Olive has lived her whole life under a Gypsy cursed placed upon her pregnant mother, doomed to be invisible to all but her true love, Olive lives a half-life dependent on her family, and few close friends that love and value her despite not ever having seen her face.
After the events of The Impossible Story of Olive in Love, in which Olive broke up with her boyfriend Tom, the person she still believed was her true love, the sequel opens with Olive and best friend Rose travelling the world. Sneaking into 5-star hotels in Vietnam (it’s easy to check in for free when you can’t be seen by the staff), they encounter two intriguing young men who capture their attention.
To Olive’s astonishment, Dillon, one of the two – a dark haired, far too charming Irishman – locks eyes with her, and it is clear that he can actually see her – the second person ever to. Unsure of what this means for her curse, Olive keeps in touch with Dillon as she, Rose and Englishman Simon travel through Asia to China and Tibet. Reaching out to her estranged grandmother, Olive travels alone to New York to speak with her and learn more about her curse.
Alexandra has done a wonderful job of weaving Irish mythology into this very modern tale, Olive’s journey to self-love, and how she learns not to define herself exclusively by her curse of invisibility. While the touch of fantasy adds whimsy and tension, the issues and difficulties that it introduces are familiar and very real.
One aspect of this novel that this reviewer thought made it stand out from the crowd, was the underlying message to not letting romantic relationships define you, especially when you are young. First (and second) love has such significance, but learning to love oneself, and discovering what really drives you and matters to you is a message that teenagers about to head into the wide world after school will surely find.
Olive is a deeply human and flawed character, like all of us she is not immune to the influence of pride, jealousy and insecurity. Her development over the course of the book into a self-assured, quietly confident, and calmer person is believable and inspiring.
Her close friendships with Rose and Felix has such a touch of authenticity, and the maturity with which they navigated conflict has a lesson for all of us – even adults.
In these two novels about Olive, Tonya Alexandra has created a duology that will charm and engage adults and teenagers alike. Readers will find themselves at times cheering on for Olive, and at others, wishing they could give her a good talking to. The satisfying conclusion will leave you wishing there was another volume of Olive’s adventures, you will not want to say goodbye to these characters.
You can purchase a copy of The Implausible Story of Olive here.
Tonya has worked in marketing, travel and publishing for just under twenty years, writing for print, TV and online. She lives near Manly in Sydney with her husband, three sons and puppy Lola. She is on the committee of the CBCA northern suburbs branch, and believes in promoting reading and writing for mental health.