PAULA is Isabel Allende’s letter to her daughter, which she started writing to tell Paula about her own life while her daughter was in a coma. PAULA is sad and joyful at the same time. Ms. Hen loved this book. It’s one of those rare books that can change your perspective on life. Ms. Hen has problems, but through reading this memoir, she learned a way to deal with her problems. Sometimes it takes a different viewpoint to see your own troubles in a new light.
Isabel Allende is a Chilean-American writer whose novel, THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS was an international bestseller, and she has published many other books. Ms. Hen loved THE HOUSE OF THE SPIRITS, and this memoir is very similar to that. Ms. Allende’s family is just as magical and interesting as the family in the novel.
Ms. Allende’s life was so complex and fascinating that Ms. Hen started to grow jealous reading this book. This is a life that a writer should have! Yes, there are some interesting things in Ms. Hen’s background, but not a wide range of fantastic events like the ones that occurred in Ms. Allende’s life. Ms. Hen knows she shouldn’t be jealous of the problems of someone else’s life, but Ms. Allende has such rich experiences that she could write about her own life forever.
Aside from her jealousy of Ms. Allende’s wild life, Ms. Hen loved this memoir. She got to know the family and the problems and learned the love the family had for each other. From Tata to Meme, to Granny to Paula, her family life was steeped in love and passion. Even when she and her husband Michael divorced, they still loved each other.
What Ms. Allende said she learned was important in life was to learn love and sorrow. She learned both, and writes about the experience of both with such vivid prose. When she goes to the forest to scream about Paula, we are there with her, pulling our hair out, and screaming for the loss of her brilliant daughter.
Paula seemed like a bright star. Ms. Hen wondered, how could someone be so purely good? But Ms. Hen has known some people who are that purely good, with no pretenses, people who don’t care about what anyone else thinks, who only want positivity to come to the world. Paula only wanted to do benevolent things, but her life was snuffed out at the age of twenty-eight.
Ms. Hen doesn’t think it’s fair that someone so good should die at such a young age, but she knows that life isn’t fair. Sometimes life is not as it should be. Sometimes the world can be a cruel place. But Isabel Allende’s love for her daughter and how she writes about that love is a reminder that life can be beautiful, even though it can rip your heart out.
Ms. Hen’s heart was ripped out reading this memoir. She read the ending in a coffee shop, and she found herself crying. She turned to the wall, so the other people around her wouldn’t see her tears. This is a book that shows what it means to be human: what it means to love, what it means to lose, and what it means to live. Ms. Hen would recommend this memoir to anyone who has a heart, which is hopefully everyone.