July 18, 2012
The Roots of the Olive Tree by Courtney Miller Santo
The whole premise of this novel sounded interesting. Five generations of women, mostly living together, and the oldest being a hundred and twelve. I must confess, even though I know it's fiction I hoped to find the secret to living to such an age in this book. And while it's not in here, there were other secrets that were revealed.
Anna is 112, the 2nd oldest documented person in the world. And she wants to be the first, and even more so, she wants to live to be older than the oldest documented person was, 122. Bets, her daughter, isn't thrilled about the attention it's bringing the family though. A scientist, whom her daughter Callie is much attracted to, wants to study the family. And in doing so he could bring about secrets that she isn't ready to divulge. Her grand-daughter, Deb, is still in prison and it has brought her daughter Erin home for a parole hearing. But apparently the family is meant to grow because Erin comes home pregnant as well. These five women all have their struggles and everything they do in life seems to effect each other.
Some of the women I liked more than others. Anna for example, is hard not to like. She's just too old to get mad at and you have to admire her drive and gumption. Bets, while kind at heart, just wasn't as interesting as Anna, even though she herself is quite old. Callie I didn't like at all, I found her selfish and so was her daughter Deb. Erin, while the focus of a lot of the book, just never really had her character developed that much. I felt like she was just a side note, put there for the sake of a space filler and fifth generation. And their squabbles between each other were just uncomfortable sometimes.
I liked the way the stories weaved in and out of this book. We were taken to some of the women's pasts, to the present, and it all mingled together quite nicely. It could run somewhat slow at times, but was interesting enough that you wanted to keep reading just to see how long Anna would make it. Or at least that's why I kept reading. I can only hope that my grandfather (who is currently 90 and still golfing) lives as long as Anna, although he seems a good candidate for it. It was her story I cared the most about, the others were just filler. I do feel like there were a lot of questions left unanswered and that the book was somewhat unfinished. Unless they are planning a sequel I would have liked for those loose ends to be tied up.
Still, a very good book and one that I enjoyed reading. In fact, I read it in one sitting, it was hard to put down.
The Roots of the Olive Tree