THE OVERSTORY by Richard Powers


I thought to write a brilliant, coherent review of this shattering book but decided instead to go from the gut, having just finished it.

It has been a long, long time since I have been so utterly upended by a novel. Unmade and remade. And unmade again. Hard to find words other than those. Hmmmmm. Let me try this. This book is about trees. The words tree and truth come from the same Old English root. That, to me, is huge.

Overstory is a wake up call. Overstory should be required reading. Overstory is about trees/people/life, about balance and wisdom, chaos and ignorance; about persistence and understanding; and about the havoc caused by the acquisitiveness of the human species. Get. More. Stuff. It is about what can save us and what destroys us. And, in turn, what we save and destroy. It is about how life evolves. It is about love, it is always about love. Community and what we are willing to sacrifice, it is about that too.

It is a big book, just over 500 pages, and worth every second that I spent reading it, that I spent gasping, grinning, weeping, unable to read through the tears. It took me a few pages to find its heart. Holding the heavy tome in my lap, I may have been 50 pages in before I knew there was no turning back, that I was in deep. A little further on and I realized that I was changing, changing in ways that were both familiar and new, as though breaking from a chrysalis.

I don’t now what else to say. There are many, many reviews of this book available – it won The National Book Award – so if you want a synopsis of the story you can reach out to those. This is more about what it may do to you…

7 comments on “THE OVERSTORY by Richard Powers”

  1. Thanks for your heartfelt review. I always appreciate your personal impressions. You have led me to many wonderful books. I’ve never been disappointed.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Oh, JNaz, I much prefer your sharing your very personal reaction to a book to a synopsis of the story! Tree and Truth…just, WOW. Glad to have a heads-up that it may take some pages to burrow into the reader’s heart and mind. This book has been on my list for some time, probably ever since it won the National Book Award. I simply must move it up in the line. I want to be changed, too.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Do it, Teri. Do it now. And make sure you have chunks of time to fall into it. Maybe solitary time so you don’t have to keep explaining why you are crying. Or gasping.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Reader Michelle wrote me a letter that she is also reading this book! I’m hopeful for a robust conversation at our meetup šŸ™‚ Thanks for your review, JNaz – when I have time, I’m looking forward to reading this for sure. EPIC!

    Liked by 1 person

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