Book Review: “The Overstory” by Richard Powers

overstoryWhile this sweeping novel follows the lives of 9 interconnected strangers, some over the course of their entire lives, it isn’t really about people. Or at least it isn’t just about people. We learn a lot about each of these characters, and follow them through moments of great joy, loneliness, love, loss, suffering, and beauty; with each of those moments written in beautiful detail. We even experience a few moments of human history itself through the eyes of these flawed but hopeful people. But for everything we go through with them, ultimately the main character, the one who appears in every story, is Nature. Or more specifically, Trees. That may sound ridiculous, but using a mixture of elegant prose and current science it not only works, but convinces you that they deserve to be at the center of an epic novel. If you aren’t a nature lover going into this book, you will be by the end, as you find yourself often feeling equally moved by the acts of the trees as by the humans contained within. Between the emotion and the science I found myself completely rethinking the way I look at trees and even plant-life in general, and while I don’t think I will now run around hugging them, I will do what I can to greatly reduce how many products I use that are made by cutting them down. And any story that can make someone change how they live their life is a powerful and well-written one indeed. ★★★★★ – Sean Farrell

★★★★★ = Excellent | ★★★★ = Very Good | ★★★ = Good | ★★ = Fair | ★ = Poor

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