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Maya's Notebook: A Novel Hardcover – Deckle Edge, April 23, 2013

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Internationally revered for her truth-seeking historical fiction, Allende takes on the present with equal bewitchment and intensity. As Maya’s grandmother, Nidia, sends her into protective custody on Chiloé, an island off Chile’s southern coast, she hands her a notebook in which this imperiled and irascible 19-year-old records her wrenching story. Fair and tall, Maya does not resemble her Chilean side, neither her absentee pilot father nor tough-love Berkeley activist Nidia, but, rather, her Danish flight-attendant mother, who left her newborn with her in-laws. To further complicate matters, Maya’s guiding light was her grandfather, Nidia’s second husband, a wise and loving African American astronomer. It is his death that precipitates the “voyage to the underworld” of addiction, crime, and homelessness that nearly kills her. Maya alternates between recounting her past and reporting on her gradual acclimation to Chiloé, a microcosm of Chile’s cultural and spiritual splendor and traumatic and tragic history. Every character is enthralling, including Manuel, the all-but-monastic anthropologist and political exile who takes Maya in; Freddy, the young junkie Maya meets in Las Vegas; and the “good witches,” who restore her sense of worth. 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. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This explosive novel, supported by a national tour and a major media campaign, will bring in readers new to Allende as well as the fans who make her a best-selling literary star. --Donna Seaman


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.” (John Barron, Chicago Tribune)

“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.” (Maribel Molyneaux, Philadelphia Inquirer)

“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.” (Miami Herald)

“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.” (San Jose Mercury News)

“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.” (Seattle Times)

“Allende can spin a yarn with the grace of a poet.” (Entertainment Weekly)

“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.” (Jane Ciabattari, O magazine)

“Isabel Allende enchants in Maya’s Notebook.” (Vanity Fair)

“Allende paints a vivid picture contrasting Maya’s drug-clouded past and her recovery in Chiloé. Yet another accomplished work by a master storyteller that will enthrall and captivate. This is a must-read.” (Library Journal (starred review))

“Allende is a master at plucking heartstrings, and Maya’s family drama is hard to resist.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“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.” (Booklist (starred review))

“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.” (Reed Johnson, Los Angeles Times)

“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.” (Malena Watrous, San Francisco Chronicle)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Tra edition (April 23, 2013)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0062105620
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062105622
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (557 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #267,824 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of eight novels, including, most recently, Zorro, Portrait in Sepia, and Daughter of Fortune. She has also written a collection of stories; three memoirs, including My Invented Country and Paula; and a trilogy of children's novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.

My thoughts on Kindle en Español:

"El impacto de los libros electrónicos es formidable y está remeciendo a la industria del libro tanto como a los lectores. Aunque todavía la idea es relativamente nueva en español, ya se ha extendido en otras lenguas tan dramáticamente, que muchos autores nuevos publican en versión digital, saltándose a las editoriales. Confieso que soy adicta a mis Kindle y mi IPad, donde leo con letra grande y clara, en una pantalla liviana. Antes viajaba con una maleta de libros, ahora llevo mi biblioteca en la cartera y puedo adquirir nuevos libros en cualquier parte del mundo en pocos segundos. Dicen que los jóvenes le tienen miedo al papel y no tienen el hábito de leer - lo cual no es totalmente cierto - pero ahora pueden leer en sus pantallas. También dicen que la ficción desaparecerá, pero eso jamás ocurrirá, porque la humanidad necesita historias tanto como necesita oxígeno. Tal vez en el futuro el libro, ese compañero maravilloso, será un objeto de coleccionistas y de bibliotecas y nosotros, simples mortales, leeremos en pantallas. Pero seguiremos leyendo, de eso no tengo dudas." Isabel Allende

