Wednesday, February 27, 2013

The Sum of Our Days

Hi everyone,

I didn't know about The Sum of Our Days but found it when my dad and I stopped in the World Bank's bookstore, Infoshop, on our way to lunch. Who knew that the World Bank had such a great bookstore in the middle of D.C. and that inside on sale was a sequel to Isabel Allende's amazing book Paula?

I've read most of Isabel Allende's books. Paula, her 1995 memoir about dealing with her daughter's illness and death, is among my favorites. Of course, whenever I tell someone that, they ask, "Why would you want to read that?" Since The Sum of Our Days continues the story of Isabel's journey, you may ask the same question. But I still highly recommend both books!

Paula Frias Allende suffered from porphyria, a hereditary disease that attacks the nervous system and skin. When she fell into a coma, Isabel started writing her a letter about what she was missing so that she could easily catch up when she awoke. She died in 1992 at age 28.

Obviously, parts of this book are really sad. But, overall, its a moving celebration of Paula's life and her family and their strength in getting through an unimaginable experience. By the time you finish reading, you'll know Paula, her family and friends, and all the lives she touched. They are an entertaining bunch, described by an amazing storyteller. She will make you laugh, no matter how dark this topic sounds. Paula doesn't die until the end. That's when you'll cry.

In The Sum of Our Days, Isabel continues her letter to her daughter 15 or so years later, bringing her up to speed on all that's happened since she left them. Among other interesting stories, I learned all about Isabel's husband Willie, their marriage, and his side of the family. This time, his daughter--who battled drug addiction--made me cry. But, it's okay because plenty of other moments in this story made me laugh too.

In this book, you'll catch up with the members of the Allende family who were introduced in Paula, including Paula's husband Ernesto and her brother Nicolas. You'll also meet new friends, girlfriends, boyfriends, and even surprise relatives. While Paula's memory is a constant presence throughout this book, it's uplifting to read how the family has grown to live without her physically there. They rely on each other now more than ever before and work at strengthening their bonds. It was another kind of joyful celebration, one of inner-strength and the importance of love and family.

Once again, I was sad when this book ended: there were no more pages to read. Isabel Allende is surrounded by her family, who all live in the San Francisco Bay area. By the time I finished reading, I wanted to live there too! It's no wonder she's such a prolific writer, surrounded every day by such a vibrant cast of characters. Don't you want to meet them? Go get these books!


P.S. Check it out: Isabel Allende is going to be at National Geographic, here in D.C., on May 1st!
Buy yourself a ticket ($22) for this entertaining evening, and I'll see you there!


Anastasia said...

She's such a great author and story teller...I thought Paula would be too sad to read but after reading your post, i want to read it now...

Melissa Connolly said...

You should! They are both great books; I'm sure you'll enjoy them! Let me know what you think...