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ARC Book Review: The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Title: The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois

Author: Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

Publisher: 4thestate

Length: 790 pages

Synopsis: The great scholar, W. E. B. Du Bois, once wrote about the problem of race in America, and what he called ‘double consciousness’, a sensitivity that very African American possesses in order to survive. Since childhood, Ailey Pearl Garfield has understood Du Bois’s words all too well. Ailey grows up in the North, in the City, but spends summers in the small Georgia town of Chicasetta, where her mother’s family has lived since their ancestors arrived from Africa in bondage. From an early age, Ailey fights a battle for belonging that’s made all the more difficult by hovering trauma, as well as the whispers of women – her mother, Belle, her sister, Lydia, and a maternal line reaching back two centuries – that urge her to succeed in their stead. To come to terms with her own identity, Ailey embarks on a journey through her family’s past, uncovering the shocking tales of generations of ancestors – Indigenous, Black, and White – in the Deep South. In doing so, she must learn to embrace her full heritage, a legacy of oppression and resistance, bondage and independence, cruelty and resilience that is the story – and the song – of America itself.

You know, I’ve seen people call this book a masterpiece and I can only say it’s hard to disagree. In fact I don’t disagree at all. From the very first pages of the book you just know you’re reading something special.


The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois was a novel that I didn’t know had hold of my heart until I realised I couldn’t stop thinking about it, till I was telling people who I work with (who don’t read) all about it, till I couldn’t put it down. I’ve never read a novel this size that quickly.

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers has crafted characters in this book that I know I’ll remember forever. Lydia and Ailey are truly unforgettable. To read about their lives from infancy to adulthood you just take the characters into your heart. They’re real, complex, damaged, vulnerable, loveable and you want them to succeed. Ailey’s character arc was maybe my favourite thing about the book. The way Lydia’s story came to an end had me crying.


The complexity of the novel and the way the timelines are formed are what truly make this book feel epic. It is epic. It’s a tough read at times, in the sense that deals with incredibly difficult things, but it’s also full of joy, love. Also for a book that spans such a vast amount of time, from before the civil war to present day and to have it feel so intimate is a sign of Honorée immeasurable talent.

I think we’re going to see this book around a lot this year. I can only assume it’s going to be nominated for a lot of book prizes and it deserves every single of them.


No review I can write will do this book justice, you’ll know what I mean when you read it. It’s immersive and one of the finest books to come out of America in a long time. Just do yourself a favour and read this book. You won’t regret it.

Thank you so much to 4thestate for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out today.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, fiction, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, literary ficton, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, yafantasy

Top 10 Books of 2021

The year has come to an end and it’s time for the obligatory blog post about the best books of the year.

So I read 100 books this year, which was my goal and I just managed to complete it at the end of the year. I literally finished it two days before the end.

I read so many fantastic books this year. These are the ones that have stuck with me. They are the ones I couldn’t stop talking about, thinking about and couldn’t stop recommending!

So let’s talk about them shall we?

1) Still Life by Sarah Winman. Boy oh boy did I absolutely love this book. I adored it. It’s full of love, it’s full of joy. And it left my heart so full. In a tough year it was exactly what I needed from a book. And it’s written beautifully. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. If you’d like to read my whole review click here.

2) Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. I loved All The Light We Cannot See and was eagerly anticipating this book and it didn’t disappoint. I couldn’t put this book down. I had to know what was going to happen. It was historical fiction, it was sci-if and it was surprisingly heartfelt. Just fantastic. Thanks again to the publishers for my copy.

3) Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram. I know so many people love this book and I can say it surpassed all my expectations. It’s so beautifully and delicately written, with some of the best YA characters I’ve read. I can’t wait to read the sequel but I’m saving it for something special. Truly a remarkable queer book.

4) Realm Breaker by Victoria Aveyard. I didn’t think there would be a fantasy book in this list but I’m always up for a surprise. I just thought this multi perspective book was brilliant. It was filled with cliffhangers, action, brilliant characters and great world building! I’m eagerly anticipating the sequel. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. You can check out my full review here.

5) The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun. I didn’t think there would a romance book either but this book completely stole my heart. It has some fantastic mental health rep, it’s hot and sexy and it’s romantic! And it’s a lot of fun. Sometimes you just need a fun book!

6) The Love Songs of W. E. B. Du Bois by Honorée Fanonne Jeffers. The most recent addition to the list. A story that spans a century yet feels so intimate. It’s really beautiful. And the characters are phenomenal. You become so invested in their lives. It’s just so brilliant! Thanks to the publishers for my copy.

