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Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Maya's Notebook - Isabelle Allende

Oh, this was a magnificent book.  From the beautiful cover through the last page, I loved it.

From the Publisher:
Neglected by her parents, nineteen-year-old Maya Nidal has grown up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandparents. Her grandmother Nidia, affectionately known as Nini, is a force of nature—willful and outspoken, unconventionally wise with a mystical streak, and fiercely protective—a woman whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating 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. With her girlfriends—a tight circle known as the Vampires—she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime, a downward spiral that eventually bottoms 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 about her family, and embarks on her greatest adventure: the journey into her own soul.

Strengths: The character development in this book was excellent. Maya's flaws were not glossed over nor were her more excellent character traits exalted. Other characters in the novel were highly developed as well. The mystery of Maya's past was woven in slowly but not too slowly. The tension was high enough to keep readers interested but not so high that I felt stressed out from reading.  I lke to be right on the edge of that plane!

Weaknesses: Some readers might not like the back and forth of much of this novel, moving from Maya's present to her past and back again.  although I sometimes do not like that style myself, I thought it was vey well done in this book. 

This book will be an excellent high school/adult crossover book and I am hoping it gets some recognition from the alex Awards committee. 

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