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Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende
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Maya's Notebook (2011)

by Isabel Allende

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English (36)  Spanish (9)  Dutch (3)  All languages (48)
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
Not the best Allende novel but one I would recommend. ( )
  KathyGilbert | Jan 29, 2016 |
Nineteen-year-old Maya Vidal of Berkeley, California, is a natural blonde (“with hair dyed four primary colors”), single (“due to a lack of opportunities rather than by choice”), loves to play soccer, and is currently in Chile, “the country of my grandmother Nidia Vidal, where the ocean takes bites off the land and the continent of South America strings out into islands”. More specifically Chiloe, an archipelago with about two hundred thousand inhabitants. She is also on the run from the FBI, Interpol, and a Las Vegas criminal gang, as she explains to Manuel Arias, an old friend of her grandmother’s who has agreed to give her refuge.

So other than the Chilean setting, it’s not exactly your typical Isabel Allende fare there. It’s a very different Allende, at least from the impression I have from the few books I’ve read of her thus far (although I should note that I’ve not read any of her books published in the last decade) – more contemporary than her usual historical fiction, with no dabbling in the magic realism that she is known for.

Maya is such an interesting, flawed and honest character. And the narration, in the form of her journal, draws the reader right in to her life, her troubles, her emotions.

Maya was more or less raised by her grandparents, her mother having abandoned her not long after she was born, her father, a pilot, is seldom at home. And so her world falls apart after her beloved grandfather Popo dies. Her Nini ages overnight and locks herself in her grief, not really noticing when Maya drinks “whatever she could get her hands on, from gin to cough syrup, smoked marijuana, was dealing ecstasy, acid, and tranquilizers, stole credit cards, and had set up a scam inspired by a television program in which FBI agents pretended to be underage girls to trap depraved men on the Internet”.

But after an accident involving a car and a drug- and alcohol-addled Maya on a bike, Maya gets sent to an academy for unmanageable teenagers in Oregon. Little does everyone know that things are just going to get worse.

These flashbacks are interspersed with Maya’s current sober exile in the sleepy Chilean town, with no cellphone, no email access – by choice that is, she’s probably the only disconnected resident in town. She assists Arias, an anthropologist and sociologist, with research for his book on magic, and teaches English and basic computer skills at the school. The town and its inhabitants grow on her. And she begins to discover herself and her family’s history in Chile.

Maya is such an unforgettable character. Sure, there were plenty of times that I wanted to grab her by the shoulders and shake her to her senses – she is after all, only 19 but has been through so much. But she has a big heart, and quite a story to tell. And Allende has done such an excellent job capturing Maya’s voice – at times tough and full of angst, at others so vulnerable, so delicate.

Maya’s Notebook was one of my favourite reads of April – spanning Berkeley, Las Vegas, Oregon, Chile, well-stocked with unconventional characters, full of life, full of heart.

Originally posted at http://olduvaireads.wordpress.com/2013/05/13/tlc-book-tours-mayas-notebook/ ( )
  olduvai | Jan 19, 2016 |
When Maya's grandfather, the man who along with her grandmother raised her, dies, Her life goes completely off track. She resorts to a life of drugs, alcohol, and crime in a misguided attempt to bury the pain eventually leading to a life on the streets of Las Vegas and putting her on the run from drug dealers and the FBI. When she was at the absolute bottom her grandmother finally finds her and sends her to a remote location in Chile to both hide and heal.

I really struggled with this book. I found Maya to be an unbelievable character. The book is written in the form of journal entries in which the events are related in a non-linear format, going back and forth between her recounting the events in the past and her current life. That would have been fine if it weren't for the completely unemotional tone in which they are written with zero sense of urgency, even as the situation is headed toward the inevitable climax. Maya herself was a wholly unsympathetic character who had a vocabulary unbelievable in a well educated adult, let alone a young girl who barely graduated high school. This was Allende's first attempt at a young adult novel, and I think it was a complete miss. If this is at all indicative of her further attempts at the genre, she may just want to stick to what she does best, magical realism written for adults. ( )
  Mootastic1 | Jan 15, 2016 |
Audiobook performed by Maria Cabezas

