This is the newest book by my favorite author, Isabel Allende. I'm also counting this one for the In The Pub challenge. You can probably already tell that I am going to love this one, and, though I don't want to give my review away, you're probably right. This book is a non-fiction memoir that is a follow-up to Paula. which is one of my all time favorite books. In this one, Allende updates her dead daughter, Paula, on the events in her family since her death. Allende's family is a clan that consists of her children, their families, her husband's children, their families, friends, and an assortment of people that they have "picked up" along the way. Allende's definition of family, or clan, reminds me of a hanging in my own home which reads that "Friends are the family one finds along the way."
STRENGTHS OF THE SUM OF OUR DAYS: There are many! I love the way Allende describes her family and friends. She creates very vivid word pictures which is amazing because she writes in Spanish and is translated into English. I also loved hearing the stories behind a number of her novels, including her novel on Zorro and my second favorite, The Infinite Plan. In this book, Allende's memories take on the strength of a well-written novel with the way she is able to turn events into stories and plots. It was quite touching to read her reflections on her grandchildren, and her unabashed love and protection of them. That is why a health crisis for her granddaughter is so wrenching in the book, especially with its allusions to Paula's fate. Luckily, all is well in this book.
I also enjoyed the relationship between Allende and her second husband, Willie, because she portrays it in a realistic light. There are times when they disagree and fight which makes it feel like Allende is being emotionally honest with her readers. That's probably the chief strength of this book - Allende's unflinching ability to be honest about her life and the emotional components of it.
WEAKNESSES OF THE SUM OF OUR DAYS: I really want to say nothing - that it is a perfect book just as it is. However, I would have liked to know more about her husband, Willie. He seems to have an interesting viewpoint that wasn't always explored in the book because it was, obviously, told from her point of view.
Overall, I'd give this one five stars. It is probably one of my favorites of the year so far. It also came at a really good time for me because Allende talked about her reaction to Paula's death and the need to move beyond the pain which was a message I needed to hear. If you've read it, I'd love to know what you thought. If you haven't read it, do yourself a favor and add it to your TBR pile.