Book: The Overstory

Author: Richard Powers

Review by: Michael Manely, family law attorney at The Manely Firm P.C. 

Michael Manely

This is not a light read, but I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. Powers’s writing is literary, moving and evocative, with the novel tracking an unusual protagonist over more than a century: trees.  

The central characters of the book are drawn to trees, tied to trees and enmeshed in the lives of trees, an attitude that is immediately recognizable to those whose passions cause them to willfully accept the “tree-hugger” label. 

For those who are at a loss to understand this driving force and connection, this book offers an accessible, nuanced explanation in story form at a time when conversations around climate change tend to produce polarized opinions and policy prescriptions. 

Amid the struggle to become more “woke” as a species, the book offers an excellent foray into  understanding the possible intelligence of trees and the wisdom in fighting for them, especially when some cultures see their value purely in terms of board feet.

As science is not only revealing to us how dependent we are upon trees, it also is showing us that the trees communicate with each other, determine and employ defenses, and even are quite possibly sentient. The Overstory opens our hearts to their story and the stories of those who see this bigger picture. I highly recommend this book to anyone willing to envision a deeper world.

Editor’s notes: Global Atlanta will receive a 10 percent commission on any purchase of this book through the links on this page. also contributes 10 percent of the purchase price of each book to independent booksellers around the United States.

Each year, Global Atlanta asks influential readers and community leaders to review the most impactful book they read during the course of the year. This endeavor has continued annually since 2010. 

See last year’s full list of books on BookShop here, and all 2020 reader picks here. 

All books were chosen and reviews written independently, with only mild editing from our staff.