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Book Review: LOVE AND OLIVES by Jenna Evans Welsh

A Greek-romantic coming-of-age novel, Love and Olives brings to life a young girls adventure to discover Atlantis and to rediscover her relationship with her father. Following Olive, a witty and stylish teen, on a trip to Santorini Greece to help her father on a mysterious project, this book combines romance with adventure. Jenna Evans Welsh portrays the deep seeded resentment that can grow when one is abandoned as a child, and how this abandonment can impact ones life and outward personality. 

Throughout the novel, Olive becomes more aware of who she really is. She begins to break away at the shell she put up to protect herself so long ago and show her true self. Partly due to her romance with Theo — a swoon worthy book boyfriend — this breakthrough occurs on her ‘vacation’, a trip to the world that was so prominent in her dreams as a child: Atlantis. 

Told from the perspective of Olive, this adventure to a beautiful island depicts stunningly intricate descriptions of the townspeople and the views (especially the sunsets) that make Santorini, well, Santorini.

While eclectic and self-absorbed, Olive’s father has a kind heart and good intentions when it concerns his daughter. With multiple layers and shades of gray, Nico Varnakis is a well developed character who helps Olive come to terms with who she really is and who she wants to become. 

Diving into Love and Olive, I was a bit skeptical. The beginning scenes lacked adventure and just made me feel sorry for Olive and how insecure (and fake) she seemed to be. It wasn’t until I plowed through the turmoil that I was able to fall in love with a culture and an expedition like no other: to prove Atlantis existed with a father who disappeared for half of Olive’s life. The characters in Welsh’s novel are deep and diverse, with complex emotions and relationships. Welsh is able to convey real life into this novel, creating a world in which nothing is perfect. . . yet the characters are still happy. 

Although, when brought down to its core, this novel is centered around a girl whose father left her behind (and the reconnection between them later in life), Welsh does a fantastic job of twisting in adventure, romance, and greek culture.

Love and Olive is a nice, light read, taking you away from the cold winter straight to an escapade in Greece. My rating? 4.5 out of 5 stars. 

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