Allende, Isabel "Maya's Notebook" (Spanish: El Cuaderno de Maya) - 2011
If she hadn't been on the list, yet, with this book Isabel Allende would have made it onto my favourite author's list. I absolutely loved this book.
Maya is a girl with a tremendous story. She has a Chilean father and a Danish mother and is brought up by her Chilean grandmother and her second husband who is African American. Can it get any more international? Can a girl who is loved by a grandmother and looked after so carefully, get into trouble?
Yes, she can, if she feels that neither her mother, who just left her when she was a baby, nor her father, who is always away on business, wants her in her life, that she is unwanted.
And this is what happens to Maya, she ends up with all the problems our parents warn us about. Sex, Drugs and Rock'n Roll, well, less of the rock'n roll and more of the drugs, unfortunately. She gets into so much trouble that the whole world seems to be chasing her.
But her grandmother has a solution, like always. She simply sends Maya to an old friend who lives on a Chilean island with only a few villages on it. Nobody knows where she is and that is a good thing.
Here she has all the time in the world to get back on her feet and find out who she really is.
The description of all the characters, whether they are in Mayas former or in her new life, is just fantastic, we can imagine very well being part of any of the communities Maya is catapulted into. She learns what life is all about, that there is a lot more to it than a quick "fix" can give her. Great voice, Isabel Allende, great storytelling. She builds anticipation by switching from Maya's life before to the one after she arrived in Chile. Her writing is poetical, yet it rings so true. You want to believe this is a true story.
Some great quotes:
"Nothing strong can be built on a foundation of lies and omissions."
"Our demons lose their power when we pull them out of the depths where they hide and look them in the face in broad daylight."
"Happiness is slippery, it slithers away between your fingers, but problems are something you can hold on to, they've got handles, and they're rough and hard."
From the back cover:
"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."
I really need to improve my Spanish, these authors seem to be the greatest.
Read about my other Isabel Allende books here.