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Review: The Roots of the Olive Tree

September 7, 2012

Five generations of Keller women live together on the olive grove that was planted by Anna’s father.  112 year old Anna is the oldest and she’s in great shape physically and mentally – in fact, she plans to live long enough to be the oldest person alive.  Living with her are her daughter, granddaughter, great granddaughter, great-great granddaughter and great-great-great grandson.  Their lives are quiet and peaceful for the most part until a geneticist comes to interview them and take their blood.  He’s hoping to unlock the secret of their longevity and ends up unlocking other secrets instead.

The Roots of the Olive Tree shows the potential of debut novelist Courtney Miller Santo.  This book had quite a few characters and I had no trouble telling them apart.  It does help that the Keller women’s name are in alphabetical order – Anna, Betts, Callie, Deb, Erin – but each character’s personality is distinct enough that I could have kept them straight in my mind regardless.

As you would expect with that many women, there are secrets and drama and I was fascinated by all of it.  The story is told in the third person but the point of view shifts between the women.  I found the narrative shifts to be smooth and easy to follow.

I was really enjoying this book and thought the story was moving along splendidly and. for me,  it just ended abruptly.  There is an epilogue tacked on at the end but I was rather jarred by the unexpected ending.   I wanted the ends to be tied up a little more than they were.  I’m hoping Santo has future plans for these characters.  The ending kept me from loving The Roots of the Olive Tree, but I did like it quite a bit.

Review copy provided by Harper Collins. I am an Indiebound Affiliate.
29 Comments leave one →
  1. September 7, 2012 4:33 am

    112…wow.
    You had me until the whole abrupt ending came up..sounds jarring.

  2. September 7, 2012 6:44 am

    Hm, a book I recently read had the same abrupt ending issue – I wondered if it was because there would be a sequel. Still, it took away from how I felt about the book.

  3. September 7, 2012 7:09 am

    Often I get annoyed when I’ve invested time in a book, enjoyed the experience and the are turned off by the ending. (Now I know why Kathy Bates was SO irate with James Caan in Misery!) LOL

  4. September 7, 2012 7:34 am

    I’m looking forward to this one, even with its flaws.

  5. September 7, 2012 8:40 am

    I am totally with you on endings. I want the bow!

  6. September 7, 2012 10:33 am

    This sounds good if it has some nice family intrigue. I love that kind of stuff.

    http://sweetbooksnstuff.blogspot.com/
    Beth ^_^

  7. September 7, 2012 11:10 am

    This setting reminded me of a story I LOVED by Jane Kirkpatrick, Where Lilacs Still Bloom. Maybe you can read that one and find fulfillment!

  8. September 7, 2012 12:35 pm

    That’s too bad about the ending, the premise sounds good.

  9. bookingmama permalink
    September 7, 2012 12:36 pm

    Well, you already know that this book didn’t totally work for me.

  10. September 7, 2012 12:56 pm

    Thanks for your honest review, This does sound like a book I’d enjoy, though you have me wondering about that ending now!

  11. September 7, 2012 1:17 pm

    Sorry about the abrupt ending, thanks for the review.

    http://tributebooksmama.blogspot.com/2012/09/feature-follow.html

  12. September 7, 2012 2:09 pm

    With that testing the DNA/blood line, you just know there’s going to be some secret revealed about parentage. 🙂

  13. September 7, 2012 4:09 pm

    I heard about this book earlier and now after your review, I really want to read it. Glad you liked it despite the abrupt ending.

  14. September 7, 2012 4:43 pm

    Yep…I felt the same way with this ending!

  15. September 7, 2012 4:52 pm

    Yes, I had trouble with how the threads of the story didn’t come together for me. Otherwise, I enjoyed it.

  16. Amy @ My Friend Amy permalink
    September 7, 2012 5:01 pm

    Interesting about the abrupt ending! At least you enjoyed the rest of it. 🙂

  17. September 7, 2012 5:23 pm

    I know I’m going to give this book a try anyway–but I’m not thrilled with abrupt endings.

  18. September 7, 2012 6:52 pm

    I have this one and now I am a little nervous – many characters throw me off… I have trouble keeping them straight and spend a lot of time “back-paging” to figure out who is who…

  19. September 7, 2012 8:15 pm

    Sounds like the ending really left you cold here.

  20. September 7, 2012 8:32 pm

    This one does sound good, and it’s clever that the character names are in alphabetical order. Otherwise I know I’d get confused. I don’t like abrupt endings either, hopefully the story will continue to tie up the loose ends.

  21. September 7, 2012 8:57 pm

    Abrupt endings bother me …. especially when you’ve been enjoying a book so much.

  22. September 7, 2012 9:39 pm

    Thats too bad about the ending. It had such potential!

  23. September 8, 2012 1:50 am

    I have this in audio and am really looking forward to listening to it. I hope I’m not too annoyed by the ending.

  24. September 8, 2012 8:10 am

    Boo on abrupt endings. I’ve had them ruin entire books for me.

  25. Chinoiseries permalink
    September 8, 2012 2:55 pm

    So many generations co-habiting, wow! I think I’ve only read really positive reviews about this book so far. It sounds like a great story about the bonds of family.

  26. September 8, 2012 5:07 pm

    Oh, I hate endings like that. I passed up reviewing this one, but it still sounds interesting apart from the ending. I just can’t take on any books, right now.

  27. September 17, 2012 11:41 pm

    I love a multi-generational story and this one looks good. I’ll have to be prepared for the ending!

  28. September 23, 2012 2:28 pm

    I agree about the ending. There is a short prequel called Under the Olive Tree that’s free in the Kindle store right now. I haven’t read it but I understand it’s about Erin getting ready to leave for college.

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