Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Maya's NotebookGenre: Realistic Fiction
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: 4/23/13
Format: ARC
Pages: 387
Source: Received from publisher for review
Rating: 3 stars

Isabel Allende’s latest novel, set in the present day (a new departure for the author), tells the story of a 19-year-old American girl who finds refuge on a remote island off the coast of Chile after falling into a life of drugs, crime, and prostitution. There, in the company of a torture survivor, a lame dog, and other unforgettable characters, Maya Vidal writes her story, which includes pursuit by a gang of assassins, the police, the FBI, and Interpol. In the process, she unveils a terrible family secret, comes to understand the meaning of love and loyalty, and initiates the greatest adventure of her life: the journey into her own soul.

Maya's Notebook is a book that is very rich in characters and setting and story. Though to get the meh stuff out of the way, it does have a very slow progression. I am sometimes one of those "Slam Bam Thank You Ma'am" readers where I need to be hooked pretty quickly and want the story to have a clear arc to the climax and have a happily ever after ending. This is not that. I really enjoyed it, but I honestly had to have a lot of focus to do so.

Maya's story is told through her writing in her journals, but the way she tells the story it doesn't seem like a juvenile journal entry. Maya's story also begins with her being sent to exile to a very Southern island in Chile to live with a friend of her Grandmother's. We don't find out why for an incredibly long time, but in the meantime we do find out the meaning of her life of being raised by her Grandparents Nini and Popo, and her adjustment to life with Manual on this remote island.

I said that the story is very rich in character and setting and story, and that is what helped me really enjoy this book despite its pace and length. Every person that is in this story has a purpose and provides Maya with a lot of life lessons. She spends the latter half of her teenage years as a drug addict on the streets through some incredibly bad decisions, and Allende holds nothing back in the depiction of the horrors of the things that happen to her. Mike O'Kelly, Freddy, Manual, Blanca, Nini, Popo, and Juanito are just a few of the people that I remember most who helped Maya even when she deserved it the least but helped her on her journey to finding herself and dealing with the stuff life threw at her in a mature and grown up way.

The setting and story that goes with Chile is a big part of the story as well, because it is depicted so beautifully. Maya's family is from there originally and fled during the political unrest of the 70's, so figuring out her past as much as her future is a major theme. She guides Manual to face his nightmares, even though their 54 year age difference makes them an unlikely pair, through researching the things that happened while he was held as a prisoner of war.

I do think that Allende is a fantastic writer. She blended all of these different places, time periods, and culture into a truly cohesive story that I am glad to have experienced.

A message from author Isabel Allende to readers

Purchase Maya's Notebook at:
About the author:
 Isabel Allende Llona is a Chilean-American novelist. Allende, who writes in the "magic realism" tradition, is considered one of the first successful women novelists in Latin America. She has written novels based in part on her own experiences, often focusing on the experiences of women, weaving myth and realism together. She has lectured and done extensive book tours and has taught literature at several US colleges. She currently resides in California with her husband. Allende adopted U.S. citizenship in 2003.

Connect with Isabel at her website.



  1. I have never heard of this book but like I you I like my contemporary reads addicting. When I start to read it and then I cannot let it go. Characters here sounds interesting though. I'm glad you enjoyed it overall :)

  2. This doesn't sound like something I would normally pick up, but your review has me very interested. Sounds like a good one. Great review.

  3. I've seen this around a few times before, but I've never really been too interested in it until now. I think I would probably have to focus quite a bit too, but it sounds like the extra effort is ultimately worth it. Lovely review, Andrea! :)

  4. It is hard for me to get in to a book that has a slow progression. I'm a "Slam Bam Thank You Ma'am" Reader myself! Great Review Courtney!

    Lindy@ A Bookish Escape

  5. I've seen this one around and always liked the cover, but I didn't know what it was about until now. I'm glad you liked it, despite the slow reading. It does sound like it's full of amazing characters and I love that!

  6. It's been a LOONG time since I last read Allende. House of Spirits is a classic and you should read Eva Luna and Daughter of Fortune too.

    Happy slammin!

  7. I'm thinking this is not a book for me. Thanks for the honest thoughts.

  8. Whoa. This sounds intense. I'm not sure I would pick it up, but I suppose it would depend on my mood. Nice review Courtney.

  9. This does sounds really interesting, Courtney. Sometimes I like a read like this. I'm glad you ended up liking it overall despite it's slow pace. Thanks for an insightful review. :)

  10. Thanks for the great review. I really like books that capture my attention right from the start better to.

  11. Eastern Voyage Pvt. Ltd. providing all rajasthan related tours like Royal rajasthan tours, Heritage tours of Rajasthan, Wildlife tour of Rajasthan, You can see culture, tradition, customs, foods, cloths, art, royality, wild life, adventure etc on these tours.
    Rajasthan Tours


Comments are bloggy food. Feed me!

Recent Post