But for every aha moment, there was a WTF as well.

This was not the book that I thought it would be. In fact, Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch is so insanely far from what I was imagining that I was actually a little disappointed. It’s not every day a book mentions Atlantis hunting and gives you a novel so steeped in reality. But, even as I acknowledge this disappointment and admit to the fact that it’s not the book I was excited for, Love & Olives is a pretty amazing and emotional read.

When he left, I think he took that smile with him…

The bulk of this coming-of-age story is centered around the relationship between main character Olive–or Liv, as she has renamed herself–and her father. After leaving Olive and her mother when she was eight-years-old, their family was devastated. Now, nearly ten years later, her long-lost father invites her out to Santorini to film the finding of Atlantis, a dream they’d both shared when she was young.

Of course, after everything she’s been through, Olive is now a skeptic. She is also very wary of getting close to her father again. After all, he did leave her when she was eight.

There’s certainly an interesting dynamic between Olive and her magnetic father. As a reader, you feel torn in different directions regarding what to think. It’s very difficult to forgive Nico for leaving his daughter at such a young age, yet there’s an underlying implication that there must have been a reason for it. To Olive, though, she’s certain he left to go Atlantis hunting.

My little girl dreams were bursting in my chest…

If you’re looking for a fantastical tale with exciting and dangerous moments, this really isn’t the book you want to pick up. Love & Olives, at its core, is about a father daughter relationship and what growing up really looks like. Atlantis, unfortunately, is really just a backdrop. And this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, I think it’s brilliant how the author wove the tale around this shared excitement.

For me, I think the problem was merely that I picked up the book hoping for an epic treasure hunting expedition. Instead, I was given a realistic story about a young girl with an eccentric father and her trip to Santorini to find both him and herself. And it’s a good story, I’ll give you that. I don’t have many complaints about it. Even the explanation for why her father left was impressive.

I think certain parts of the story dragged on a bit more than was absolutely necessary, but nothing too drastic. This story was nothing earth-shattering. Emotional moments didn’t hit me hard the way you’d exactly want. The romance was only okay. But it was a good story.

The olive branch has historically been used as a symbol of peace.

In the end, this probably isn’t a book I’d go out of my way to put on my shelf. I wouldn’t mind keeping it if someone bought it for me. At the same time, though, I don’t know if this is the kind of book I’d want to read again. I think there’s somewhat of a disconnect in my ability to deeply feel the emotions of the story. And that’s alright, really. At the end of the day, I don’t think this book was written for me.

I was provided a free copy of this book via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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