Book Review: The Overstory

It’s been a while since my last post, and that’s partially because The Overstory by Richard Powers is a long and dense – though also beautiful – novel, much like the trees that inspire it’s plot and characters (and partially the result of Spring’s arrival, pulling me away from books, into my garden).

As someone who spends a lot of time in nature, I would have told you (before reading this novel), that I had a deep appreciation for trees and a really progressive view regarding conservationism. But now I know my appreciation for trees is a sapling compared to the Giant Sequoia that Richard Powers has presented to us with this novel (albeit a sapling that has grown immensely due to reading this book).

The Overstory follows nine primary characters across several decades, as their stories come together as a result of their relationship to trees and forests. In a Between the Covers podcast featuring Richard Powers, he articulated how the narrative reflects the structural components of a tree: various roots coming together for a common cause, only to diverge later on and drop seeds that may or may not lead to future stories. The nerd in me can’t get over that, though in hindsight it seems obvious (I couldn’t see the forest for the trees, I guess).

But I will also say, that while this story is worth the time and effort required to get through it, it’s definitely a long commitment and, at times, slower than the rave reviews led me to believe. However, despite those slower parts, I found myself understanding trees and conservation so differently as a result of this story. And, for me, any story that can fundamentally change the way I look at the world is invaluable.

Ready to read this one? Get the book from an independent bookstore HERE.

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