Author: Elif Shafak
Genre: General Fiction
Publication Date: November 2, 2021
Book Description: Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. In the taverna, hidden beneath garlands of garlic, chili peppers and creeping honeysuckle, Kostas and Defne grow in their forbidden love for each other. A fig tree stretches through a cavity in the roof, and this tree bears witness to their hushed, happy meetings and eventually, to their silent, surreptitious departures. The tree is there when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, and when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns. He is a botanist looking for native species, but really, he’s searching for lost love.
Years later a Ficus carica grows in the back garden of a house in London where Ada Kazantzakis lives. This tree is her only connection to an island she has never visited— her only connection to her family’s troubled history and her complex identity as she seeks to untangle years of secrets to find her place in the world.
A moving, beautifully written, and delicately constructed story of love, division, transcendence, history, and eco-consciousness, The Island of Missing Trees is Elif Shafak’s best work yet.
Rating: 4 Stars
Review: Kostas who is Greek and Defne who is Turkish meet in Cypress and fall in love at a time when their relationship was not condoned and Cypress is on the verge of war. Later on we meet Ada their daughter who is struggling with death of Defne and just being a teenager in general.
This book told in alternate timelines tells a complex story of love, loss, war, addiction and identity to name a few. The writing is simply beautiful and I felt like I wanted to know this family and their struggles just a little more.
Note…this book did start a little slow for me, but I am personally glad I stuck with this one, because it was just one of the most beautiful stories I have read in a while. What happened in Cypress in the 1970’s is not something you read often about, so I was happy to read something a little more unique. Savor this one, it is sure to linger in the back of your mind a little longer than your typical story.
Thank you NetGalley and Bloomsbury for an Advanced Reader’s Copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.