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

91 of 99 people found the following review helpful By John Kwok HALL OF FAME on March 5, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
With Maya Vidal, the protagonist of Isabel Allende's new novel, "Maya's Notebook", Allende takes us on a most searing personal odyssey of self discovery as seen through the eyes of her likable, but emotionally scarred, protagonist, who literally falls into a psychological abyss of her own making; an abyss fraught with ample physical as well as psychological terror. Readers will find themselves rooting for Maya, hoping that she will prevail despite ample obstacles in her path. A personal odyssey in which Maya learns some cold, hard, difficult, truths about herself and uncovers decades-held secrets about her family and its tragic history, especially in the bloody aftermath of the military coup that killed Chile's elected president, Salvador Allende and created a harsh military dictatorship persisting for years under the leadership of the coup's leader, General Augusto Pinochet. Told compellingly through Maya's own eyes, "Maya's Notebook" displays once more Allende's tremendous gifts for storytelling and creating characters as memorable as Maya Vidal, her grandmother Nidia - affectionately known as Nini - and Manuel Arias, the aging anthropologist who offers her sanctuary on a remote island off the coast of Chile with a past nearly as enigmatic as her grandmother's. When her kindly, almost saintly, grandfather, Popo, a distinguished Berkeley astronomer, dies, Maya embarks on a self destructive journey of drinking, drug addiction and thievery, escaping to Las Vegas where she becomes the target of drug dealing assassins, corrupt local police, and even the FBI. Barely escaping numerous scrapes with death, Maya finds her one chance of survival in her beloved Nini, who sends her to the remote Chilean island as a guest of Manuel Arias.Read more ›
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By J. Weaver VINE VOICE on April 22, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Isabel Allende is one of the greatest living writers, and Maya's Notebook does not disappoint. While I suppose it's accurate to classify it under "Mystery, Thriller & Suspense," it is also far more than that description would indicate. It is a in-depth, first-person look at the mind of a young woman who has lived through and is recovering from a series of horrible situations (a few of which might come across as absurd in the hands of a lesser writer). Without going into too much detail (as there are twists and surprises up until the final pages, and I don't wish to spoil any of them), Maya succumbs to a life of drugs and crime following the death of her beloved step-grandfather, Popo, spiraling downward until she winds up, mostly by accident, with inside knowledge about an international counterfeiting ring. The novel is told through her journals, kept after she escapes from this world into hiding in a remote Chilean island, with details of her past revealed a bit at a time, interwoven with her life in the present.

Allende captures Maya's personality extremely well (though, if I had one complaint, it would be that few, if any, 19-year-old American girls could possibly write as poetically as Isabel Allende does), as well as the contrasting worlds of the American underworld and the seemingly more simple life of the rural Chiloe islands (though, as one might expect, the specter of the 1973 coup and Pinochet's dictatorship weighs heavily on some of the major characters). And, though the subject matter would seem to not allow for it, Allende's trademark magical realism does show up, as the reader is expected to believe, even if temporarily, in the possibility of ghosts.

I would consider Maya's Notebook to be a must-read. It's sometimes disturbing, sometimes hopeful, and always haunting in more ways than one.
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31 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Evelyn Getchell TOP 500 REVIEWER on April 10, 2013
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Without a doubt Isabelle Allende is a consummate storyteller and she proves it once again with her latest work, a coming-of-age novel: MAYA'S NOTEBOOK.

With a narrative voice of a spirited nineteen year old girl from Berkeley, California by the name of Maya Vidal, this is a novel that will certainly appeal most to young women readers.

The story has cinematic scope ranging from heartfelt, sensitive and poignant to gritty, raw and violent. It is a vivid, visceral and instructive journey to both places on the map and regions of the heart. Allende does not shy away from the dark, seedy world of homelessness and sexual slavery, drug abuse and alcoholism, porn and prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases and violent crimes, but navigates those grim realities through the private thoughts and stories her struggling teenage heroine Maya commits to a hundred-page notebook while she is sequestered on the remote Chilean island of Chiloe.

MAYA'S NOTEBOOK is a tight-wire act of the imagination as Maya grapples with the pull of the world and the hold of those who love her. It is thrilling, touching and frightening balancing act over the turbulent waters of young adulthood. Suffused with family secrets, exploitation, discrimination, danger and discovery, this is a contemporary story that makes for compelling albeit unbelievable reading.

As engaging as Maya's story is, I still have a few quibbles with it. The main thing is that I missed the beautiful prose I have come to expect from Isabelle Allende. This simply is not the lyric work I love so much about Allende's oeuvre.
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