7) The Antarctica of Love by Sara Stridsberg (translated by …..). This novel took me completely by surprise. Unlike anything I’ve ever read. So brutal but so heartfelt. I definitely shed a few tears over this one. The writing is so lyrical. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. You can check out my full review here.

8) The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. This really is a stunning novel. It just somehow works in the even with everything going on. It’s really down to Elifs phenomenal writing. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. You can check out my full review here.

9) In The Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. This queer memoir is a work of art. It’s harrowing and beautiful. I want everyone to read this book so desperately. It’s really something special. I won’t forget this bike for a long time. Thanks to the publishers for my copy.

So that’s it! My top books of the year. I loved all these books so much! Have you read any? Or do you plan to? Let me know!

Until the next review…

Jthbooks

author, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, fantasy, fiction, gay, lgbt, literary ficton, queer, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

Anticipated Queer Books for 2022 – Part 1

It’s that time of year again. We’ve entered the new year and that means we’ve got a whole selection of new queer books coming out this year and I thought I’d share some I’m really looking forward to.

If there’s one thing you’re going to learn from this list is that queer books have some seriously stunning covers! Just wait and see!

So let’s talk about some brilliant queer books shall we?

Here Again Now by Okechukwu Nzelu. Am I lucky enough to have a proof copy of this? Yes. Do I have it preordered? Yes. I loved Okechukwu’s first book and I can’t wait read this new queer book. This is going to be my first read of 2022. That’s how much I’m looking forward to it. It’s out March 10th.

Only on the Weekends by Dean Atta. I absolutely loved The Black Flamingo, I think it’s one of the best books, and I’m eagerly awaiting the publication of this book. Its written in verse once again. I seriously can’t wait. It’s out May 12th.

Young Mungo by Douglas Stuart. I have such a high hopes for this. I loved Shuggie Bain and I have a feeling this one is going to be even better! Have you seen that final UK cover? Stunning. This one is out April 14th.

Flip the Script by Layla Lee. A queer Korean book all about Korean Dramas. Do I need to say anymore to you really? That should literally be enough for you! I can’t wait to read this sapphic book! Once again the cover is stunning! Now I’ve seen on somethings it’s out January 1st, but I’ve preordered from Blackwells and it’s says June 1st. So that when I’ll be receiving mine.

Bolla by Pajtim Statovic. Again, I have high hopes for this. It’s a queer historical fiction that I’ve been lucky enough to be sent a copy of. I feel like this one might be under the radar a little bit so make sure to check this one out. It’s out in April!

Our Wives Under The Sea by Julia Armsfield. Incredibly excited for this one. I’ve heard it’s gothic and sapphic and I know that peaked your interest hasn’t it? Its out March 3rd.

Vagabonds by Eloghosa Osunde. Queer stories all set in Nigeria. I’ve been wanting to read more books set in Nigeria and this one sounds perfect for me. It’s been described as ‘spectacular’ by Akwaeke Emezi and that’s enough for me. It’s out March 31st.

The Secret Sunshine Project by Benjamin Dean. I loved this authors first book and I’m so excited for the second. These queer middle grade books are so important and very excited for this one! It’s out March 31st.

I’m going to add Lavender House by L. C. Rosen. Now I don’t know much about this one. There isn’t a cover for this one. But I will read whatever Rosen writes. You all know how much I love Camp. It’s out October 18th!

This is a very small list I know. There’s many more queer books coming out, some I don’t even know about yet. These are just some I simply can’t wait to read.

If there’s any you think I’d love let me know.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fantasy, #fiction, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, bookstagram, fantasy, fiction, historical fiction, literary ficton, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

November Wrap Up

November, a month where I’d finished all my proof copies for the year and I could read some of the books I bought and I definitely did. I did sneak in one proof of next year because I was desperate to read it.

I only managed seven books this month. Probably my lowest of the year. I’m not sure why really. I was loving everything I read. Very strange.

So let’s talk about the books shall we?

First up was The Transgender Issue by Shon Faye. I think everyone should read this book. It highlights, I’m well researched detail, of the attacks on trans lives and how we can be better ally’s. Just absolutely brilliant. It’s out now

Then I read Real Life by Brandon Taylor. I have a feeling my expectations were a little to high for this one. I just didn’t fully connect with it for some reason, I love what it had to say in places. It’s by no means a bad book at all, the opposite but for me, there was just something missing. It’s out now.

