The Overstory by Richard Powers - 5⭐

The Overstory by Richard Powers - 5⭐

It has taken me so long - honestly much longer than I had intended - to write this review. I really should get into the habit of writing reviews immediately after finishing a novel, but sometimes, the feelings are just too fresh, too big, too overwhelming to sit down and put them into words. So here I am, a month and a half after having finished The Overstory, finally ready to share my review with you. Hopefully it's a decent take. 

To begin, The Overstory follows nine different characters. In the first part of the book entitled Roots, these nine characters are divided into eight "short stories", something I honestly thought would continue throughout the entire book. In part two entitled Trunkthe short stories fall away entirely and the nine characters lives are interwoven with one another, expanding and contracting as you move through their lives and how those lives come into contact with the natural world. 

This is definitely one of those books that is incredibly introspective and philosophical and written in a way where every sentence feels as if it carries layers of depth. It very much reminds me of Kevin Wilson's writing in Now is Not the Time to Panic in that way, and I love it so much for that. I love a story that you can enjoy on the surface or dig deep to reveal something entirely new and more nuanced. It's the kind of novel you could read more than once and walk away discovering something new with each read-through. 

Without giving anything away, I am 99.99% certain that The Overstory also plays with the theory of the multiverse or multiple dimensions/ timelines. Skip to the next paragraph if you don't want me to spoil anything, but I have got to ask: Who else believes that Olivia's character is the daughter of Ray & Dorothy in an alternate timeline? They are the only two characters who have zero interaction with the others and in the timeline in which we are reading, they are childless. However, so many ideas are hinted at these three characters being linked, just not in the two timelines we are currently reading about. It's a wild theory, but it's been one that has kept me up at night because it just makes sense!

Anywho, to those who know me, I am absolutely obsessed with anything having to deal with the multiverse and gobble stories that play with time up like second breakfast. So to have The Overstory even hinting at more than one timeline had me super excited!

One of my favorite takeaways from this novel was how the author approached not only the nine character's vastly different life experiences, but also how they each approached their own special brand of activism. There was the artist who imagined a better world, the classic "tree-huggers" who literally out their bodies on the line, the tech-guy who believes that computers can help solve issues humans cannot, and even the suburbanites who quietly protested in the only way they knew how. I felt that this variety mirrored life beautifully and realistically. There is not one silver bullet that is going to solve the worlds problems but a combination of ideas that will help us dig out from the issues we face as a species.

In the end, I walked away feeling a lot of things, questions running through my mind, and a new outlook on trees and what it is they provide for, not just humans, but the entire world and its inhabitants. And the same question kept rolling around for me: 

Is it us saving the trees, or are they trying to save us?
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