Love & Olives

Book review by
Andrea Beach, Common Sense Media
Love & Olives Book Poster Image
Teen reconnects with dad in sweet but long coming-of-ager.

Parents say

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Kids say

age 12+
Based on 4 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this book.

Educational Value

Words and phrases in Greek, some translated and some not. Facts about and quotes from Plato, especially his descriptions of Atlantis. The geography and culture of the island of Santorini. Various facts about the Minoan civilization, what orichalcum is, and of course olives.

Positive Messages

People and events aren't black or white, more than one thing can be true about them at the same time. Learning multiple truths will lead to better understanding. Sometimes you try to change yourself as a survival or defense mechanism, but that won't stop painful feelings and will keep you from being your best, truest self. Mental illness has nothing to do with the kind of person you are, and shouldn't be stigmatized. Just because something's difficult doesn't mean it isn't also good. Never stop looking.

Positive Role Models

Liv starts out pretty insecure. She's losing herself, sacrificing things she enjoys, to spend as much time as she can doing what her boyfriend wants to do. She knows she won't be happy following him around for much longer, but lacks the inner strength and confidence to be honest about her feelings. She's also pretty sure she knows everything about her painful past. Her travel experience gives her the confidence to break up with her boyfriend, and she learns that closing herself off to other perspectives means she's missing a full perspective. Theo is an ideal: handsome, funny, loyal, supportive, and challenging. Liv's mom and stepdad are loving and supportive. Her father was absent for many years but when they reconnect he shows how much he's always cared for and missed Liv. A couple of minor characters are in a same-sex relationship.

Violence

Some scariness from a recurring nightmare about drowning, and a panic attack while scuba diving.

Sex

Some romantic dynamics and feelings of attraction, lots of blushing, holding hands, and a kiss.

Language

"WTF."

Consumerism

High-end and upscale brand names establish a priviledged lifestyle. Miscellaneous brand names include Diet Coke, GoPro, and Marlboro Smooth.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Specualtion about someong doing a lot of weed. A minor character smokes a cigar. Sentimental memories attached to the smell of Marlboro Smooth cigarettes while acknowledging that cigarettes are bad. An adult has wine with dinner. Mention of a "booze cruise."

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Love & Olives is a romantic coming-of-age story, by Jenna Evans Welch. It's the author's third book in the Love & series, and none of them relate to each other as far as plot and characters go, so reading them in any order is fine. This time the setting is the Greek island of Santorini, where during the summer between her junior and senior year of high school, Liv goes to reunite with the father who abandonded her and her mother when she was 8. Coping with mental illness and how it's stigmatized is briefly explored, as is kidney disease. There's no violence but some scariness from a recurring nightmare and a panic attack while scuba diving. Lots of romantic feelings and dynamics, but only one kiss and one almost-kiss. "WTF" is used once and is the only strong language. A minor character smokes a cigar, and Liv has a sentifmental attachment to the smell of a certain brand of cigarettes. There's speculation that someone does a lot of weed. An adult has wine with dinner and a dinner cruise is mentioned as a "booze cruise."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say

There aren't any reviews yet. Be the first to review this title.

Teen, 14 years old Written byLolalili150 January 11, 2021

SO GOOD!

I really enjoyed this book! Its appropriate and doesn’t have any actual swear words (although it does say WTF once). I laughed and cried and learned so much ab... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written bydaisyrose1 August 23, 2021
I fell in love with this book, it was a nice summer read with a mix of romance and a broken father daughter relationship. The book is filled with a emotion and... Continue reading

What's the story?

LOVE & OLIVES tells the story of how, during the summer between her junior and senior year of high school, Liv gets an unexpected opportunity to visit the father who abandoned her when she was eight. Her father has returned to the Greek island of Santorini where he grew up, and says he has a project that he really needs Liv's help with. Liv arrives on Santorini still holding onto a lot of pain and anger, and no desire whatever to let go of any of it. Fortunately there's also Theo, her dad's incredibly handsome and charming assistant who makes a great buffer between father and daughter, so a lot of awkwardness is avoided while Liv continues to ignore her feelings. As the project progresses, Liv uncovers truths about her father and their life together before he left. These truths help her see herself, her family, and her future in a whole new light. 

Is it any good?

Author Jenna Evans Welch's talent for vivid descriptions of gorgeous locations steals the show in this otherwise sweet but predictable, and a bit too long, coming-of-age romance. The tone in Love & Olives is fairly light and breezy, which helps keep things going despite some flaws in the plot and characters, but also makes the ending never in doubt. Liv is a frustrating character for much of the story. She's pretty self absorbed and too sure she's right about everything, and at times it feels like it's just taking too long for her to start learning and changing.

That being said, the budding romance with Theo is pretty sigh worthy, and the box of mementos adds interest and dimension to passages where Liv revisits the past. Romance fans will enjoy it, and the ending satisfies. There's very little content of concern, but at over 500 pages it's best for strongly independent readers who can handle the theme of parental abandonment. And don't be surprised if Santorini gets added to your list of dream vacation destinations.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Love & Olives addresses mental illness and the stigma attached to it. Do you or anyone you know deal with mental illness? Do you agree with Liv's mom, that it has "nothing to do with what kind of person you are?"

  • Do you think going back and forth in time -- a frequently used plot device in modern novels -- adds tension or interest to the story? Does it play on how well you think you know characters when they're revealed in bits and pieces?

  • Romantic books, movies, TV, etc. are always popular. What do we love about them? Do they affect your expectations for romance in real life? What are some of your favorites?

Book details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love romance and stories of mental illness

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