Up next was If This Gets Out by Sophie Gonzales and Cale Dietrich. I really enjoyed this sweet love young adult love story. I would happily read a lot more books with these characters in. I was totally swept up, couldn’t ask for more. Well I can, I want more books. Thanks to the publishers for my copy of this book. It’s out January 6th.

Fourth this month I read XOXO by Axie Oh. I loved every page of this book. I loved the romance, I loved that it was set in Korea. I loved that they were idols. I just loved it all. Seriously loved it. I want to read more books like this. It’s out now.

Up next was A Dutiful Boy by Moshin Zaidi. A really beautiful, emotional nonfiction book about losing apart of yourself to find another. I have to say I did shed a few tears by the end of it. This one is out now.

Then I read The Charm Offensive by Alison Cochrun. I didn’t expect to love this book so much, but I absolutely did. There wasn’t anything I didn’t like about it. I’ll probably spend a lot of time rereading this book. I absolutely loved it. It’s out now.

Lastly I read Tin Man by Sarah Winman. My goodness what a book. It’s a short book, but it really does pack punch. I think Sarah is one of the most gifted writers of our time. I loved it. I absolutely loved it. It’s out now.

So that’s it for this month, not so many books this month but there was some I really truly loved. And that makes it worth while.

Have you read any of these? Let me know

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fiction, #literature, #memoir, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, fiction, gay, literary ficton, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya

October Wrap Up

Another month come and gone and October was a strange reading month for me. Some of the books I absolutely loved, some I hated and some I felt let me down a little.

I only managed to read seven books, it felt like more and I was a little shocked at that number.

So let’s talk about the books shall we?

First up was Cloud Cuckoo Land by Anthony Doerr. Loved this. Absolutely loved it. It’s definitely one of favourites of the year. It’s so imaginative and immersive. I adored how the story connected and it’s just pure bliss. Thank you so much to the publishers for my copy.

Then I read The Skin of the Sea by Natasha Bowen. A brilliant and original fantasy book, which is part of a new series that I absolutely loved. Full of fantastic characters and African mythology. I adored it. And who doesn’t love mermaids? Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now. You can check out my full review here.

Thirdly I read The Selfless Act of Breathing by JJ Bola. This a book that slowly creeps up on you, and it definitely has left me thinking about this book long after I finished it. But I’m also left with the feeling that something was missing. It was times incredibly powerful. Thanks so much to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Next up I read The Madness of Grief by The Reverend Richard Coles. A really heartbreaking memoir, that I did at times feel could’ve gone a little deeper. I maybe needed a little more, but it definitely had me emotional at times. You can pick this one up now.

Up next I read The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. I had such high hopes for this book, but I ultimately didn’t like it. At all. It took me such a long time to read and I found myself not caring at all. This one is out now.

Sixth up I read Hamnet by Maggie O’Farrell. Beautifully written, with such heart and heartbreak. Did I feel it was a little too long? Yes. But in the middle of the book, when Maggie is writing about grief, it doesn’t get better. It just doesn’t. This one is out now.

Lastly I read Before the coffee gets cold by Toshikazu Rawaguchi. This book is a little bit of magic. It can’t be denied. There is something really beautiful about this, without it ever going to far. I adored it. The more I think about it, the more I love it. This one is out now.

So that’s it for me this month. Have you read any of these? Let me know.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, fiction, literary ficton, review, Uncategorised, ya

ARC Book Review: The Antarctica of Love by Sara Stridsberg.

Title: The Antarctica of Love

Author: Sara Stridsberg (translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner)

Publisher: MacLehose Press

Length: 272 pages

Synopsis: Inni is a rebellious teenager, a volatile young woman, a drug user, a sex worker, an unstable mother… she loves her life on the margins, but it is a life that is full, complex, filled with different shades of dark and light. Until it is brutally ended one summer’s day, on a lake shore at the heart of a distant, rain-washed forest. But Inni’s story doesn’t end with her murder. We sit with her as she watches her children, parents and friends living on in the world without her, hoping, as time passes, that they will still remember her.

I read the synopsis of The Antarctica of Love and just thought it sounded so interesting and intriguing, so I was very lucky when MacLehose Press sent me an early copy.

