The Overstory

The Overstory

Book - 2018
Average Rating:
Rate this:
"An air force loadmaster in the Vietnam War is shot out of the sky, then saved by falling into a banyan. An artist inherits a hundred years of photographic portraits, all of the same doomed American chestnut. A hard-partying undergraduate in the late 1980s electrocutes herself, dies, and is sent back to life by creatures of air and light. A hearing-and speech-impaired scientist discovers that trees are communicating with one another. These four, and five other strangers -- each summoned in different ways by trees -- are brought together in a last and violent stand to save the continent's few remaining acres of virgin forest."-- From dust jacket.
Publisher: New York : W.W. Norton & Company, [2018]
Edition: First edition
Copyright Date: ©2018
ISBN: 9780393635522
Branch Call Number: FICTION POWER...R
Characteristics: 502 pages : illustrations ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

Nine strangers, each in different ways, become summoned by trees, brought together in a last stand to save the continent’s few remaining acres of virgin forest. The Overstory unfolds in concentric rings of interlocking fable, ranging from antebellum New York to the late-twentieth-century Timber W... Read More »

From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Jan 23, 2020

I'm not sure I'll ever be able to look at trees the same way again. The author found a way to make trees infinitely more interesting. I recommend having a dictionary handy when you read it, readers will find numerous botany terms. There's a modern-day fairy tale flair to this work. I really enjoyed reading this story.

Dec 28, 2019

Monumental, I have zillion (non)reasons to love this book (e.g. I enjoyed “Hidden Life of Trees” many thought boring.)
But to readers who were not radicals, or were repelled by the marginal civil disobedient, or growing indifferent to environmentalists noise, or were drawn to romance, fantasy, suspense, fact based and reason seeking... there would be easily an entry point found at root of one of the characters or tip of the branching plots, to grow into and blossom out an all-encompassing tree of life.

I considered author's oblique or elusive (disagreeing with what I held) when living through some parts/roles, but more or less satisfied at the ending. A classic!

P.S. Our legacy proved to turn living world bleak, but the author is more optimistic than I have believed. A few exemplary solutions are presented from representative protagonists:
1. Patricia's science-backed approach, as passionate as logical, I'd easily side with;
2. Radicals (and associates), from Mimi's circle of life to Nick's "STILL" art, from Doug "Fir" learning in confinement to Andrew "Maple" voluntary sentence to "eternity", set no frame of action but a mind opening to see beyond self.
3. Brinkman's, could awake generations of mainstream?
4. Neelay's AI, speculative, where I have the most doubts to influence and guide the younger generation, also the most fascinating!

envy of living in a Tree house;
guilt for reading books made from trees.

Dec 27, 2019

This book was enthusiastically recommended by several friends, two of them writers. And yet subjectively, the book never grabbed me.

Dec 21, 2019

One of the best books I've read in a long time. One to savor, read thoughtfully. I will definitely buy myself a copy...need to reread it...want to underline, highlight and margin-comment.

Dec 05, 2019

Tuesday April 28, 2020 Conifer Book Club AND Tuesday, September 8, 2020 Evergreen Book Club

Nov 22, 2019

Tom Lombardo?

Nov 13, 2019

One of the most amazing books I’ve read in years! Poetry and botany combined with fascinating characters. The only character I had trouble relating to was the adult Adam. I just finished it and I’m tempted to sit down and start reading it all over again. I don’t feel that way about very many books; I could count them on one hand. This is definitely one of them! Amazing!

Nov 12, 2019

Rec by Ari

Nov 02, 2019

Animism at epic scale. The Overstory is formidable in length and complexity; it takes commitment to follow through to the end. But even reading just some parts -- notably, the "roots" of Patricia Westerford -- is likely to profoundly change your appreciation of our natural world.

Sep 26, 2019

With the rain forest burning in the Amazon and land being cleared for palm oil plantations in Asia, it is hoped that this book about trees and activism will inspire people to look at nature and take action to protect it.

View All Comments


Add a Quote
Aug 09, 2019

Page 84 of the hardback: “...the greatest flaw of the species is its overwhelming tendency to mistake agreement for truth.”

Aug 09, 2019

Page 7 of the hardback: “Life is a battle between the Maker and His creation.”


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add a Summary

There are no summaries for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at GL

To Top