What features of 'Willow Tree and Olive' make it worthy to study?
'Willow Tree and Olive' is a post- modernist novel by Irini Savvedes. The story presents a period of a young girl's life during which we see her discover and accept things about herself by remembering things from her past that she has tried to forget.
Olive is a teenage girl in her last year of school trying to get through the difficulties that come with adolescence: fitting into school, her family and her culture. A speaker who comes to her school triggers something in Olive's memory as she talks about child abuse. Olive is remembering that she was raped as a child, something she never told anyone and forced herself to forget. Gradually more and more memories about the event come back to Olive and she breaks down. She sees a psychiatrist for a few months and is then sent to Greece, her homeland and the place where she was raped.
We see the stages of her rehabilitation and her transformation into a woman while she is Greece.
One of the main themes in this book is Olive's fixation with her culture. At points during the book she talks of her Greek heritage as if she either loves it or hates it, this emotion is a swinging pendulum that alternates depending on which traditional event she's telling us about. It makes her look different to the other girls at school who find her dark hair and skin, her hairy (not to mention tall and broad shouldered) body something to ridicule. She doesn't like her family's general expectation that she will find a Greek man and have a huge wedding with lots of apricot taffeta. Olive does, however, love the history, myths and scenery of her country.