Love & Olives
Jenna Evans Welch
Published November 10, 2020
About Love & Olives
Liv Varanakis doesn’t have a lot of fond memories of her father, which makes sense—he fled to Greece when she was only eight. What Liv does remember, though, is their shared love for Greek myths and the lost city of Atlantis. So when Liv suddenly receives a postcard from her father explaining that National Geographic is funding a documentary about his theories on Atlantis—and will she fly out to Greece and help?—Liv jumps at the opportunity.
But when she arrives to gorgeous Santorini, things are a little…awkward. There are so many questions, so many emotions that flood to the surface after seeing her father for the first time in years. And yet Liv doesn’t want their past to get in the way of a possible reconciliation. She also definitely doesn’t want Theo—her father’s charismatic so-called “protégé”—to witness her struggle.
And that means diving into all that Santorini has to offer—the beautiful sunsets, the turquoise water, the hidden caves, and the delicious cuisine. But not everything on the Greek island is as perfect as it seems. Because as Liv slowly begins to discover, her father may not have invited her to Greece for Atlantis, but for something much more important.
I have some mixed feelings about this book, but I liked a lot of things. First, the stuff that I loved.
The setting is gorgeous. LOVE & OLIVES made me feel like I was in Santorini enjoying the outdoors and the sea and excited about hunting down rumors of Atlantis. I loved a lot of things about Liv. She’s smart and artistic, and I couldn’t help feeling for her as she faced this unexpected trip to reunite with her estranged father. I liked Liv’s mom, too. She’s sharp and I felt like she tried really hard to walk that balance between interfering when necessary and letting Liv make her own life choices.
I really struggled with Liv’s feelings and relationship with her dad. I feel like I’ve been burned by that kind of visionary, head-in-the-clouds type of person before. He just seemed like he might flake out on her any second. It was hard not to worry that Liv was going to end up hurt again. Sometimes that made me angry.
I also had a hard time with Theo. I really didn’t like that he filmed her without her permission and ignored her when she asked him to stop. There were reasons in the story that made it a “good thing” that he had that footage, that’s still not okay. I don’t like stories where the guy overrides a girl’s no because he “knows better” than she does or knows her better than she knows herself, etc. I think it’s a dangerous behavior to idealize because it romanticizes someone who ultimately isn’t respecting a point-blank refusal.
That aside, I did like that Theo asked her thought-provoking questions. He also acted as a buffer between Liv and her dad. He did eventually grow to trust and respect Liv’s boundaries.
Her relationship with her dad went some places I wasn’t expecting. I still had a hard time because I worried that somehow he wouldn’t be accountable for the hurt he’d caused. I think the way the story explored the reasons why he disappeared and why he’d wanted to be a part of Liv’s life again were ultimately satisfying. It just took me a long time to warm to him.
Altogether, this book feels like a sweet summer romance, with a beautiful setting guaranteed to make you feel like you’re escaping reality. Ultimately I’m glad I read it. I think fans of Jennifer E. Smith will enjoy the romance of this story.
Content Notes for Love and Olives
Recommended for Ages 12 up.
Liv and her father are Greek. So is Theo.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
A couple instances of mild profanity.
Kissing between boy and girl.
Note: I received a free copy of LOVE & OLIVES in exchange for my honest review. This post contains affiliate links, which do not cost you anything to use, but which help support the costs of running this blog.