Headed by Anna, the 112-year-old matriarch, five generations of Keller women live among the olive groves of Northern California. Because of their unique ability to live long, healthy lives, a researcher is studying their genetic makeup to discover the secrets of their longevity. As a result of the study, long-kept family secrets rise to the surface. More drama ensues when Erin, the youngest, arrives pregnant and in need of help, and Deb, Erin's mother, returns home after 20 years in prison for murdering her husband. Soon tensions rise, and old grudges reignite, resulting in unexpected turmoil. Santo paints a moving portrait of an extraordinary, yet flawed, family. Although in many ways the younger women benefit from the wisdom of the older generations, they experience a loss of autonomy from never truly taking charge of their families, causing each successive generation to be less grounded than the one before. An impressive debut that explores the importance of family, the destructiveness of secrets, and the ultimate liberation of the truth. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Multigenerational sagas featuring indomitable women are the stuff of contemporary fiction, but this debut is noteworthy because it represents five generations, still living together in a house surrounded by an olive grove in Sacramento Valley. Now a geneticist wants to study the women to determine the secret of their longevity. But 112-year-old matriarch Anna worries that secrets she's hidden for over a century might be revealed. With a 100,000-copy first printing. [Page 60]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.Review by Library Journal Reviews
Anna Keller's most ardent wish is to be the oldest person in the world. She's 112 and her chances are pretty good. In fact, five generations of Keller women (mother Anna, daughter Bets, granddaughter Callie, great-granddaughter Deb, and great-great-granddaughter Erin) live together in California's Sacramento Valley, and a geneticist is coming to study their longevity. Although the women appear ordinary, they defy the odds with their unusual life span, and each has secrets that both define and threaten to derail their idyllic existence. When Erin, the youngest Keller, arrives, pregnant and alone, at Hill House after being in Italy for two years, her unexpected return stirs up long-dormant feelings among the women and brings all their guilt, remorse, and secrets to the surface. Her mother, Deb, will be up for parole soon, and Erin is determined to help her secure her release from prison. VERDICT Santo's debut offers a compelling look at five strong women. While the geneticist's findings, which are interspersed throughout the book, could prove distracting to some readers, overall this solid novel will appeal to fans of women's fiction. [See Prepub Alert, 5/5/12; library marketing; 100,000-copy first printing.]—Cynthia A. Price, Francis Marion Univ. Lib., Florence, SC [Page 88]. (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.
When a geneticist arrives to study their unusual lifespans, the Keller family--five generations of firstborn women who live together in the same house on a secluded olive grove--is shaken as revelations and secrets come to light.Review by Publisher Summary 2
"Meet the Keller family, five generations of firstborn women-an unbroken line of daughters-living together in the same house on a secluded olive grove in the Sacramento Valley of Northern California. Anna, the family matriarch, is 112 and determined to become the oldest person in the world. An indomitable force, strong in mind and firm in body, she rules Hill House, the family home she shares with her daughter Bets, granddaughter Callie, great-granddaughter Deb, and great-great-granddaughter Erin. Thoughthey lead ordinary lives, there is an element of the extraordinary to these women: the eldest two are defying longevity norms. Their unusual lifespans have caught the attention of a geneticist who believes they hold the key to breakthroughs that will revolutionize the aging process for everyone. But Anna is not interested in unlocking secrets the Keller blood holds. She believes there are some truths that must stay hidden, including certain knowledge about her origins that she has carried for more than acentury. Like Anna, each of the Keller women conceals her true self from the others. While they are bound by blood and the house they share, living together has not always been easy."--Dust jacket.Review by Publisher Summary 3
When a geneticist arrives to study their unusual lifespans, the Keller family--five generations of firstborn women who live together in the same house on a secluded olive grove--is shaken to its very roots as new revelations and shocking secrets come to light. 100,000 first printing.Review by Publisher Summary 4
An extraordinary new voice in contemporary woman's fiction, Courtney Miller Santo makes her magnificent debut with The Roots of the Olive Tree, a novel that will delight fans of Sarah Blake's The Postmistress, The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd, and the works of Kristin Hannah.Set in a house on an olive grove in northern California, The Roots of the Olive Tree is a beautiful, touching story that brings to life five generations of women'including an unforgettable 112-year-old matriarch determined to break all Guinness longevity records'the secrets and lies that divide them and the love that ultimately ties them together.