When I think about a book that has truly touched my heart, “Paula” by Isabel Allende stands out. It transports me back to the time I was living in Brazil, after my first stint in the United States. Having just finished college, I was not much younger than Paula, Allende’s ailing daughter, and was waiting to hear back from the grad schools I had applied for.
Unlike Paula, I felt I had my whole life ahead of me. As someone who’s always had a deep love for books and a real admiration for Isabel Allende, “Paula” held a special place in my heart then. And even now, nearly three decades later, the emotions it stirs within me remain as vivid as ever.
What makes “Paula” so unique is that it deviates from Allende’s typical fictional narratives. It’s a heartfelt, non-fiction work—an emotional farewell to her beloved daughter. Within its pages, it beautifully weaves together the tapestry of Latin American history, closely guarded family secrets, ghost encounters, and, above all, the enduring and profound bond between mothers and their children.
As a writer, I have always admired Allende’s ability to blend her personal journey with a much larger exploration of life’s complexities. I also understand how writing allows us to process our emotions, especially pain. “Paula” is a Latino story, but it is also a touching reminder that literature has the incredible power to transcend time and space, leaving a lasting impact on its readers. It serves as a testament to the enduring influence of storytelling and the deep emotional resonance of personal narratives.
“Paula” is a book that emphasizes the profound and lasting effects of love, loss, and the unbreakable bonds that tie us to our loved ones. It also speaks to the universal emotions that we share as humans. To this day, “Paula” continues to shape my perspective on life, love, and the incredible power of words.
–Danielle Duran Baron