The Infinite Plan was Chilean writer Isabel Allende’s first novel following her move to the United States. Although it was written in Spanish, the book is set in California and chronicles the life of a European American man. Allende uses her character’s experiences to examine the factors that shaped the United States’ social history in the decades following World War II. Her focus is the Latino culture in California, in which the main character comes of age.
As the book opens, young Gregory Reeves and his family are living a nomadic life as his father preaches a spiritual doctrine he calls the Infinite Plan. When the elder Reeves falls ill in Los Angeles, the family settles in the barrio (although they are not Latino). Gregory grows up experiencing life as a member of a minority group within the community. His closest friend is Carmen Morales, whose family comes to regard him as an honorary son. Following high school, Gregory leaves home for Berkeley and college while Carmen remains in the barrio until an unwanted pregnancy and near-fatal abortion make her an outcast.
Gregory leaves an unhappy marriage to serve a harrowing tour of duty in Vietnam, while Carmen lives abroad and begins designing jewelry. Both meet again in Berkeley, where Gregory embarks on an ambitious quest for success that leads him away from his youthful idealism and into a second failed marriage and problems with alcoholism. Carmen adopts her dead brother’s...
(The entire section is 433 words.)