Mary O. (Boston, MA)
Heart and soul
My favorite books are typically debut novels and this one captured my heart. Beautifully written in a poetic sense showing the depth of Sahar's soul and spirit. It describes post revolutionary Iran through the eyes of 3 characters with past and present intertwined. Highly emotional, both sad and uplifting, at times heartbreaking, but you come away feeling the resiliency of the characters and a true sense of hope. I highly recommend that all read this!
Christopher R. (Brooklyn, NY)
united by loss
I was very lucky and grateful to receive this book via First Impressions. It does an excellent job of showing how individuals can be brought together by shared tragic family histories. It is effective at showing how the life of the offspring can be shaped by the unresolved nature of a parent's passing. The novel felt extremely real throughout and does a great job at providing just enough information for those who may not be familiar with this part of Iran's history. The reactions of the characters to the many revelations of the book never feel forced and are always organic.
My favorite story arc was that of Sheida and her mother. It felt most complete and rewarding to me. The book switches between different time frames and characters effectively. It was a quick read despite the depth of the subject matter. There are similarities here to another book I love: Kiran Desai's "The Inheritance of loss." Even though Kiran Desai's book deals more with the loss of cultural identity in a post-colonial country, both books show how the lives of progeny are affected by their parent's past. I will say that there are a few moments that were tough to read because of their violent nature. I felt these depictions were necessary given the subject matter and the violence in the book never feels trivialized nor gratuitous. In conclusion, Sahar Delijani has delivered a hearfelt, engrossing novel that will stay in the minds of the readers for a long time to come.
Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)
Wow! That's the only word I could use to explain how I felt when I finished reading this book. It is a well written, thoughtful, and moving story that, for me, was very hard to put down. It is not a "cozy" read but a powerful narrative of the horror's and sadness that affect both children and adults who are caught up in a country's political unrest. I loved it.
Shirin M. (BEVERLY HILLS, CA)
Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani
Delijani's debut novel spans two generations of Iranians dealing with a revolution that evolves as they dream and fight for a better life. Each chapter is a short story in itself linked by torturous prisons, family, friendship, and the hopes and dreams of men and women determined to find a better way for their country. The first and last chapters are inexorably linked and it is only the reader who is aware of the tenuous connection. Clear, unsentimental prose and well defined characters bring to life a country and civilization that has been in turmoil for over thirty years. Readers who enjoy short stories and those interested in contemporary events will appreciate this book. This book is a welcome addition to any public or large academic library.
Rayna T. (Auburn, CA)
Children of the Jacaranda Tree
This a very emotional book. I have had to put it down many times and go back to it. How these people lived through this is unbelievable. I don't believe that we in the United States have any comprehension that the atrocities were inflicted on average people fighting for their rights.
Her writing is so descriptive that it was like poetry. I will definitely pass it on to all my reading friends, those in my Book Club as well as others.
Lea Ann M. (Seattle, WA)
Children f the Jacaranda Tree
What an intriguing book! As I read the first few chapters, I must admit that I was a bit confused by the format, but even more by the unfamiliar names of the characters. But, as I read more, I became engrossed in the story and in the horror experienced by the citizens of Iran as they were imprisoned, tortured, killed for disagreeing with the regime in power at any one particular time. The characters were three dimensional, not stereotypes, but persons whom I might have know, who could have been family, co-workers, neighbors, friends. This is a book which not only entertains, but teaches about a culture very different from that in the United States. The biggest lesson, in my opinion, is that the citizens of Iran, for the most part, are like us in wanting lives that are meaningful, happy and that hold a promising future for their children, but who often find those goals unobtainable. As our nations clash, this book helps us to have empathy for the citizens of Iran and for us to hope that in some way they can understand those of us who are the "ordinary" citizens of the USA. A book well worth reading.
Amber B. (East Sparta, OH)
The most significant aspect of this excellent novel for me was the incredible sense of voice that each of Delijani's characters possess - particularly the rarely expressed voices of the women and children. (Omid...age 3... watching his parents being arrested whilst yogurt drips from his fingertips...)
This book opened my eyes to Iran the way that Hosseini's Kite Runner & A Thousand Splendid Suns opened my eyes to various voices in Afghanistan. While it is a difficult read, the imagery of the tree is powerful - each branch connected, each telling a story that is different and yet part of a whole