On a remote island off the southern coast of Chile 19-year-old Maya Vidal uses the notebook given to her by her grandmother – Nini – to record her impressions of this simple life, reflect on her past mistakes and try to come to grips with the turns her life has taken. Through her writings we learn that as an infant she was left with her paternal grandmother and step-grandfather in Berkeley, and raised by them with considerable freedom and lots of love. The death of Popo deeply affects both Nini and Maya, and the 13-year-old spins out of control, drinking, taking drugs, and engaging in petty crimes. Eventually she gets embroiled in the seedy underworld of Las Vegas.

This is a contemporary coming-of-age novel and a significant departure for Allende who has mostly written historical fiction. Maya is frustratingly immature and so many of her decisions are so obviously wrong that the reader cannot help but anticipate the horrible outcome. Yet, we always know that she is “clean, sober and safe” because she is narrating her troubled past from a place of safety and security. This structure made me curious as to how she would get out of the various situations (and there are many including kidnapping, rape, drug overdose, etc) but also lessened the suspense. Some of the writing seemed a little mature for Maya, but on the whole I felt Allende gave her a believable voice.

The novel is peopled with a wide array of characters – colorful, bland, loyal, conniving, young, old, wise, or foolish. There are times when Maya is exploring historical elements that disrupt the flow of the main plot – her grandmother’s flight from Chile as a young widow with her young son, how her grandparents met, Manuel’s incarceration and torture, and background stories of other characters important to her story. The novel includes a few elements of magical realism – ghosts appear regularly, Maya is introduced to a coven of witches – but these are relatively minor.

Maria Cabezas does a fine job narrating this first-person tale. She has good pacing and correctly pronounces the Spanish. Her “young” voice for Maya seemed spot on. Allende is a good story-teller and Cabezas performed the work well. I was interested and engaged from beginning to end.
( )
  BookConcierge | Jan 13, 2016 |
This novel moves back and forth in time, told from the present point of Maya, who finds herself at the end of the world on a tiny island on the coast of Chile. as a 19 year old she has retreated there to avoid being tracked down by both the mafia and the FBI. Writing in her notebook, she describes her journey to get there, and then the evolution once there. She had fallen apart after the death of her beloved grandfather, got involved with the wrong crowd, became addicted to many substances, went through rehab, fell off the wagon, resorted to drug dealing and prostitution, and got in way over her head. After hitting bottom and being rescued, she was sent by her grandmother to live with an old family friend in Chile, where the grandmother had been embroiled in the revolution there. The relationships that Maya develops along the way, both positive and negative, are instrumental to her growth and fascinating to the reader. The setting in remote Chile, with some background history of that country in the 1970's, make for an intriguingbackdrop in which Maya ultimately finds herself. ( )
  sleahey | Dec 30, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 36 (next | show all)
The prioritising of story over voice suggests that it's not the aim of Maya's Notebook to plunge the reader into the grim existence of a real-life Maya; this is a tale of revelations and resolutions, and the plot is more answerable to its own turns than to the brutal possibilities of reality. Despite the observations about the number of young people lost to street violence, crime and slavery, or because of them, the driving force of this novel is ultimately resilience – the power of love and acceptance to face down terrible things.
added by ozzer | editThe Guardian, Emily Perkins (May 30, 2013)
 

» Add other authors

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Isabel Allendeprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Degenaar, RikkieTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Epigraph
Tell me, what else should I have done?
Doesn't everything die at last, and too soon?
Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?
-Mary Oliver, "The Summer Day"
Dedication
A los adolescentes de mi tribu: Alejandro, Andrea, Nicole, Sabrina, Aristotelis y Achilleas
For the teenagers of my tribe:
Alejandro, Andrea, Nicole, Sabrina, Aristotelis, and Achilleas
First words
A week 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.
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After the death of her beloved grandfather, nineteen-year-old Maya Vidal, turning to drugs, alcohol, and petty crimes, becomes trapped in a war between assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol, until her grandmother helps her escape to a remote island off the coast of Chile where she tries to make sense of her life.… (more)

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