Maya’s Notebook is a startling novel of suspense from New York Times bestselling author Isabel Allende.
This contemporary coming-of-age story centers upon Maya Vidal, a remarkable teenager abandoned by her parents. Maya grew up in a rambling old house in Berkeley with her grandmother Nini, whose formidable strength helped her build a new life after emigrating from Chile in 1973 with a young son, and her grandfather Popo, a gentle African-American astronomer.
When Popo dies, Maya goes off the rails. Along with a circle of girlfriends known as "the vampires," she turns to drugs, alcohol, and petty crime--a downward spiral that eventually leads to Las Vegas and a dangerous underworld, with Maya caught between 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. In the care of her grandmother’s old friend, Manuel Arias, and surrounded by strange new acquaintances, Maya begins to record her story in her notebook, as she tries to make sense of her past and unravel the mysteries of her family and her own life.
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About the Author
Born in Peru and raised in Chile, Isabel Allende is the author of nine novels, including Inès of My Soul,Daughter of Fortune, and Portrait in Sepia. She has also written a collection of stories, four memoirs, and a trilogy of children's novels. Her books have been translated into more than twenty-seven languages and have become bestsellers across four continents. In 2004 she was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Letters. Isabel Allende lives in California.
Hometown:San Rafael, California
Date of Birth:August 2, 1942
Place of Birth:Lima, Peru
Read an Excerpt
By Isabel Allende
HarperCollins PublishersCopyright © 2013 Isabel Allende
All rights reserved.
Aweek ago my grandmother gave me a dry-eyed hug at the
San Francisco airport and told me again that if I valued my
life at all, I should not get in touch with anyone I knew until we
could be sure my enemies were no longer looking for me. My Nini
is paranoid, as the residents of the People's Independent Repub-
lic of Berkeley tend to be, persecuted as they are by the govern-
ment and extraterrestrials, but in my case she wasn't exaggerating:
no amount of precaution could ever be enough. She handed me a
hundred-page notebook so I could keep a diary, as I did from the
age of eight until I was fifteen, when my life went off the rails.
“You're going to have time to get bored, Maya. Take advantage of
it to write down the monumental stupidities you've committed, see
if you can come to grips with them,” she said. Several of my dia-
ries are still in existence, sealed with industrial-strength adhesive
tape. My grandfather kept them under lock and key in his desk for
years, and now my Nini has them in a shoebox under her bed. This
will be notebook number nine. My Nini believes they'll be of use
to me when I get psychoanalyzed, because they contain the keys
to untie the knots of my personality; but if she'd read them, she'd
know they contain a huge pile of tales tall enough to outfox Freud
himself. My grandmother distrusts on principle professionals who
charge by the hour, since quick results are not profitable for them.
However, she makes an exception for psychiatrists, because one of
them saved her from depression and from the traps of magic when
she took it into her head to communicate with the dead.
4 Isabel Allende
I put the notebook in my backpack, so I wouldn't upset her, with
no intention of using it, but it's true that time stretches out here and
writing is one way of filling up the hours. This first week of exile
has been a long one for me. I'm on a tiny island so small it's almost
invisible on the map, in the middle of the Dark Ages. It's com-
plicated to write about my life, because I don't know how much
I actually remember and how much is a product of my imagina-
tion; the bare truth can be tedious and so, without even noticing,
I change or exaggerate it, but I intend to correct this defect and lie
as little as possible in the future. And that's why now, when even
the Yanomamis of the Amazonas use computers, I am writing by
hand. It takes me ages and my writing must be in Cyrillic script,
because I can't even decipher it myself, but I imagine it'll gradu-
ally straighten out page by page. Writing is like riding a bicycle:
you don't forget how, even if you go for years without doing it.
I'm trying to go in chronological order, since some sort of order
is required and I thought that would make it easy, but I lose my
thread, I go off on tangents or I remember something important
several pages later and there's no way to fit it in. My memory goes
in circles, spirals, and somersaults.
My name is Maya Vidal. I'm nineteen years old, female, single—
due to a lack of opportunities rather than by choice, I'm currently
without a boyfriend. Born in Berkeley, California, I'm a U.S. citi-
zen, and temporarily taking refuge on an island at the bottom of
the world. They named me Maya because my Nini has a soft spot
for India and my parents hadn't come up with any other name,
even though they'd had nine months to think about it. In Hindi,
maya means “charm, illusion, dream”: nothing at all to do with my
personality. Attila would suit me better, because wherever I step
no pasture will ever grow again. My story begins in Chile with
Maya's Notebook 5
my grandmother, my Nini, a long time before I was born, because
if she hadn't emigrated, she'd never have fallen in love with my
Popo or moved to California, my father would never have met my
mother and I wouldn't be me, but rather a very different Chilean
girl. What do I look like? I'm five-ten, 128 pounds when I play soc-
cer and several more if I don't watch out. I've got muscular legs,
clumsy hands, blue or gray eyes, depending on the time of day,
and blond hair, I think, but I'm not sure since I haven't seen my
natural hair color for quite a few years now. I didn't inherit my
grandmother's exotic appearance, with her olive skin and those
dark circles under her eyes that make her look a little depraved, or
my father's, handsome as a bullfighter and just as vain. I don't look
like my grandfather either—my magnificent Popo—because un-
fortunately he's not related to me biologically, since he's my Nini's
I look like my mother, at least as far as size and coloring go. She
wasn't a princess of Lapland, as I used to think before I reached
the age of reason, but a Danish air hostess my father, who's a pilot,
fell in love with in midair. He was too young to get married, but
he got it into his head that this was the woman of his dreams and
stubbornly pursued her until she eventually got tired of turning
him down. Or maybe it was because she was pregnant. The fact
is, they got married and regretted it within a week, but they stayed
together until I was born. Days after my birth, while her husband
was flying somewhere, my mother packed her bags, wrapped me
up in a little blanket, and took a taxi to her in-laws' house. My
Nini was in San Francisco protesting against the Gulf War, but my
Popo was home and took the bundle
Excerpted from Maya's Notebook by Isabel Allende. Copyright © 2013 Isabel Allende. Excerpted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers.
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