REVIEW: The Impossible Story Of Olive In Love by Tonya Alexandra

Published: 27th March 2017

Publisher: Harlequin Teen Australia

Pages:  284

Format: Paperback courtesy of the publisher

RRP: $19.99

3/5 Stars

A break-out quirky novel that will appeal to readers of Rainbow Rowell.

I get that I’m impossible.
I get that I’m mad and rude — perhaps even a drama queen at times.
But you’d be impossible if you lived my life … You’d be impossible if you were invisible.
Shakespeare was an idiot. Love is not blind. Love is being seen.

Plagued by a gypsy curse that she’ll be invisible to all but her true love, seventeen-year-old Olive is understandably bitter. Her mother is dead; her father has taken off. Her sister, Rose, is insufferably perfect. Her one friend, Felix, is blind and thinks she’s making it all up for attention.

Olive spends her days writing articles for her gossip column and stalking her childhood friend, Jordan, whom she had to abandon when she was ten because Jordan’s parents would no longer tolerate an ‘imaginary friend’. Nobody has seen her — until she meets Tom: the poster boy for normal and the absolute opposite of Olive.

But how do you date a boy who doesn’t know you’re invisible? Worse still, what happens when Mr Right feels wrong? Has destiny screwed up? In typical Olive fashion, the course is set for destruction. And because we’re talking Olive here, the ride is funny, passionate and way, way, way, way dramatic.

This story is for anyone who’s ever felt invisible.

This story is for anyone who sees the possible in the impossible.

Invisibility. It’s something every human being on the planet has considered at some point in their life. For some, it’s the means to the end when we would rather the floor open up and swallow us whole to stop others witnessing our transgressions and embarrassment. For others, it’s that daily reminder that you have once again been over looked and ignored by your peers and others. For me personally, there have been vast periods of my life where I have experienced both sides of the coin, and yet I’ve never really thought through the ramifications of invisibility. Debut Australian Author Tonya Alexandra has.

The Impossible Story Of Olive In Love is an intriguing read with a fascinating basis. The book is centred around seventeen year old Olive, who through not fault of her own, is suffering from a gypsy curse her family brought on three generations before her. Totally invisible to everyone around her – her family included – Olive is forced to tackle the world alone and in a way most of us couldn’t deal with. She can’t open doors, or eat in public, strangers constantly run into her and no one is really aware of her existence outside of her family and even they haven’t laid eyes on her. Olive lives her life as though she is in limbo, waiting for her one true life to magically appear before for, as he is the only person gifted to truly see her.

I wanted to love this book so bad. I was so excited to be asked to review it and eagerly dived into the book full heartedly. I was sucked into the story almost immediately and despite reading it quickly I’m still mystified and confused by my feelings on the book, even now some months later. It’s also why this review is so late. I keep yo-yoing with my take on the book!

I don’t think I liked Olivia as a character. She is snarky and horrible to those around her; and yet I can understand why. Here is a seventeen year old girl whose life is largely dictated to her by the convenience and beliefs of others. Unlike you and me, she can’t walk in through her own front door because society could not deal with or process seeing a phantom door opening on its own. Or perhaps even more alarming, she can’t even see what she looks like. To have such a fundamental part of who you know yourself to be – as partly given by knowing what you look like – is something every person would crumble under. I applaud Tonya Alexandra for writing such a flawed and complex character that I can appreciate, but sadly I just didn’t connect with Olive as much as I would have liked and I fear that may have swayed the book slightly for me.

What’s more I didn’t feel anything between Olive and Tom, our leading man. I tried so hard but she was such a bitch to him and he was just too good, to the point he almost had no dimension beyond the words on the page. Meanwhile, Olive’s blind best friend Felix felt real to me. While Tom did absolutely nothing for me, Felix was my hero. Through his character and Olive’s, Alexandra touches on the concept of disability and the socially accepted scale of what makes one ‘normal’ and ‘acceptable’ to ‘invisible’ and ‘made up’. Thus we get a glimpse into the realities of living with mental illnesses in current society ; if you can’t see it then people assume it just isn’t there. As a whole I really enjoyed Felix and Olive’s interactions and really loved this side sub plot. The book’s ending has given me some hope that perhaps there will be a second book in the series. Despite not connecting with this one, I would still read a sequel as there is so much left unanswered in what is a relatively short narrative and the ending is rather intriguing as well.

All that said there are pure moments of gold in this book. When Olive isn’t dramatising everything, you can see the heart of a real person and those around her. She is strong, but vulnerable. Snarky and almost cruel, but there’s a hint of something else there waiting to be explored. What’s more the way in which Alexandra has dealt with the issue of mental illness and it’s awareness is nothing short of amazing. I defy anyone to read it and not recognised people they know. She has given a voice to group of people who have been constantly silenced through societies own blindness and stubbornness.

To learn more about Tonya Alexandra, visit the following social media pages:

Tonya Alexandra’s Website | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | harlequin australia

To purchase a copy of the book, visit the following online retailers:

Harlequin Australia | Booktopia | Angus & Robertson’s bookworld | Amazon Au | AMazon US | ibooks | Google Play | kobo | Dymocks AU |

 

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