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Book Review: Jenna Evans Welch’s “Love & Olives”

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Jefferson chapter.

If you’re looking for a new read for the summer, I have the perfect book for you! I finally started falling in love with reading again, and this book was the one to do it. I began reading Love & Olives this past summer, but with the stress of beginning my first semester of college in the fall, reading fell on the back-burner for me. However, I just finished this piece, and I need to rave about it. 

Our female lead in this story is Liv (Olive) Varanakis. When she was eight years old, her father abandoned their family to go search for Atlantis in Greece. Liv’s abandonment issues haunted her as she grew up, and this trauma left her with challenges that she faced daily. The countless questions Liv had about her father and his decision to leave came full circle when she received a postcard from him. He invited Liv to visit him in Santorini to help him and his assistant Theo with a National Geographic documentary about the discovery of Atlantis.  

When Nico Varanakis, Liv’s father, left for Greece, he also left behind twenty-six of his personal belongings that Liv has held onto. Each chapter opens up with a description of a certain item he left behind, and I found this to be a unique element that adds to the novel. The descriptions provide insight into the close relationship that Liv and her father had as she was growing up. It was an interesting addition to Liv’s story, and the belongings he left behind were odd enough that I wanted to discover the significance of each one. 

The father-daughter dynamic that we also come to see throughout the novel brought me to tears. Being able to relate to Liv and her situation, I found my heart aching at her internal monologue concerning her feelings surrounding her father. And when we finally learn about her father’s past and the decisions he made, I was a complete mess.

All of my personal questions finally getting answered as I finished this read was so fulfilling. I have such a distaste for novels that do the opposite and leave the reader with questions that cannot be answered. However, I loved that this story comes full circle in the end. I won’t spoil anything of course, but please check this book out because the ending will truly get you.

All in all, this book is definitely worth checking out. Especially if you love the atmosphere of the Mama Mia movies, you’ll adore reading about the beautiful island of Santorini. Such a summer read! Liv’s story and the love and loss that she endures make this novel a lovely addition to my bookshelf!

Jennifer Arden

Jefferson '25

Jenn is a second-year student in the Health Sciences: Pre-Nursing Program at Jefferson. She loves spending time with her friends and family, making Spotify playlists, and working towards her goals. Her passions include music, self-care, and self-love!