Isabel Allende is one of the authors whose books have always had a place at my parents’ library, and I actually think they have all of her titles, so this was one of the first authors I read when I began reading adult books, but somehow I stopped reading her for so many years until now, and I have found the experience very pleasant for I have enjoyed her expressions and choices of words in this unique Latin American way, so colourful and fancy, far from our “boring” Spanish words.

I guess English-speaking people reading translations can’t experience this, as well as I read translations from authors from all over the world that seem to have been written by a person born in Madrid, but I wanted to share the experience of reading from authors whose language looks identical to your own, but yet it’s so different that it surprises you in every page.

Now, let’s talk about the book.

We are in Brooklyn in a particularly terrifying snowstorm, when Richard Bowmaster, a university professor in his sixties, has a little accident when his car hits another vehicle driven by Evelyn, a young Guatemalan girl who later seeks Richard for help because not only has she taken the car without her employers’ permission, but there is also a corpse in her car trunk. Richard, in turn, calls her unusual tenant Lucía, a resolute Chilean lady who works with him at the university and decides that Evelyn is in danger of deportation for being undocumented, so the three of them have to get rid of the corpse and protect the girl.

Of course, nothing is what it seems, and in their journey the author tells us their background stories, talking about the recent history of Chile and Guatemala, as well as the cultural gap between Richard and his Brazilian wife, being Evelyn’s the most emotional one. The girl left her country running away from violence to start a journey that for many people ends up in death, prison or as a sexual slave, so you realize how these people risk everything they have towards a very uncertain future.

However, the book is not only a tragic story; the journey that brings together these three strangers is kind of crazy, and the ideas and comments from Lucía makes the story hilarious, so in the end you see it becomes a story of hope, joy and second changes at any age.

It may not be the best book by Isabel Allende, but I found it pleasant, with the right amount of drama and humor, and three characters who makes you want to keep reading.

In the midst of winter
Isabel Allende
Atria Books
Publishing date: 31st of October 2017.