­hol and a life of petty crime which even­tu­ally leads her to Las Vegas with the FBI, Inter­pol, the local police and a few gang­sters after her.

    Maya’s grand­mother helps her escape to Chiloé, a remote island off the coast of Chile. In Chiloe she meets peo­ple from her grandmother’s past and begins to record her story in her notebook.

    There were sev­eral rea­sons I chose to read Maya’s Note­book by Isabel Allende, one was, of course, the author but the other was the set­ting. I have men­tioned it sev­eral times that I enjoy read­ing books which are set at places I've been to. Luck­ily for me I've been at many places and the island of Chiloé, off the coast of Chile is one of them.

    When I went to Chiloé it was just for a day trip, I remem­ber how beau­ti­ful, serene and relax­ing it was. The peo­ple were great, the scenery was fan­tas­tic, won­der­ful food and deli­cious home­made apple cider. Of course when I read that the book takes place on the island I imme­di­ately requested a copy.

    The book starts out slowly but grows on you, at first I thought I made a mis­take. The book is in the form of a diary, a com­ing of age story of delin­quent girl from a dys­func­tional fam­ily who com­plains and jus­ti­fies her choices (or lack thereof). The nar­ra­tive goes from past to present in a way which was, at first, dif­fi­cult to fol­low. How­ever, about half way through the book the story comes out and the loose ends start to make sense all the way to a pow­er­ful ending.

    While the book has its ups and downs, Allende is a world class author and it shows through­out. The novel is dri­ven solely on the force of the Maya Vidal’s, protagonist’s char­ac­ter and Allende pulls it off with­out a hitch. Through the nar­ra­tive the reader also learns about a sim­pler and mean­ing­ful lifestyle on an island which is con­sid­ered a trea­sure by many people.

    I thought that the part of the book which takes place in Las Vegas is a bit over the top. I don’t think one needs to go to such bizarre expe­ri­ences to suf­fer the trau­matic break­down Maya has suf­fered, it takes much less than what the author describes which seems, to me at least like a made-for-TV spe­cial. I don’t want to give away much of the book, since Maya is wanted by the FBI and the crim­i­nal ele­ment for some­thing she knows, it would have been more believ­able to me if she wasn’t involved in petty crimes.

    Even though the book was a slow start, I did enjoy the mid­dle and end­ing. The novel pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing, and some­times sus­pense­ful, read with much to think about afterwards.

    2 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted May 31, 2013

    more from this reviewer

    A young woman finds herself hidden away on a remote island in Ch

    A young woman finds herself hidden away on a remote island in Chile, on the run from...I'm not sure she even knew just who she was running from. After months as a runaway, living on the streets of Vegas, immersed in a life of drugs and prostitution, she is now sober and hiding out on this island, surrounded with odd individuals and misfits who become her family, as she reminisces and slowly leads us through the story of her past, revealing herself to us.

    Maya is a feisty girl and a bit of a rebel, but good at heart. She's just damaged by her past. She loved her grandfather more than anyone, and when she lost him, she lost her bearings and began a downward spiral.

    We find Maya living on an island in Chiloe, and her story flips back and forth between past and present, helping to break up the suspense, which builds and builds in her backstory.

    The island is a superstitious area, and while a bit "backward" at times, Chiloe grows on Maya.

    This was my first introduction to the author Isabel Allende, although she has been on my Wish List for quite awhile now, and I found she has a very easy-to-read writing style, but can be appropriately lyrical at moments.

    My final word: This suspenseful story is told in a muted tone. Maya is at times an abrasive and spunky protagonist, coming to terms with her adulthood and the need to let go of the past in order to move forward in life. At times gritty and hard-hitting, other times sentimental and moving, the story is always intriguing and pulls you along to the very end. My only real complaint is that a couple of areas just sort of petered out. There were characters introduced who just disappeared, and I had a hard time understanding the part they played in the story, or I actually really grew to like them and wanted to know what happened to them, only to find they quietly disappeared into the night. And the ending fell just a bit flat for me. But it's okay. I was ultimately satisfied with the story.

    2 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2013

    I loved this, hard to put down but then I am a huge fan of Isabe

    I loved this, hard to put down but then I am a huge fan of Isabel Allende.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 5, 2013

    Slow Sensual Read

    Excellent story worth following to the end. Story unfolds slowly and comes to a great ebd.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2013

    A very readable story that takes us to an island off Chile's coa

    A very readable story that takes us to an island off Chile's coast.  Allende's usual fascinating plot, just a hint of her fabulous magical realism.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 17, 2013

    EXCELLENT!!!!!

    Such a wonderful story. I haven't enjoyed a book so much in a very long time. I cried, I laughed, I was almost late to work because I COULD NOT put it down.
    Looking forward to checking out her other books

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 12, 2013

    OK

    Not the best, not the worst. Some of the transitions from past to present aren't clear.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 10, 2013

    Great book

    Isabel Allende is a great writer

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 23, 2013

    Thumbs up!

    I really love Isabel Allende's writing. She creates such complex characters with honesty and flaws. The end was a little predictable but I definitely recommend this book!

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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