Book review: Olive by Emma Gannon
This book review contains spoilers, but I have written SPOILERS STARTING so you can avoid them.
Olive is Emma Gannon’s debut novel. The book feels a little like a fictive version of Dolly Alderton’s Everything I Know About Love (which I loved) and takes us on a journey through London and a young woman’s life.
The young woman is Olive; a pop culture journalist who finds herself outside the expectations from society as well as the life development of her friends. She does not want children, whilst that is what everyone around her seem to want to talk about. She feels a bit left out and start to wonder if she has to do what society says to remain close with her friends, with the possibility of losing herself.
The book discovers the possibilities and challenges that comes with not living a life according to “the norm” and invites us to see different perspectives with the help of Olive and her friends.
It is a great contemporary story of how it is to be a young woman. It is about friendship and about support. I think support is the key bit in this novel. It made me think of how I am as a friend, partner, daughter, and human being.
I also loved the bits in between chapters where the author included quotes about child free lives. There were funny, wise, and cute.
My favourite characters were Dorothy, and Jacob.
SPOILER STARTING (and continues until it says SPOILER FINISHED)
The chapter where she is meeting up with Jacob got to me in a way I was not prepared for. It was brutal, and honest, and brilliant. I cried so much.
The only thing I would have liked to see more of was character development. Olive found her way in life, and her own way to love and care for a “family”, but I wish I could see more of the same from her friends. Poor Isla was bitter the whole time, and it didn’t feel like she actually accepted anyone’s apology nor reflected on her own issues at all. I wanted to see why Cecily was so in love with her dick husband, and I wanted to see more of Bea who definitely could have been one of my favourite characters.
Instead, the book focused, in my opinion, a bit too much on trending topics. There is this bit about a cab driver talking about gender and basically that boys should be boys and girls should be girls. I would have been ALL FOR that if the characters then would have discussed this. Instead, the characters in the cab basically called him a dick and got on with it. The topic was raised and killed again. It didn’t feel like it had a purpose except for the topic being included.
Overall, a lovely read with some lovely characters and unexpected moments. I also love any book that takes me through London so that I can feel at home. It is such a nice feeling recognising places and the sensations that come with them.