March 25, 2024


By Allie Millington
Allie Millington winningly blends magic and realism, poignancy and mystery in Olivetti, a heartfelt tale that movingly explores the importance of communication.
Share this Article:

Allie Millington’s warmly emotional, wryly funny Olivetti is an engaging debut novel about the power of stories. This treasure of a tale offers hope for healing after incredibly hard times. 

It’s been a few years since what 12-year-old Ernest Brindle calls “the Everything That Happened,” which drastically changed his family life. His dad, Felix, disappears into his work; Ernest’s three siblings focus more on hobbies than togetherness; and Ernest memorizes words from his beloved Oxford English Dictionary to soothe his anxiety. He escapes to the roof of Valley View Apartments, where his family used to gather for stargazing, when he’s feeling misunderstood or lonely.

Ernest’s mom, Beatrice, has tried to bring the family closer again, to no avail. Through it all, a dark green typewriter named Olivetti (like the brand) has been silently watching, wishing he could help. “Humans take their mouths for granted,” he thinks. “I would do anything for the chance to say anything.” But it’s typewriter code “to never let what has been typed into us back out.” 

When Beatrice suddenly sells Olivetti to the Heartland Pawn Shop and disappears, Olivetti is as stunned and worried as the rest of the Brindle family. And when Ernest goes to the shop and confesses via typing that he thinks Beatrice fled because of him, Olivetti casts aside the typewriter code and offers his assistance. He’s not the only one: Quinn, the pawnshop owner’s confident daughter, informs Ernest that she’ll help track down his mom, too.

Boy and typewriter take turns narrating the trio’s suspenseful and stressful mission, and Millington uses flashbacks to fill in the contours of the Brindle family’s life and Olivetti’s unusual existence. The author winningly blends magic and realism, poignancy and mystery, as her characters close in on what’s happened to Beatrice, bonding through adversity along the way. Her lovely notion of a typewriter as a repository of secrets and dreams is finely rendered, and she imbues Olivetti’s heavy steel case and clackity keys with compassion and determination. This heartfelt tale movingly explores the beauty and importance of communication—whatever form it may come in—while encouraging readers to welcome the singular joy of finding kindred spirits in unexpected places.

Trending Reviews

Get the Book



By Allie Millington
Feiwel & Friends
ISBN 9781250326935

Sign Up

Stay on top of new releases: Sign up for our newsletter to receive reading recommendations in your favorite genres.