Reviewed by Eefje Koppers
Isabel Allende makes me want to be a better writer. The Chilean author is in my opinion one of the finest storytellers of the moment. It doesn’t matter if she writes a book for young adults, a memoir or a novel; her stories are always original and always filled with beautiful prose, descriptive imagery and interesting and unexpected twists and turns. Her latest work, Maya’s Notebook, is no exception. It is the story of a young woman whose life goes completely off the rails after the death of her popo (her grandfather, but just Allende’s use of the word popo throughout the book makes the man somehow closer to the reader).
Maya’s Notebook has two storylines. The one in the recent past tells how Maya becomes involved in Las Vegas’s seedy underworld of drugs, sex trade and violence. The present story line tells how she has fled to the Chilean island Chiloe away from the men in her past who are hunting her down. Why they are still searching for her stays a mystery for the better part of the book and that in itself is the strength of Allende’s writing. She interweaves both storylines with such skill that at each transition from one to the other, you can’t wait to read on, because you simply need to find out what happens next. Both storylines are so interesting but totally contrasting. There is the violence of Vegas and the serenity of Chiloe, but they both have this strong but damaged young woman at the centre of things. And you can’t help but read on. It is a story of redemption, hope, love and action like only Isabel Allende can write and I can wholeheartedly recommend it. It will make you fall in love with Chiloe, the wonderful Maya and most of all with Allende’s prose.
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