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Allende (The House of the Spirits) moves away from her usual magical realist historical fiction into a contemporary setting, and the result is a chaotic hodgepodge. The story, told through 19-year-old Maya Vidal's journals, alternates between Maya's dismal past and uncertain present, which finds her in hiding on an isolated island off Chile's coast, where her grandmother, Nidia, has taken her. Maya's diary relates a journey into self-destruction that begins, after her beloved step-grandfather Popi's death, with dangerous forays into sex, drugs, and delinquency, but ends up in a darkly cartoonish crime caper, as she becomes involved with gangsters in Las Vegas. Maya describes her present surroundings, meanwhile, with a bland detachment that would be more believable coming from an anthropologist than a teenager. Allende's trademark passion for Chile is as strong as ever, and her clever writing lends buoyancy to the narrative's deadweight, but this novel is unlikely to entrance fans old or new. Agent: Carmen Balcells, Carmen Balcells Agency. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
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International best-selling novelist Allende (Ines of My Soul) delivers a no-holds-barred story of Maya Vidal, a troubled 19-year-old American living in exile on Chiloe, a remote island off the coast of Chile. Over the span of one year, Maya records in her notebooks how she arrived on the island and regained her life there. She was raised in Berkeley, CA, by unconventional grandparents, Chilean native Nini and Popo, an African American astronomy professor. When her beloved Popo died, Maya's world fell apart; a few wrong turns led her into drugs, shoplifting, and then, in Las Vegas, to an association with a despicable drug dealer named Brandon, whose hidden cache of counterfeit money she revealed. Soon, a corrupt cop, Brandon's killers, and the FBI were all after her. Nini sent her to the bottom of the world to stay with Manuel, an anthropologist writing a book on magic in Chiloe. Surrounded by the accepting Chilean villagers, Maya learns about herself, her heritage, and her connection to Chile's turbulent past. VERDICT Allende paints a vivid picture contrasting Maya's drug-clouded past and her recovery in Chiloe. Yet another accomplished work by a master storyteller that will enthrall and captivate. This is a must-read. [See Prepub Alert, 11/12/12.]-Donna -Bettencourt, Mesa Cty. P.L., Palisade, CO (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Internationally revered for her truth-seeking historical fiction, Allende takes on the present with equal bewitchment and intensity. As Maya's grandmother, Nidia, sends her into protective custody on Chiloe, an island off Chile's southern coast, she hands her a notebook in which this imperiled and irascible 19-year-old records her wrenching story. Fair and tall, Maya does not resemble her Chilean side, neither her absentee pilot father nor tough-love Berkeley activist Nidia, but, rather, her Danish flight-attendant mother, who left her newborn with her in-laws. To further complicate matters, Maya's guiding light was her grandfather, Nidia's second husband, a wise and loving African American astronomer. It is his death that precipitates the voyage to the underworld of addiction, crime, and homelessness that nearly kills her. Maya alternates between recounting her past and reporting on her gradual acclimation to Chiloe, a microcosm of Chile's cultural and spiritual splendor and traumatic and tragic history. Every character is enthralling, including Manuel, the all-but-monastic anthropologist and political exile who takes Maya in; Freddy, the young junkie Maya meets in Las Vegas; and the good witches, who restore her sense of worth. This is a boldly plotted, sharply funny, and purposefully bone-shaking novel of sexual violence, political terror, collective shame, and dark family secrets, all transcended by courage and love. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This explosive novel, supported by a national tour and a major media campaign, will bring in readers new to Allende as well as the fans who make her a best-selling literary star.--Seaman, Donna Copyright 2010 Booklist