This enthralling and rousing novel sees Isabel Allende's glorious storytelling simplified for readers of all ages, and fuelled by a passionate concern for the planet's future.
Alex Cold, 15 years of age, suddenly sees his stable, calm life change drastically with the revelation that his adored mother has cancer. To facilitate her treatment Alex must fly to New York to stay for a while with his grandmother.
When she fails to show up at the airport, Alex is conned by a seductive girl and loses all his possessions while striving to work out how to get to his grandmother's house. He makes it, eventually, and passes, as she declares, her first test for him.
His grandmother reveals herself to be a formidable woman: energetic, spirited, brave and direct. She is an expeditioner and has insatiable curiosity. It so happens that she is about to head off to the Amazon basin to explore the rainforest in search of fabled headhunting tribes and the mythical marauding Beast. Rather than change her plans, she simply takes Alex along with her.
So his Amazonian adventures begin in earnest, and he is exposed for the first time in his life, to the jungle, to Nature, complex, raw, fecund and all-furnishing, to a simpler life, to the greed of the western world, to despoiled land, to neolithic tribes, to the world of the spirits, to endangered species, to ecology, to an earth-girl called Nadia, and brought to think about his place in the world and his newly intimate connection to it . . .