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.
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.
Minneapolis Star Tribune
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.
Allende can spin a yarn with the grace of a poet.
Allende 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.... 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.
International best-selling novelist Allende 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.... 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. —Donna Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO
(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.
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.... 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.
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