Synopses & Reviews
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.
"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."
"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."
"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."
"Allende paints a vivid picture contrasting Maya's drug-clouded past and her recovery in Chilé. Yet another accomplished work by a master storyteller that will enthrall and captivate. This is a must-read."
Library Journal (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
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.
About the Author
Isabel Allende is the bestselling author of eleven works of fiction, four memoirs, and three young- adult novels, which have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages with over 57 million copies sold. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. She received the Hans Christian Andersen Literature Award in 2012. Born in Peru and raised in Chile, she lives in California.