Olive by Emma Gannon: ARC Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

Olive by Emma Gannon

Expected Publication March 9th, 2021 by Andrews McNeel Publishing.

My rating:

The debut novel about the life-changing choices we make about careers, love, friendship, and motherhood from bestselling UK author Emma Gannon.

Olive is many things. Independent. Driven. Loyal. And a little bit adrift.

She’s okay with still figuring it all out, navigating her world without a compass. But life comes with expectations and big choices to be made. So when her best friends’ lives branch away towards marriage and motherhood, leaving the path they’ve always followed together, she starts to question her choices—because life according to Olive looks a little bit different.

Moving, memorable, and a mirror for anyone at a crossroads, OLIVE has a little bit of all of us. Told with humor and great warmth, this is a modern tale about the obstacle course of adulthood and the challenges of having—and deciding not to have—children.

Thank you to the publisher, Andrews McMeel Publishing, and NetGalley for providing me with an e-ARC of this book. All thoughts are my own.

Olive and her three best friends have always done everything together. So, in her thirties, when all her friends are married with children (or at least trying for them), Olive can’t help feel like she’s being left behind. While her friends are preoccupied with managing their households, scheduling playdates, and the daunting process of IVF, Olive feels as though she lacks those maternal urges all her friends have.

After breaking up with her boyfriend of many years for that exact reason, Olive feels even more adrift than ever. And each other’s judgment over their different life choices has caused a rift between her once inseparable group of friends. So, when Olive is tasked with looking into the reasons why some young women choose to be child-free for an article at work, she can’t help but see herself in them, and is forced to reconcile the different path her life has taken compared to her friends’.

I think Olive is a really great book for any young woman in her twenties or early thirties to read. Between the variety of different personalities and life choices showcased through each one of the quartet of friends at the center of this story – Olive, Bea, Isla, and Cecily, that is – any woman reading this book could find someone to relate to. And whether you relate to them or not, it’s easy to empathize with each and every one of them, as Gannon demonstrates skill in crafting realistic, rounded characters with complexity that mirrors real life. Each woman is experiencing her own form of growing pains as she tries to figure out her role in life.

Above all, Olive is a story about loving and accepting who you are and your own journey, no matter what it looks like, or how it compares to others.

I think the concept behind this book was a really great one, because I’ve never read a story from the perspective of a woman who was child-free by choice, and that in itself is shocking. I found it really refreshing to follow Olive as she navigated her thoughts and feelings around having children and reconciling her own wants with the pressures she felt from society and her friends (unintentionally).

The only aspects that kept me from rating this book higher were that everything just seemed to resolve itself in the end without too much effort on the part of the protagonist. The last bit of the book felt a little rushed, and like things were happening without a lot of precedence compared to the beginning of the book. And, like a few things were simply thrown in randomly near the end to amp up the drama, but weren’t elaborated on in enough detail to satisfy compared to the rest of the story.

Nevertheless, this was a really sweet, heartfelt novel that I think many women would enjoy. It gave me similar vibes to other stories written by Sophie Kinsella, Sophie Cousens and Josie Silver.

Have you read Olive?

What did you think of it?

Let me know!

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