Olivia is the follow up to Contessa, and the second installment of the Choisie series, a companion to the Emi Lost and Found series. If you have yet to read ElaF, please do so soon. It is a favorite of mine; one of the most beautiful stories about friendship, love, and loss that I have ever read. IF you haven’t read at least Contessa, STOP HERE. We don’t want to spoil anything for you!
Lea: Olivia picks up a few months after Contessa ended. Livvy is going into her senior year, and has just been through a rather eventful, albeit not particularly happy, summer. One specific event has shaped her mindset significantly. She experienced a huge loss that left her feeling, well, lost. She is even having a hard time painting, which is really something that has defined her throughout her life thus far. Seeing her lose her confidence and desire to paint was really hard. I hated knowing that she felt almost scared to enter her studio, or even pick up a brush. It seemed like she practiced avoidance like it was her job, and found other outlets to transfer her feelings and self into instead of creating art.
Julie: I want to start out by saying that this book wrecked me in so many ways. I was so happy, sad, and heartbroken. Love is never easy and you really see it in this book. As it starts out, there’s so much sadness over what she’s lost, you find Jon supporting Olivia and he never fails in showing his love for her. I think I fell more in love with him myself in this one.
Kathy: In many ways, Livvy has lost her sense of self and is clinging to Jon, hoping that everything will fall into place again. Poor Jon has a lot on his shoulders. He's starting school, trying to keep his own family afloat from a distance, and working to keep Livvy out of a deep depression. When you mix in the paparazzi, classmates, and extended family, life gets complicated. Livvy and Jon have such a rich and deep connection. Their love is incredibly strong, yet any relationship will strain under the slew of unfortunate burdens this young couple endures.
Lea: It was really difficult to read as those burdens weighed heavier and heavier on their relationship. I just wanted to scream at them to stop and pay attention to what they were doing. Communicate, make each other understand. Jon frustrated me to no end, but I love him so much. I know he was trying to do what he thought best. And Olivia. Well, I have to say that I was impressed with her growth in some areas but at the same time, I wanted her to snap out of her denial, face the situation that was bogging her down.
Julie: I loved Olivia but yet found myself being so mad at her. Some of the things she did had me back to thinking she’s still immature, and so many times, I just wanted to slap her. She lacked compassion in the way she didn’t seem to care about others’ feelings at times and by the end, I was reeling. I was so mad and left with such a book hangover that I didn’t think I would bounce back from it.
Kathy: One of the things I love about Livvy is that I kind of feel as though we, the readers, have watched her grow up. We read about her adoption as a child in the Emi Lost and Found Series, and then her transition into a young girl in Contessa. In Olivia, we find Livvy struggling not only with debilitating grief, but also with finding her own path as a person. Not as a daughter or a girlfriend, but as a young woman on the cusp of self-discovery. It's an awesome journey to follow her life.
Lea: It is. And by the end, as sad as I was, I was also glad to see her right herself again. These kids break my heart over and over, and I really hope they stop doing that SOMEDAY. Livvy has learned so much since we first really met her in Contessa, and I cannot wait to see what will happen when she starts college. And Jon, as near perfect as he is, I feel has some more growing pains to endure himself. I cannot wait to read his novella, especially after the end of Olivia. I am dying!! Lori ran my heart through the ringer once before, and though she repaired it, I didn’t think she could break it again. I should have known better! Either way, this was another 5 star read from one of my favorite authors!
Julie: Lori’s writing style is so unique that she can make you feel like you are right there in the book and going through everything with them. Her writing is clean and so descriptive, and that’s a very rare thing to find anymore. I have read all of her books and she is so consistent in her writing and definitely produces that ‘wow’ factor. I may have been a late bloomer in reading some of her writing but I am definitely hooked and all I can say is that I need MORE and ASAP. This is another 5 star for me, too, and I am impatiently waiting for more of this series!!
Kathy: She is a master storyteller. The reason her books jump off the page for me is that they are real. People make mistakes. Kids are young and impetuous. Parents overreact. While there is grief and heartbreak, there is honesty. No matter the emotion, the reader FEELS it. Experiences it. Lives it. Breathes it. And if you're like me, you savor every magical word. There's a reason that books like this aren't pumped out every month. Art like this series takes time to perfect. I'll gladly sit and wait for the next installment: Dear Jon. 4.5 Stars for Olivia by Lori Otto!