Sherrie R. (Fort Worth, TX)
Fascinating book, riveting reading
I was intrigued to read a story by an Iranian author whose family lived in Iran during the 1983 revolution. She tells a vivid and enduring story how it affected so many lives through the years.
From the harrowing beginning when Azar was being taken to the hospital to have her baby, I completely immersed myself in this book and all its characters. The writing was so descriptive that I felt like I was right there "in the moment." Each woman's story unfolded in time sequences from 1983, 1987- then 2009/2010.
There were so many places where she included phrases that to me perfectly captured the essence of what that character was thinking and feeling.
I LOVED IT!
Alyce T. (San Antonio, TX)
Children Of the Jacaranda Tree
This book to me was a collection of loosely joined short stories. The characters did not come alive . I did not feel like I really got to know anyone. The other problem that I had reading it was what seemed to be awkward descriptions throughout the book. On the plus side, Delijani proytrayed the times well. It was very informative and the stories needed to be told. I do feel a lot of sympathy for her and her family and friends from whom these were drawn. It would cause a lot of discussions in book clubs. Yes, I would recommend it. I really liked the last chapter. That was when I started feeling involved.
Celia A. (Takoma Park, MD)
Children of the Jacaranda Tree
This book follows two generations of Iranians--those who were young adults at the time of the revolution and their children. The book bounces around in time, and the best developed chapters are those set in the prisons during the parents' generation. While I was glad to get to read about a bit of modern history from an unfamiliar perspective, I found that there were just too many characters to keep straight. I wanted to construct a family tree so that I could keep straight which parents went with with children, but I'm not sure that would have helped. There seemed to be very little narrative arc carrying the book forward. Instead, the chapters seemed very disconnected. Most confusingly, the author kept introducing major characters right up to the end. I was disappointed in a book that I had great hopes for. I think I would have liked it more had it been written as a set of loosely connected short stories.
Patricia S. (New Canaan, CT)
Touches your soul
Many stories have been written of a political nature of life in Iraq under Saddam Hussein, but the author has captured, with great emotion, the generations of the families affected in the neighboring country of Iran, whose lives were never the same. Painful lives, full of memories, lies, half truths and untold secrets as they fought for a better life, and then again as history repeated itself in Tehran.
The author's prose is more like poetry, wonderfully descriptive, yet so heart breaking at times. From the sadistic Evin prison to the family courtyard where the jacaranda tree bloomed with its beautiful scent, from political activists throughout 3 generations to political refugees, Sahar Delijani has brought them alive through her poetic words more evocatively than any movie could. As Sahar wrote, "Poetry is poetry only when it reveals the depth of your soul" and as such, she's left her soul on every page. This story touched my soul.
Meredith K. (HACKENSACK, NJ)
What an interesting book
Children of The Jacarandra Tree was one of the best books I have ever read. We have heard over a long period of time how the long battles in Iran have taken a toll on the country but this book tells us about it's people.
The book describes dissidents who were picked up, blindfolded and led out of their homes as there families watched, It took us to the jails where squalor and torture were everyday events. Some of the lucky prisioners were released after long prison terms to families whose very own children didn't recognize them.
This book was very painful to read because of it's harsh subject matter but it was very well written and will stay with you for a long time.
Darlene C. (Simpsonville, SC)
Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
I found this book difficult to read. I think it was because the characters (of which there were many) were not fully developed enough for me to create a memorable mental image of them. Therefore I found myself flipping back and forth to find out who was who and how they related to the others. I had a similar problem with the passage of time. The writing itself was well done but perhaps more focus on less characters would have made it more readable for me. I'm sorry, but for me this was an "I have to finish it because I have to review it book".
Lola M. (BOISE, ID)
Reading Children of the Jacaranda Tree was what it must feel like to endlessly drown - in sorrow, fear, helplessness, similes and the over careful parceling out of emotions. It was like being tumbled over and under a roaring river of barely suppressed screams in a hurt-your-eyes hard light land. An overwhelming onslaught of terror, bitterness, loss, and confusion. The words wouldn't let up, wouldn't stop coming … even when I was begging them to stop.
How does one comfort children without mothers, and fathers staring into the face of death, but still surprised when it cuts them? How does one help women who sacrifice who they are for what someone else believes? The reader cannot and suffers for it.
While what this book brings to the table is real, reading page after page of beautifully written hell is very difficult to stick with. There is such a fierce push of adjectives and metaphors with no room to breathe. In reading there is no hope - except for that which is stingily and often painfully measured out by a people so suffocated, so cowed by their circumstances that I want to end their misery for them.
The stories draw everything out of the reader even when hearts glow and the human spirit attempts to rise. There is never triumph, never the knowledge that there will be healing and time for new, more gorgeous memories to be birthed in the lifetimes of the characters - even those who escape for a time. Lives either imploded or just expired and I had to live every one of them.
I am blessed to have the choice to close this book and be grateful for my mundane, even slightly boring life where I have the freedom to live where I do.
If this is the type of book a reader is drawn to, they will be in heaven.