Harpercollins Publishers|August 13, 2012|Trade Paperback|ISBN: 978-0-06-221996-1
Five generations of firstborn Keller women live in the same house on an olive grove in secluded northern California. Anna is 112 and trying to be the oldest woman in the world and succeeding heartily. Her daughter, Bets, granddaughter, Callie, great-granddaughter, Deb, and great-great granddaughter, Erin are also defying the longevity norms. When a geneticist comes to study the women at the same time Erin announces she is pregnant with her firstborn boy, the Keller’s roots are shaken wide open. Told in the third-person perspective of each of the women, the story and mystery of their existence is revealed in compulsive prose and compassionate drive.
Five generations of firstborn women, living together in Hill House which is located in a secluded olive grove in northern California is the amazing setting for this story. Meet the Keller family: Anna, the matriarch is 112-years-old; Elizabeth or Bets is her daughter and she is 90-years-old; then Calliope or Callie her granddaughter; Deb, her great-granddaughter, and Erin, her great-great granddaughter.
Dr. Amrit Hashmi, a geneticist, learns about the Keller women and is coming to investigate, collect blood samples, and take an oral history all in the hope of discovering the reason to their amazing longevity. Each woman has a different opinion about his coming, but Elizabeth (Bets), is worried that he may uncover her secret that she’s held for so many years.
Deb, is in Chowchilla prison and an upcoming parole hearing has brought her daughter, Erin home after a long absence. She arrives with a secret of her own. Actually, each of the women in this family habours secrets of their own and although the friction between the members of this family often leads to fights, it’s the strong roots of the olive grove that binds them together.
I enjoyed some of the characters more than others, like Anna for example who is just too old and sweet not to like. However, her great-granddaughter, Deb is selfish and self-centered and for a woman in prison for a very good reason, I don’t think she is entitled to have these feelings.
For a debut novel, Courtney Miller Santo has done a remarkable job in writing this novel. The story was superbly engaging, the characters were very well developed, and really gave a believable voice of each of the women. I won’t have any trouble recommending The Roots of the Olive Tree to everyone I know. I loved the cover of this book and it was an all-round super read! I was sorry to see it end.