Being brutally honest about books

Showing posts with label maya's notebook. Show all posts
Showing posts with label maya's notebook. Show all posts

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende

Maya's Notebook
Date finished: 19 March 2015

Although she's a bestselling author, the only reason I've heard about Isabel Allende is because she was mentioned in Spanish class a couple of times last year and the year before. About a month ago I was looking for Hispanic writers to read, and remembered her name and looked up her books. This one sounded alright, so I picked it up from the school library and gave it a go. I found myself liking it more than I expected.

Maya's Notebook is a beautiful story about grief and healing, but also a dark tale about addiction and crime. The contrast between Maya in Las Vegas and Maya in Chiloé at the end of the novel shows amazing character development as well as healing, and seeing her get better throughout the novel fills you with hope that while life can get bad, with time and effort and the love of others, it will improve.

There are lots of fantastic quotes about life and love, such as

Life is a tapestry we weave day by day with threads of different colours, some heavy and dark, others thin and bright, all the threads having their uses.


It doesn’t matter who we love, nor does it matter whether our love is reciprocated or not or if the relationship lasts. Just the experience of loving is enough, that’s what transforms us.

This novel is very slow-paced and I struggled to get through it at first. I very nearly gave up on it, exhausted by the long paragraphs and lack of variation in sentence length, but I persevered. Once I got through the first 30 or 40 pages, it got easier to read and even became enjoyable. Even though there is little in the way of action, Maya's Notebook is still a good read and I ended up really liking it.

I thought the structure was quite effective. Usually I'm not a fan of flashbacks, but because there are two stories being told linearly, one in the past and one in the present, it worked and I liked slowly uncovering the story of Maya's past, how her life gets worse and worse, while in the present she makes progress towards getting better.

The setting is what initially interested me. I've always wanted to go to Chile, and learning about Chilean/Chilote culture was fascinating. I had no idea what Chilean life was like, so this book opened my eyes to the reality of it. I grew up in a tiny, isolated place too, but it was nothing like Chiloé, so seeing how the community in this novel works together was lovely.

The first person point of view made me sympathise with Maya, which was good because I don't think I would have, otherwise. I cannot relate to Maya in any way, but I cared about her, feeling sorry for her when she was at her lowest in Las Vegas and wanting her to heal and be safe in Chiloé.

While it is slow-paced and long, this book is not at all boring, and the characters and relationships, rather than gripping plot, are what plays an important part in the story. I highly recommend Maya's Notebook to anyone wanting to read about Chile and what it takes to move on from the past. I know I'll be picking up other Isabel Allende books, after reading this one.

I'm Alexandria, a 19-year-old reader/writer/blogger from New Zealand. I love language, history, and sci-fi. Hi! I'm always around if you want to talk, which you can do via comments, the contact form, or Facebook.

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