The Island of Missing Trees

The Island of Missing Trees by Elif Shafak is a magnificent story about love, loss, identity, and nature. 


Set in 1974 Cyprus, the country is in turmoil between the two religious groups on the island. Despite the danger it presents, Kostas, a Greek Cypriot, and Defne, a Turkish Cypriot, are young and in love at a time when there is a lot of turmoil between the two religious groups living on the island. The only place safe for the two to meet is at a tavern called The Happy Fig. The Happy Fig gets its name from a fig tree planted in the centre. This tree remembers everything that goes on in the tavern. The tree remembers the lover’s secret meetings, war breaking out, and what came after. 

Fast forward to present-day London, Ada is grieving the death of her mother. She feels that she can’t open up to Kostas, her father, because he is always buried in his work and talking to the fig tree in their backyard. Ada’s parents raised her in an English-speaking household and have never revealed much about their life in Cyprus. With the help of her visiting aunt, she begins to learn what her parents have left unsaid and discover her identity. 

Some thoughts on The Island of Missing Trees

This story has beautiful and lyrical prose with a sprinkle of magical realism. It’s told from the perspectives of Ada, Kostas, and the fig tree. The chapters are short, making this easy to fly through, even though I didn’t want it to end. There is also a helpful glossary of terms. 

It explores the harsh realities of war on civilians, the resulting traumas, and ways to heal from it. 

I forgot to mention that there’s also a talking parrot. This is the second book I’ve read this month that had one. I see a trend and, authors, I would like all future novels to have one too, please. 

This was my first Elif Shafak novel, but it will in no way be my last. 

My Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Expected Publication: 2 November 2021

Thank you to Bloomsbury Publishing for the arc via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. 

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