Reviews of An Olive Grove in Ends by Moses McKenzie

An Olive Grove in Ends

by Moses McKenzie

An Olive Grove in Ends by Moses McKenzie X
An Olive Grove in Ends by Moses McKenzie
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • Published:
    May 2022, 336 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs
Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

An electrifying debut about a young man faced with a fraught decision: escape a dangerous past alone, or brave his old life and keep the woman he loves.

Sayon Hughes longs to escape the volatile Bris­tol neighborhood known as Ends, the tight-knit but sometimes lawless world in which he was raised, and forge a better life with Shona, the girl he's loved since grade school. With few paths out, he is drawn into dealing drugs along­side his cousin, the unpredictable but fiercely loyal Cuba. Sayon is on the cusp of making a clean break when an altercation with a rival dealer turns deadly and an expected witness threatens blackmail, upending his plans.

Sayon's loyalties are torn. If Shona learns the secret of his crime, he will lose her forever. But if he doesn't escape Ends now, he may never get another chance. Is it possible to break free of the bookies' tickets, burnt spoons, and crook­ed solutions, and still keep the love of his life?

Rippling with authenticity and power, Mo­ses McKenzie's dazzling debut brings to life a vi­brant and teeming world we have read too little about. In its sheer lyrical power, An Olive Grove in Ends recalls the work of James Baldwin and marks the arrival of an exciting and formidable new voice.

Coming Soon.

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
  1. What does the "house-atop-the-hill" represent to Sayon and his mother?
  2. In Chapter 2, Sayon says "my mortality was as real to me as the soil I shovelled on to the aunts, uncles and cousins we buried…the funerals outnumbered even the weddings." How does his family history and their reputation in Ends impact his life as he comes of age?
  3. Each chapter begins with an epigraph that is a verse from the Bible or the Quran, or a Jamaican proverb. Why do you think the author decided to do this, and how does it affect the reading experience for you?
  4. Moses McKenzie is of Jamaican descent, but grew up in Bristol, UK. How do you think his relationship to heritage and culture influenced this novel?
  5. Sayon and Shona both grow up as children ...
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Some readers may struggle with the messages this novel sends. There are few repercussions for the lawless behavior exhibited throughout the book. The author poses controversial questions about selling drugs. Life is cheap, with casual murders occurring regularly and mostly without remorse. Although I feel a bit uneasy with the author's point of view on these subjects, I love his honesty about them. It adds to the book's authenticity. Overall, I found An Olive Grove in Ends to be wholly original, and Sayon a unique and fascinating narrator...continued

Full Review Members Only (782 words).

(Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).

Media Reviews

The Guardian (UK)
Set among a richly drawn cast in a Jamaican-Somali community in Bristol, An Olive Grove in Ends follows the turbulent, often painful childhood and teens of Sayon, a drug dealer trying to keep his crimes secret from the pastor's daughter he's in love with. His engrossing first-person narrative, lyrical and slangy by turns, is the vehicle for a tough yet tender story of faith and friendship.

Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
The most exciting U.K. debut in years…Drug violence, religious strife, and a star-crossed romance play out in this Shakespearean tale set in a Bristol neighborhood of Caribbean and Somali immigrants called Ends…A gritty coming-of-age tale for the ages.

Booklist
Sayon's world is so rich to inhabit. His family and conflicts are alive and dynamic on every page, a testament to McKenzie's electrifying sense of voice.

Publishers Weekly
McKenzie's beautiful debut, set in a predominantly British Jamaican neighborhood of Bristol, England, exhibits both a tenderness for the residents and an unflinching examination of their struggles...It's a gorgeous debut that nurtures an unlikely sort of hope that's predicated on countless losses.

Author Blurb Donal Ryan, two-time Booker Prize nominee and author of The Spinning Heart
An Olive Grove in Ends is magnificent. Moses McKenzie's talent is off the scale. It's a long time since a novel gripped me so tightly...This is a phenomenally good novel, tense and thrilling and complex, with breath-stealing moments on every page.

Author Blurb Patrick McCabe, two-time Booker Prize finalist and author of The Butcher Boy
What struck me most forcibly about An Olive Grove in Ends is the poetic strength and majesty of its prose—as the author himself might have it, 'like clarified honey.' From an author of such tender years, this consummately crafted work can only be a harbinger of a stellar and truly significant career. I urge you to read it.

Reader Reviews

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Beyond the Book

Bristol, England

Overhead shot of Bristol Observatory and Clifton Suspension BridgeMoses McKenzie's debut novel, An Olive Grove in Ends, is set in Bristol, UK, a port city in southwest England, about 120 miles due west of London.

The Romans built a settlement in what is now Bristol early in the 2nd century CE. The oldest castle in the area — Bristol Castle, at the confluence of the Avon and Frome Rivers — was first mentioned in print in 1088 CE, and the city was incorporated in 1155. Its location made it ideal for trading and manufacturing, and during the 14th century, Bristol imported raw wool from Ireland, wove it into cloth, and then exported it to Spain and Portugal in exchange for sherry and port. During the 17th and 18th centuries, the city was used as a clearinghouse for sugar, tobacco and cacao from...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Read-alikes Full readalike results are for members only

If you liked An Olive Grove in Ends, try these:

  • The Fortune Men jacket

    The Fortune Men

    by Nadifa Mohamed

    Published 2022

    About this book

    More by this author

    Based on a true event, an intimate and harrowing novel about the last man in Cardiff to be sentenced to death.

  • Assembly jacket

    Assembly

    by Natasha Brown

    Published 2022

    About this book

    A woman confronts the most important question of her life in this blistering, fearless, and unforgettable literary debut from "a stunning new writer" (Bernardine Evaristo).

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search read-alikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for 12 months or $12 for 3 months.
  • More about membership!

Join BookBrowse

and discover exceptional books
for just $3.25 per month.

Find out more


Top Picks

  • Book Jacket: Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    Iona Iverson's Rules for Commuting
    by Clare Pooley
    For the many years that I've been reading, one realization has always come to mind for me after ...
  • Book Jacket: We Had to Remove This Post
    We Had to Remove This Post
    by Hanna Bervoets
    It's not about money. Kayleigh, the protagonist and narrator of We Had to Remove This Post, a newly ...
  • Book Jacket: River of the Gods
    River of the Gods
    by Candice Millard
    The Nile River has provided vital resources for millennia, serving as a source of water, food and ...
  • Book Jacket: Horse
    Horse
    by Geraldine Brooks
    Geraldine Brooks creates a powerful backstory for 19th-century thoroughbred racehorse Lexington, ...

Book Club Discussion

Book Jacket
Hamnet
by Maggie O'Farrell
"Of all the stories...about Shakespeare’s life, [Hamnet] is so gorgeously written that it transports you."
The Boston Globe

Members Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    The Lies I Tell
    by Julie Clark

    The new thriller from the New York Times bestselling author of The Last Flight!

  • Book Jacket

    Jackie & Me
    by Louis Bayard

    Master storyteller Louis Bayard delivers a surprising portrait of a young Jackie Kennedy as we've never seen her before.

Win This Book!
Win Where the Crawdads Sing

Win a signed copy of Where the Crawdads Sing

In celebration of the movie release on July 15, we have three signed copies to give away.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

T O Thing W H T F I F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.