Juan Diego’s little sister is a mind reader. As a teenager, he struggles to keep anything secret – Lupe knows all the worst things that go through his mind. And sometimes she knows more. What a terrible burden it is to know – or to think you know – your future, or worse, the future of someone you love. What might a young girl be driven to do if she thought she had the power to change what lies ahead?
Later in life, Juan Diego embarks on a journey to fulfil a promise he made in his youth. It is a long story and it has long awaited an ending, but Juan Diego is unable to write the final chapters.
This is the story of what happens when the future collides with the past.
Irving's (In One Person) latest depicts Juan Diego, an aging novelist on a pilgrimage to the Philippines and set on fulfilling a promise he made in his childhood to a dying friend. Juan Diego was a "dump kid," living with his sister, Lupe, in a shack in Mexico among the families who sort refuse for anything of value. But Juan Diego was exceptional, a self-taught reader who seemed fated for more. Through vivid dreams that Juan Diego has as a result of becoming confused about his medication while on a meandering journey to Manila, Irving relates his escape from his humble childhood. Irving fans will recognize similarities with past work: a circus, ambiguous parentage, a child with supernatural powers, various Christian churches, and a transvestite all play major roles. But while these elements may appear recycled, the protagonist's journey does feels new. Diehard Irving fans will likely enjoy this latest, but those without such loyalties might be better served reading (or rereading) A Prayer for Owen Meany.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Not my favorite John Irving novel
Juan Diego had an interesting journey from a childhood sorting garbage in Mexico to an accomplished novelist in the US. The story gravitates between the present when an older Juan travels to the Philippines to his Mexican childhood he spent with his incomprehensible mind reading sister and a cast of characters that that become pivotal in Juan's eventual passage to America.
John Irving is my favorite author which is why I was disappointed with this book where some of the relationships are not fully developed and explained and the story telling meanders a little aimlessly. I kept hoping the story would draw me in like Widow for One Year or even Until I Find You but it never did. The unique and colorful characters are there as are the bitter sweet dialogues but the extra something that makes it hard to put a John Irving novel down is missing.
I'll wait for Irving's next novel which will hopefully return to form.