Love & Olives by Jenna Evans Welch
Growing up, Olive was inseparable from her father so when he left without warning (in her eight-year-old POV), she was devastated and confused, convinced she must’ve been the reason. Dad left behind their map of Atlantis, a possession treasured by both of them. Dad was and is a diehard believer in the myth of Atlantis. Discovering Atlantis was their shared dream. Didn’t he want the map anymore? Or was there a reason he left it behind? Is there a deeper reason for everything he left behind? Because Liv (yes, she’s going by Liv now) wants to know. She gathered everything in a shoebox and for the past ten years has wondered. Out of nowhere, Liv receives a postcard from her father who has been living in Greece. He needs her artistic eye for a documentary being filmed on his search for Atlantis. Will she come to Santorini for the summer? Um, what? She hasn’t seen, spoken, or heard from him in ten years and now he wants her to not only visit but help him?? Mom insists that she go. What follows is the story of Liv searching for Atlantis and finding herself.
So. Much. To. Love. 1) Santorini. The descriptions are off-the-charts amazing. I Googled every place mentioned and spent long minutes poring over the gorgeous pictures. There’s a scene where Liv and Theo sneak into an empty vacation home to swim in the infinity pool under the moonlight and it’s just . . . sigh. 2) Theo. Liv has a boyfriend and it’s not Theo. Theo is her father’s “protege.” He’s gifted with the camera and dreams of being a filmmaker so he’s the one filming the Atlantis documentary. To her boyfriend, Liv feels she needs to hide her true self. To Theo, she doesn’t. He really sees her, even more than she sees herself. He reflects her and she starts to like herself for maybe the first time since her dad left. 3) Bookstore. Theo’s mother owns a bookstore in one of Santorini’s infamous cave houses. It’s crammed and cozy and perfect. The best part of it is that one of the bookshelves IS A DOOR TO A SECRET BEDROOM. And it’s where Liv will be staying while she’s in Greece. And Theo will be her roommate 😍😍😍.
Love & Olives is a bit rom-com, a bit coming of age, and a bit forgiveness journey that adds up to a great read. Of the three books in Jenna Evans Welch’s Love & Gelato series, this one is the strongest by far. The experience of reading these books reminds me of my experience reading Stephanie Perkins’ Anna and the French Kiss series. Like that one, the final installment is the strongest and swooniest. I should mention that it is not necessary to read Love & Gelato nor Love & Luck to enjoy Love & Olives.