The Antarctica of Love is beautifully written. I really mean it. It’s gorgeous. It’s so beautifully written that it almost feels ethereal even though it deals with such a horrible subject matter. There were points on this book that the writing is so beautiful and Sara Stridsberg took the novel to places I didn’t expect it to go, that it made me cry.

The novel begins with Inni being murdered and it is so impactful. It is absolutely brutal at times, but Sara has some struck the perfect balance between the hard hitting acts of violence committed against Inni, and the tangible vulnerability of human connection. I’m not sure I’ve ever read a book that is so full of tenderness yet packs a real punch. It’s brilliant. Absolutely brilliant.

You can’t help but feel for Inni, as you learn about how life and how it lead to the point of her murder. And I loved Sara’s choice to make the reader experience Inni looking back on her life after her depth and then to see all other characters she’d left behind. It was unlike anything I’ve ever read before, as was this book.

It amazes me how Sara has packed so much depth in the story, in the characters and their connections. It’s one of my favourite things about this exquisite novel. There is so much to unpack. It deals with loss, death, addiction, grief and love.

There is such a sense of sadness and heartbreak about this novel but it’s never overwhelming as it’s also full of love. And Sara’s writing elevates the book to even higher heights. It’s the kind of book you tell your friends about at work because you can’t stop thinking about it and you want them to read it too. It’s that good.

It has also been beautifully translated by Deborah Bragan-Turner.

I was wonderfully surprised at how much I loved The Antarctica of Love. There is no doubt it’s ine of my favourite reads of the year. I hope it’ll be nominated for the international Booker prize next year as it fully deserves to be. It’s book I won’t forget for a long time and I don’t think you will either.

Thank you so much to Katya and MacLehose Press for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 30th.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

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ARC Book Review: Magpie by Elizabeth Day

Title: Magpie

Author: Elizabeth Day

Publisher: 4thestate

Length: 336 pages

Synopsis: Marisa may have only known Jake a few months, but she has never felt this certain about anyone. When he asks her tk move in with him and they start trying for a baby, she knows she has finally found the steadfast love and support she has been looking for all her life. But their relationship is tested when they take in a lodger, Kate, who has little regard for personal boundaries and seems to take an uncomfortable interest in Jake – as well as the baby they are hoping to have. Why is Kate so obsessed with the couple? And, more worryingly, why doesn’t Jake share Marisa’s concern? In her determination to find the answers, Marisa risks losing everything she holds dear…

Magpie feels like a tale of two halves, which in this case isn’t a bad thing, the first half feels taut with suspense and wonder, while the second half is an exploration on motherhood, love and forgiveness. Day manages to keep the novel cohesive with a plot twist that moves the story to another level of excellence.

Now, let’s talk about the plot twist. I had my ideas of what I thought would happen, and I was desperately trying to guess and I got it wrong! I didn’t see it coming and I was really shocked! I love it when an author pulls off a good plot twist and Elizabeth does just that!

Also the characters were fantastic in this book. I couldn’t help but like Kate. I literally said to myself while reading it that I really like Kate. I liked Marisa too and Jake. For a thriller like this to work you have to have believable, likeable characters and Elizabeth Day has done just that.

This is hard to explain without giving any spoilers and I really don’t want to do that, but I love how Elizabeth has connected they story before and after the plot twist. It really made it cohesive and was such a smart decision. It really makes the novel feel whole. Magpie really shows Elizabeth’s talent as writer as she handles both the psychological thriller and the emotional moments phenomenally. And it gives the story and every character such depth.

It is a book that deals with mental illness and I was grateful that it wasn’t exploited. Marisa wasn’t made into a villain, or made to be evil. Things that happen (without spoilers) are the consequences of her actions and intentions that were good. I think it’s balanced really well. And let’s be honest we all know who the real villain of this book is. You’ll know who when you read it!

Magpie is a fast-paced, thrilling, emotional read that will keep its reading guessing, wanting to know more and is one of the best thrillers I’ve read. It really is a book you won’t be able to forget for a long time.

Thanks so much to Liv at 4thestate for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out September 2nd

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#contemporary, #fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, historical fiction, literary ficton, review, Uncategorised, ya

Arc Book Review: Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson

Title: Damnation Spring

Author: Ash Davidson

Publisher: Tinderpress

Length: 442 pages

Synopsis: For generations, Rich Gundersen’s family has made a living felling giant redwoods on California’s rugged coast. It’s treacherous work, and though his son Chub wants nothing more than to set into his father’s boots, Rich longs for a bigger future for him. Colleen just wants a brother or sister for Chub, but she’s losing hope. There’s so much that she and Rich don’t talk about these days – including her suspicion that there is something very wrong at the heart of the forest in which their community is built. When Rich is offered the opportunity to buy a plot of timber which borders Damnation Grove, he leaps at the chance – without telling Colleen. Soon the Gundersens find themselves on opposite sides of a battle that threatens to rip their town apart. Can’t they find a way to emerge from this together?

