Jenna Evans Welch
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
About the book...
From the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato comes a Mamma Mia!–inspired tale about a teen girl finding romance while trying to connect with her absent father in beautiful Santorini, Greece.
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.
First things first, I've never read any of the titles from this loosely attached series, but I've always admired them. You know, it's like when you see a cover that just catches your eye for whatever reason, or read a title that makes you stop and think I wonder what THAT'S about, but just never get a chance to partake of it. Okay, well it's the curse of the avid reader/blogger...so many books we want to read, and only so much time! Anyway, so I recognized the artwork and series(ish) title when I saw the invite come through my inbox. My brain gave a slight pause and said YES! This is the moment. This is the time. This is the book we're going to introduce our selves to the series(ish) through....and so I did. The rest as they say is history, or rather the story you've stopped by to read.
Second things second...the setting couldn't have been more beautiful. The characters couldn't have been any more memorable. I really liked getting to know Liv in the now, Olive in the then, and the combination of the two she becomes by book's end. The growth she experienced, the changes she unwittingly (and at times were certainly unwanted) underwent, all made you remember that life isn't about simply the end result or getting everything we want...it's about the journey, all the missteps along the way, and being happy with what we have/are given. They say every day can be a gift, if only we're willing to live in the present...I think Olive would have to agree with that sentiment, though she'd still be unwilling to completely let go of the past as those memories, those cherished times were welcome additions to her mental memory book, even when caste in a new light. That dawning of understanding was difficult, no lie, but SO worth it in the end.
Third things third...despite all the GOOD, I did have one issue. As I previously said, overall the story was wonderful, filled with issues that were easy to relate to, growing pains that were believable, and dreams that weren't out of reach, but needed new understanding through which to view them. It all played well together. My issue was the time over which the story developed. If you're one that needs a driving plot, or characters to change, converse, or bloom at a rate faster than the average lifespan, it may be something you need to take note of before beginning. It's not a speedy trek forward, in fact if we were comparing it in romance terms, it's not even a slow burn...more a warm kindling barely burning on its own in the dark of night, and yet still able to keep the sparks alive. I don't mean that in as bare a way as it may sound, merely a nod to those expecting a steady pace...it's not there. It's more tortoise than hare, but in the end, it gets us exactly where we and Olive (and a slew of other warm hearts!) need to be, and isn't that the real purpose?
So, in closing, seeing as I've now written my own mini story and probably lost a few of you along the way, it may not be and edge of your seat, take no prisoners, break neck speed of a tale, but it's not a story to be missed. For all the heart, all the love, all the self-discovery that takes place, not to mention the gorgeous (yet annoying!) company she keeps, and the uber fab bookstore (with hidden bunks!), this is one to keep on your radar, indulge in, and perhaps share with those you hold dear.
About the author...
Photograph © 2016 by Maggie Herbst/Echo Photography
Jenna Evans Welch was the kind of insatiable child reader who had no choice but to grow up to become a writer. She is the New York Times bestselling author of Love & Gelato, Love & Luck, and Love & Olives. When she isn’t writing girl abroad stories, Jenna can be found chasing her children or making elaborate messes in the kitchen. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah, with her husband and two young children. Visit her online at JennaEvansWelch.com.
Special thanks to Jenny at Simon & Schuster for the ARC for review. (THANKS!) For more information on this title, the author, or the publisher, feel free to click through the links provided above. This title is newly available this month, so click on over to your favorite online retailer or visit your local brick and mortar to snag your copy for gift giving, or your own reading, today!
Until next time, remember...if it looks good, READ IT!