Do all the people in your family get along? Or is there sometimes so many hard feelings you have to schedule carefully to make sure feuding siblings or estranged parents don’t run into each other at the same event? Most of us have seen at least a little of this uncomfortable situation, and can identify with the family in Grace Mattioli’s debut novel.
The best part of Olive Branches Don’t Grow on Trees is the characters.
Every member of this dysfunctional family is a real person you get to know through Silvia, the middle daughter, who is trying so hard just to get her whole family in one room together for a meal. We’ve all known someone like her Dad, a man who has an important job and good standing in the community, but is an abusive drunk at home. Mom finally finds the strength to leave and somehow manages to distance herself from her four grown children at the same time.
Sylvia has been forced to return to her father’s house because she’s broke and has, once again, been fired from a low level job. The seemingly hopeless task of trying to set up a family reunion dinner gives purpose and direction to Sylvia who has been drifting from place to place and job to job since her art school graduation.
This is a debut book and is supposed to be the first of a series. I will definitely look for the sequel, because I’m convinced each of the six people in Silvia’s family has an interesting story of their own.