Reflections: The Island of Missing Trees by Ms. Elif Shafak

What was the book about?

Ms. Elif is a believer of the inherited pain, and this book is about  the same, in humans, in animals and in plants. The island of the missing trees is a historic fiction with the background set during 1974 Cyprus conflict. The protagonists of the story are Kostas, a Greek Christian,  Defne, a Turkish Muslim and a Fig Tree (to be precise a female fig tree). The two teenagers with contrasting personalities fell in love, during the time they shouldn't. The book narrates their journey, through their perspectives and from the fig's point of view. How amid the communal tension and conflicts in Cyprus, the lovers had to part ways and how having lost their love they found themselves?

How I felt after reading it?

My very first thought was, how less I know about the past, the people and their pain. I had read about the holocaust, the nuclear attacks and as an Indian, about the communal riots happened during Indian Independence. I had not heard of Cyprus conflict. I couldn't fathom about Muslims and Christians fighting. I don't know why, I simply never thought they could. But then something happens, it had happened everywhere, when good neighbors and friends turned against each other.

I can sense the pain, writer wished to convey. However, no one can actually feel it except those who have experienced it first hand. Through Defne, I mourned the human suffering, but then Kostas highlighted the traumas of those, we seldom think of. Wars affect humans, animals and plants unbiasedly. Our fig tree is one of the narrator. At one point, Defne wished if that fig could talk, that moment I wished for the same. I wished the trees, the animals could talk, then we might have the actual version of human history not the distorted or manipulated ones. The past carries pain for all of us.

The characters other than Defne and Kostas have also left their impact. They all have their important share of pieces in the story. Ada, a teenager who despite being born and raised in London, couldn't able to fit cause she was disconnected from her roots. Merium, with her idiosyncrasies and superstitions made me felt sorry and proud for her. However I must mention that comparatively the non human characters stirred me deeper. The fig, the parrot, the song birds, the dead bats, the trees. I had mourned for an animal but not for a tree, never even felt bad for a dying plant. 

I know there are people who are working for preserving burning forests and regenerating corals, but is their count enough? Shouldn't we all contribute for the purpose. Afterall they are the first inhabitants of our planet. It is theirs's as much as it is ours.

My review?

How Elif has personified the fig, is marvelous. Narration is fresh and compelling. Vocabulary used is decent. Ms. Elif is a renowned writer and her work has been published in more than 50 languages. This fact itself states that her writing approaches her readers. I would surely recommend this book to all my fellow readers.


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