Sunday, November 15, 2020

Love & Olives (Love & Gelato #3)

Evans, Jenna Welch. Love & Olives (Love & Gelato #3)
November 10th 2020 by Simon Pulse 
E ARC provided by Edelweiss Plus

Olive Varanakis's father was obsessed with the lost city of Atlantis, and since he was born and raised on the island of Santorini, Greece, he left Olive in the US with her mother when she was eight years old and returned to the island. He has only sent a few occasional post cards, but Liv (as she prefers to be known now) has a box with the 25 items he left behind him, which included their favorite annoted map of Santorini. As she is preparing to apply to colleges (her boyfriend, Dax, wants her to go to Stanford with him, but she would rather go to the Rhode Island School of Design to pursue her art work), she gets a post card from her father asking her to come and spend time with him as he is working on a project. Her mother insists that she go. After a long flight, she is met by the exuberant but entirely unknown Theo, who is her age, very attractive, and does seem to know who her father is. Her luggage is sent separately as she takes off with Theo on his motorcycle. Her father has arranged a big party in her honor and given her a set of very special oil paints, but she is still irritated. She is sharing a small room right off the bookstore that Theo's mother owns with Theo, and the two spend a lot of time together working on a documentary about Atlantis that her father thinks National Geographic will feature. There are many problems along the way, family secrets revealed, light romance, but most of all, a chance for Olive to connect with her heritage and make things right with her father. 
Strengths: This is a Young Adult novel that will also be popular with middle school readers. Liv isn't thrilled about spending time in Greece, but she doesn't complain, either, and she embarks on the documentary with good humor. The descriptions of Santorini are great, and I loved Theo and his mother, especially the book store. This gets into a lot of information about her father's mental health at the end, and I don't want to spoil that ARC, but it was well done and helped Liv make sense of her childhood and some anxiety that she herself has. The cover is fantastic! 
Weaknesses: I can't wait to see this in person; the publisher's listing has it at 352 pages, but my E ARC said 514! It was a bit on the long side, although the print seems to be middle grade (12-14 point) rather than young adult size (10 point), which helps. I also thought it odd that she would room with Theo. 
What I really think: The first two books, which are not related to this in any way that I can figure (other than the general theme of traveling) are hugely popular in my library. I do love books about Greece, so I'm definitely purchasing this, but I wish it had mentioned the scholarly archaeology that has been done on Santorini and was a little shorter. 

Most readers won't care about this, but I was really surprised that there is no mention of the archaeological digs done in the at Akrotiri on Santorini by Spyridon Marinatos, or of Sir Arthur Evans and Knossos (although Olive does meet a man whose boyfriend is an archaeologist vaguely studying "the Minoans"). Why do I care? I was lucky enough to visit the site with Nanno Marinatos in 1985 and heard about all of the theories about Atlantis. Yep. That's just the flavor of Geek I was, and it did interfere with my own personal enjoyment of the book a bit!

This is me with my college roommate. We were both Classics majors both both ended up becoming librarians. 

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