This a strange book for me to review as I went through so many stages of what I felt about this book. At times I thought it was average, at times wonderful, then totally captured by the story and then let down.

I’ll start with the positives, the characters in this are quite incredible. From the very first pages they felt so real. I just felt like I knew them, like I was reading about real people. I think the best character in the book was Colleen. I think Ash Davidson really captured what she was going through incredibly well, it was so moving and heartbreaking. Ash Davidson really can write characters.

This book also tackles some hard-hitting points, such as deforestation, the taking of Native American land and the poisonous spray the used to help with the deforestation. It felt like this book was going to make some really powerful points. The first three quarters of the novel felt like a social commentary of the time this book was set and how everyone felt about the changes happening and it was really interesting.

It wasn’t till about 75% into the book that I realised how attached how had become to the story and the characters when Colleen went against the town people to fight against the poison and the story felt tense and taught. I thought the story was going to go down that route but I was wrong. Then when an incident happened with Chub, the son of the two main characters, I found myself quite emotional and then I thought this book was excellent.

However, then after the incident with Chub, another incident with his father happened and it felt like the whole novel changed course. The two shocking incidents almost cancelled each other out and totally lost their impact. It felt the author just went for shock factor. I couldn’t help but feel let down. The more I thought about it the more it just ruined the story for me.

When these incidences happened, everything else got forgotten about. The poisonous spray, the deforestation, the towns people, the Native American protesting deforestation and conflict between them just never got resolved or even mentioned again. It was strange and slightly jarring. It felt like this meticulously detailed novel and the build up was for nothing.

So when I take all this into consideration Damnation Spring can only come out as an average read for me. I think the thing I’ll remember it for is the disappointing ending and such much promise gone to waste.

Thank you to the publishers for my copy of this book in return for an honest, unbiased review. It’s out August 3rd.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, fiction, gay, historical fiction, lgbt, literary ficton, queer, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

July Wrap Up

Another month has come and gone. And I had a reading month that was very varied. Some of these books will potentially be in my favourites at the end of the year. Some I found disappointing. Read below to find our which ones I loved.

I only managed 8 books this month, mainly because one of the ones I didn’t enjoy to me forever to get through. I hoping to read more for the month of August because so many books are on my tbr!

So let’s talk about these books shall we?

First up was She Who Became The Sun by Shelly Parker-Chan. This was one of my most anticipated releases for the year, but unfortunately it let me down. I started this June 26th and it took me so long to read it mainly because I just couldn’t get into it. There was some beautiful writing and I liked what it had to say about gender, but the rest didn’t do it for me. At all. I found the story especially in the beginning and middle dragged for me. The ending was definitely better than the beginning I will say that. But I definitely seem to be in the minority with this one, as lots of other people seem to love it. Thank you to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Then I read Meet Me In Another Life by Catriona Silvey. I did enjoy this one, but I just think it could’ve been better. We don’t say this very often but I think this book could’ve benefited from being longer. I felt the ending was a bit rushed and we needed more detail into what was actually happening. But overall I did enjoy this book. I loved the connections between the stories and how the plot unraveled. It just needed a better ending. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Thirdly I read Conversations on Love by Natasha Lunn. This features many different authors that Natasha has interviews and it’s a truly wonderful book. It’s moving, heartwarming and helpful. And being nearly thirty and single I needed reminding that it’s ok. I really recommend this book. So many interesting perspectives on love, loss and everything in between. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now.

Up next I read The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak. Hands down one of my favourite books of the year. It’s so beautifully written, so clever and engaging. It has so much packed into, yet I was left with a smile on my face when I finished it. I absolutely loved it. Will definitely be in my top 10 books of the year. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out August 5th. You can check out my full review here.

Then I read This Is My Truth by Yasmin Rahman. This is a really hard hitting young adult book that features some really difficult subject matter. It can be hard to read at times, but it was still brilliant. Full of great characters and wonderful friendships, it was hard to put down. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out now. You can check out my full review here.

