416 pages ~ ★★★★☆ ~ Netgalley eARC
Olive was one of my most anticipated releases of 2020; author Emma Gannon host podcast Ctrl, Alt Delete and has written other non-fiction books which I’m a fan of so her first foray into the world of fiction had me very excited. I’m sure you can imagine the little happy dance I did when the Netgalley approval came through and I was going to get to read it slightly early, especially as the launch of this has been pushed back a month due to COVID.
We follow a group of four friends, introduced to them as they’re leaving their shared university house the majority of the book is set when the women are in their early thirties. For everything these best friends share they all have different opinions and experiences around motherhood. Which becomes on of the main themes of the book, exploring not just their own thoughts and opinions but the opinions society has about them because of their opinions towards motherhood. It addresses head on the societal expectation that every woman wants a child and those without are just waiting to meet the right person or for that maternal instinct to kick in.
Olive is an ambitious, hard working woman who has been with boyfriend Jacob for nearly ten years, all their friends expected them to be next to start a family so when they break up she struggles to find the right moment to let her friends know. It doesn’t feel like the kind of news she can text and when they meet up in person something always gets in the way of Olive breaking the news. This paired with Olive coming to terms with her own decision not to have children starts to be a strain on their usually, very strong bond.
For me this took a quite stereotypical opening set up of a woman dedicated to her career who’s just experienced a relationship breakup but did something completely different with it than you might expect from more traditional chick-lit.
I’d really recommend this book – its a topic that gets you thinking about how much you know of what’s going on in other people’s lives. As someone in their late twenties who got married last year I’ve had several comments about children and while its something we do want I have often thought that the people saying these things don’t actually know our situation, for all they know we may not want children or even be able to have them.
I had one super small gripe with this and its probably just me but the number of times people used each others names or shortened versions of their names in conversation felt little jarring. I don’t think I’ve noticed this before when reading so not sure why this jumped out at me here but in real life when I’m talking one on one to somebody I rarely use their name unless their attention is wandering or I’m angry.
This didn’t disappoint, its made me think a lot and I think I’ll revisit it via audiobook at somepoint.
Olive is being released on the 23rd July, you can pre-order now. Thank you to Netgalley and the publishers for providing me with a copy this in exchange for an honest review.