Synopses & Reviews
An Indie Next pick
“Terrifying . . . Though the geography of the story is that of Cormac McCarthy, the plot shares more territory with Edgar Allan Poe . . . An end that is improbable, dripping with irony, and entirely satisfying.” —Outside
“Vaillant writes with power and emotion, affection and respect . . . An eloquent literary dissection of the divide between the United States and Mexico.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
From the best-selling author of The Tiger and The Golden Spruce, this debut novel is a gripping survival story of a young man trapped, perhaps fatally, during a border crossing. Hector is trapped. The water truck, sealed to hide its human cargo, has broken down. The coyotes have taken all the passengers’ money for a mechanic and have not returned. Those left behind have no choice but to wait.
Hector finds a name in his friend Cesar’s phone. AnniMac. A name with an American number. He must reach her, both for rescue and to pass along the message Cesar has come so far to deliver. But are his messages going through?
Over four days, as water and food run low, Hector tells how he came to this desperate place. His story takes us from Oaxaca — its rich culture, its rapid change — to the dangers of the border. It exposes the tangled ties between Mexico and El Norte — land of promise and opportunity, homewrecker and unreliable friend. And it reminds us of the power of storytelling and the power of hope, as Hector fights to ensure his message makes it out of the truck and into the world.
Both an outstanding suspense novel and an arresting window into the relationship between two great cultures, The Jaguar’s Children shows how deeply interconnected all of us, always, are.
What sets Mayas Notebook apart from the usual teen-in-trouble fare is the soaring redemption Maya finds in Chile. The villages 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
“Mayas Notebook sings a contemporary tune…the narrative expands from harsh twenty-first century language to lyrical descriptions of Mayas unfolding exterior and interior worlds. Its a coming-of-age tale achieved by immersion in ageless wisdom…the beauty of Allendes writing remains undeniable.” San Jose Mercury News
“Mayas 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 dont, at least for a while.” Minneapolis Star Tribune
“Longtime fans of Isabel Allendes work will find much of the authors beguiling mix of clear-eyed toughness and lightness of spirit in her new protagonist, and will welcome another chapter in Allendes continuing exploration of Latin America. Those introduced to Allende by Mayas 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 Chiles dark history of political terror-and present…A tale of a girls 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 Mayas Notebook.” Vanity Fair
“Allende paints a vivid picture contrasting Mayas 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 Mayas 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…Mayas Notebook exerts a raw and genuine power…Its strength is Mayas distinctive voice: vulnerable but spiked with irony, wounded yet defiant, like a teenage emo-punks 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
"I have long admired the visceral storytelling and moral complexity of John Vaillants brilliant non-fiction about humankinds tragically ambivalent relationship with the natural world. Now he brings his abundant literary gifts to a debut novel set in a very real borderland in which human beings are themselves treated like animals. The Jaguars Children is a beautifully rendered lament for an imperiled culture and the brave lives that would preserve it. You should read it."
—John Burnham Schwartz, author of Reservation Road and The Commoner
"The Jaguar's Children is devastating. It's at once a literary mystery, an engrossing tour de force, and a brilliant commentary on humanity's role in the physical world. The voice that echoes out from that abandoned place Vaillant so masterfully creates won't leave me."
—Joseph Boyden, author of Three Day Road and The Orenda
"John Vaillant is in the business of writing masterpieces. But this first novel will make his many followers fall over in shock. Vaillant sees the tragedy of human predation on the border for what it is—a real-world horror worthy of Stephen King. This book rushes at you relentless as a nightmare and doesn't let up until it kicks out the walls. Settle in. You're going to need a stiff drink. Make it ice water."
—Luis Alberto Urrea, author of The Devil's Highway, Into the Beautiful North and The Hummingbirds Daughter
"John Vaillant's revelatory nonfiction is catalyzed by eloquent prose and exuberant curiosity. In his first novel, The Jaguar's Children, Vaillant proves that his heart and imagination are as expansive and fierce as his radiant intellect. With a desperate young immigrant as our companion, we enter the dangerous borderlands between countries and generations; myth and magic; human community and the vast, infinitely mysterious, wild environment. Perilously close to death, we navigate the hallucinatory map of the mind where those who endure still hope to discover one thin thread of light leading from terror to survival. Never have I encountered a writer with more energy or compassion."
—Melanie Rae Thon, author of Sweet Hearts, The Voice of the River, and Girls in the Grass
Mayas 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 grandmothers 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.
The New York Times
bestselling author returns with a novel of suspense narrated by a teenage girl who falls into a life of drugs and crime, and must escape before it's too late.
Neglected by her parents, nineteen-year-old Maya Vidal grew 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 she emigrated 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. She 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.
An unforgettable, page-turning survival story recounted by Hector, a man trapped—perhaps fatally—inside a tanker truck during an illegal border crossing, telling of his hopes for rescue, the joys and trials of his life, and what has brought us all to this moment.
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.
Nacida en Perú y criada en Chile, Isabel Allende es la autora de nueve novelas incluyendo más recientemente Zorro, Retrato en Sepia, Hija de la Fortuna e Inés del Alma Mía. También ha escrito cuentos cortos, tres libros autobiográficos incluyendo Mi País Inventado y Paula, y una trilogía de libros para jóvenes. Sus libros han sido traducidos a más de 27 idiomas y son bestsellers a través del mundo entero. En 2004, fue nombrada a la Academia de Artes y Letras de los Estados Unidos. Vive en California.