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  • Writer's pictureThe Bossy Bookworm

Review of The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Elif Shafak's The Island of Missing Trees explores past Turkish-Greek conflicts in a small island community while illustrating the interconnectedness of grief, love, community, and nature in this heartwarming literary fiction story.

My friend James and I were recently sharing book recommendations, and he mentioned this author and this book in particular, so I added it to the top of my to-read list.

Since her mother Defne went into a coma and never woke up, young loner Ada Kazantzakis has continued to live in London with her distracted botanist father Kostas, who has little brain space for anything but his plants.

A fig tree with its own voice and point of view--I loved that there was no explanation, just a plunge into this omniscient, sometimes prickly, often opinionated view--witnessed Kostas's young love with Defne. The fig tree shares the story of the young lovers and while exploring the conflicts between Turkish and Greek characters in the book, also emphasizes the interconnectedness of nature and of humans over the centuries through her ecologically-centered vision of life.

Ada is seeking a meaningful link to her past, meanwhile her stranger of an aunt emerges, and with her, the possibility of filling in missing pages of Ada's parents' story--and therefore Ada's own.

The fig tree offers the reader much of the material that fills in the blanks: what really occurred between Ada's parents over the years; which factors drove them apart and brought them back together; and the mysteries that swirled around pivotal moments of the past.

The ending section is lovely, with heartwarming promise, hope, resolution, and a fig-tree-related revelation that I loved.

I listened to The Island of Missing Trees as an audiobook.

Do you have any Bossy thoughts about this book?

Elif Shafak is also the author of There Are Rivers in the Sky, Three Daughters of Eve, The Forty Rules of Love, The Bastard of Istanbul, The Architect's Apprentice, and many other novels.


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