Sixth this month I read Crying In H Mart by Michelle Zauber. This is a truly special memoir. It’s filled with food that you’ll want to eat and relationship between a Mother and Daughter that’ll break your heart. It details loss and grief in a nuanced and powerful way. It really made me emotional in places. I can’t recommend this one enough. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out August 5th.

Up next I read Damnation Spring by Ash Davidson. This one started with such promise but ultimately I was let down by the ending. It felt like the author threw away the detailed for 3/4 of this move for a shock factor ending. It was so disappointing. It did have fantastic characters though, that I won’t forget. Lots of potential in this book that unfortunately wasn’t fulfilled. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out August 3rd.

Eight this month I read The Magician by Colm Tóibín. This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and for it fell totally flat. It was so disappointing. I was missing feeling anything towards the characters. I felt absolutely nothing for them. I was just incredibly uninterested in the whole book. Thanks to the publishers for my copy. It’s out September 23rd.

So that’s it! That was my reading month.

Are you planning on reading any of these? Or have you read any? Let me know.

Until the next review

Jthbooks

#fiction, #literature, author, blog, book blog, book blogger, book bloggers, book review, books, fiction, lgbt, literary ficton, review, Uncategorised, ya, young adult

ARC Book Review: The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

Title: The Island of Missing Trees

Author: Elif Shafak

Publisher: Viking Books Penguin Random House

Length: 343 pages

Synopsis: Two teenagers, a Greek Cypriot and a Turkish Cypriot, meet at a taverna on the island they both call home. The taverna is the only place that Kostas and Defne can meet in secret, hidden beneath the blackened beams from which hang garlands of garlic and chilli peppers, creeping honeysuckle, and in the centre, growing through a cavity in the floor, a fig tree. The fig tree witnesses their hushed, happy meetings; their silent, surreptitious departures. The fig tree is there, too, when war breaks out, when the capital is reduced to ashes and rubble, when the teenagers vanish. Decades later, Kostas returns – a botanist, looking for native species- looking really, for Defne. The two lovers return to the taverna to take a clipping from the fig tree and smuggle it into their suitcase, bound for London. Years later, the fig tree in the garden is their daughter Ada’s only knowledge of a home she had never visited, as she seeks to untangle years of secrets and silence, and find her place in the world.

I need to start by saying that this book was one of my most highly anticipated books of the year and I feel very lucky and grateful to have been given a proof copy.

I love this book. I love it so much. I don’t think any review I’ll write will ever be able to do it justice. To capture what makes this book so special I know you’ll have to read it. And you won’t be disappointed when you do.

From the very beginning of The Island of Missing Trees you are immediately swept away by the glorious writing. Elif manages to evoke such beautiful imagery throughout the book with some of the most evocative writing I’ve read.

As we follow the love story of Kostas and Defne, who find young and forbidden love before civil war breaks out in Cyprus, and the effects it has on Ada their child as a teenager. I was immediately drawn to these characters because they are so real. They way Elif shows how the past trauma can carry on for generations is so poignant. You can feel Ada yearning to know more about parts of her. I also have a special place in my heart for Yusuf and Yiorgos, a gay couple who run The Happy Fig Kostas and Defne meeting spot. I always love to see LGBTQ+ representation in books, especially when it’s this well done. But did I expect anything less from Elif? No, no I did not.

Another thing Elif captures in the book is humanity and connection. Through characters and world conflicts, Elif captures the importance of connections to others, to where we come from and to ourselves. She conveys the complexity and lasting effects for the people living through wars, both those who stayed and fled, in the most profound and heartbreaking ways.

Partly narrated by the The Fig Tree, Elif reminds us how important and how connected we are to the natural world. I have to say I really loved these sections, they were my favourite of the book. It’s fiction writing at its finest. The way Elif had an animals visiting the tree and how they moved the narrative forward really is something special.

Although the book deals with Civil War and loss, it’s also full of hope. It’s a reminder to live life with an open heart, an open mind and to be accepting of joy in your life. It’s a book that has so much depth to it and so many layers.

There’s no denying the Elif is a master storyteller. She captures the complexities and nuances of the human spirit like no other author. It’s remarkable. By the end of the book I was smiling and it brings a smile to my face to even think of the book. It’s the kind of book I was telling my friends about at work, the kind of book I couldn’t wait to get home and read, the kind of book I’m looking forward to reading again.

There’s no doubt this will be in my top 10 books of the year.

Until the next review

Jthbooks