A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea: Book summary and reviews of A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea

A Novel

By Dina Nayeri

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea
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  • Published in USA  Jan 2013,
    432 pages.

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Book Summary

Growing up in a small rice-farming village in 1980s Iran, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are captivated by America. They keep lists of English words and collect illegal Life magazines, television shows, and rock music. So when her mother and sister disappear, leaving Saba and her father alone in Iran, Saba is certain that they have moved to America without her. But her parents have taught her that "all fate is written in the blood," and that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. As she grows up in the warmth and community of her local village, falls in and out of love, and struggles with the limited possibilities in post-revolutionary Iran, Saba envisions that there is another way for her story to unfold. Somewhere, it must be that her sister is living the Western version of this life. And where Saba's world has all the grit and brutality of real life under the new Islamic regime, her sister's experience gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.

Filled with a colorful cast of characters and presented in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with modern Western prose, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a tale about memory and the importance of controlling one's own fate.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"From the imprint that brought you Khaled Hosseini's The Kite Runner; the sort of embracing and embraceable culturally far-reaching fiction Riverhead does best." - Library Journal

"Lyrical, humane and hopeful; a welcome view of the complexities of small-town life, in this case in a place that inspires fear instead of sympathy." - Kirkus

"Nayeri crams so much into her story, especially Saba's distracting fiction of her sister's life in the United States, that her lyrical evocation of a vanishing Iran gets lost in an irritating narrative tangle." - Publishers Weekly

"Charming and engrossing, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a vivid and evocative story about the places we love, the places we long for - and the places we can only imagine." - Karen Thompson Walker, author of The Age of Miracles

"Pure magic: lyrical, captivating, funny, and heartbreaking. Entering the world of the intriguing Saba Hafezi and her friends in a seaside village in northern Iran, I lost my heart." - Jean Kwok, author of Girl in Translation

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Rated 5 of 5 of 5 by Diane
A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea
Iran, before the revolution when woman had some freedom, could attend school and many other liberties that we here in the states take for granted and after with the Mullahs and the morality police, all liberties and freedoms taken away. This is the setting for this novel, it is the story of two twin girls, their family and their neighbors and friends. When one of the twins believes her mother and sister have left for America, leaving her and her father behind, she invents stories about her sister and how her sisters life in America is playing out. Loving all things from this country, the music, the TV shows and the books, she learns as many English words as she can in the hope that one day she can go and find her sister and mother. The stories about the sister was an interesting literary device but I felt that these stories tended to go on much to often, and although I do understand the meaning behind them I feel I still would have understood if they had been shorter. I found myself skimming them. Of course life never turns out the way we plan and such was the case in this novel. I did finish this book with a pretty decent understanding of this country and its treatment of women, the story and the mystery of what really happened to her sister and mother definitely pulled me in. The characters were well rounded and I came away with the feeling that I knew them and wanted things to go well for them. This was a good book, excellent for a first novel and I look forward to reading many more from this author.

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Dina Nayeri was born in Tehran during the revolution and immigrated to Oklahoma at ten years old. She has a BA from Princeton and a Master of Education and MBA from Harvard. She is a Truman Capote Fellow and a Teaching Writing Fellow at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.

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