“Always aim for the kind of love that comes from the deep.”
Genre: Fiction // coming of age
Published: 5th August 2021
Rate: 4 stars
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.
Third book I read by Elif Shafak and I am convinced that she can do wrong. I may be biased because I love her so much though. The Island of Missing Trees is set during the civil war in Cyprus in 1974. I love(d) the lyrical writing which made the book flow easily and quickly. I loved the short chapters too! We have a story with a dual narration, the past and present, and how they tie in all together. One of the most interesting things in this book is the fact that we have a Fig tree telling part of the story. I found myself loving these parts more.
The Island of Missing Trees is such a moving book. Atmospheric all through with such stunning, vivid descriptions. From the characters to the setting, I felt everything, in one way or another. Elif Shafak tackles different difficult issues throughout the book – the reality of war and mental health being prominent – and she does it so well with care and tenderness.
“Most arboreal suffering is caused by humankind.”
The Island of Missing Trees has a very strong sense of place. I love how the two countries were both characters in the book. The Fig tree too! Elif Shafak managed to give an innate object life, character and a distinct personality! I was in awe. The human characters were well written though I didn’t see any character development which was a let down.
All in all I did enjoy reading The Island of Missing Trees. A coming of age story that I found both heartwarming and heartbreaking in equal measure and I do recommend it if you haven’t read it yet.
Have you read this book? What did you think about it?