The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak

I hadn’t been expecting to fall in love with a fig tree upon opening this book, yet here we are. The Island of Missing Trees is my absolute favourite book from 2022. With it, Elif Shafak blends a glorious mix of magical realism, forbidden love, beautiful imagery, intergenerational trauma, and the musings of a fig tree who witnesses it all.

There are many threads to the book’s story, with the root of it being with two teenagers, one a Greek Cypriot and the other a Turkish Cypriot, falling in love in the divided Cyprus of the 1970s.

Love is the bold affirmation of hope. You don’t embrace hope when death and destruction are in command. You don’t put on your best dress and tuck a flower in your hair when you are surrounded by ruins and shards. You don’t lose your heart at a time when hearts are supposed to remain sealed, especially for those who are not of your religion, not of your language, not of your blood. You don’t fall in love in Cyprus in the summer of 1974. Not here, not now. And yet there they were, the two of them.

When I got the last page, I found myself returning to the book’s dedication, which got me right to the heart.

to immigrants and exiles everywhere, the uprooted, the re-rooted, the rootless, and to the trees we left behind, rooted in our memories

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