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Interesting but Disappointing
I found this book to be both enormously interesting and vastly disjointed. It was difficult to follow the characters and time lines. Characters came and went with alarming frequency. Time jumped back and forth from the early days of the Iranian Revolution to the present with stops in the middle.
Mary O. (Boston, MA)
Heart and soul
My attention was immediately captured in the first few paragraphs, but then the next chapter moved to another time and place with new characters and I was left lost and wondering. Perhaps this was the author’s intention as those same disjointed feelings were evident in each of the (many) characters.
Delijani captures the sense of loss and “disconnectedness” the characters felt as their lives were disrupted, ended and changed from moment to moment with no clear resolution in sight. The descriptions are lovely. The characters are generally well drawn. Situations are rendered in often harrowing clarity. However, I had a hard time with the younger generation. I couldn’t remember who the parents were or what had happened to them or worse, if I had even “met” them before.
I wish I could say I liked this book and give it 5 stars. I wanted to..…but….. The book needs a list of characters with notes to their relationships. A glossary would help, for example, a “manteau” was defined as a “medieval garment like a coat” in my dictionary, I’m still not clear on what kind of garment was meant.
I read this on an e-reader – perhaps not the best choice for this book. But thank you Net Galley who provided the book in exchange for this review.
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.
Debbie L. (Houston, TX)
Children of the Jacaranda Tree
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.
Sahar Delijani's book was obviously written with the heart and experience of a generation that has been affected by the Iranian Cultural Revolution. In that light, the story was interesting in showing how the infants and children of the 1980s have been forever changed and are still coping with with the fervor and sacrifices of their parents and grandparents. However, the first half of the book was confusing and disjointed as the story moved from through families and events even with the guidelines of the dates.
Laurie B. (Jacksonville, FL)
Well done, not a light read
Powerful story with interesting characters. Among other things demonstrates how we are more alike than different despite vastly different geographic and social settings. I would recommend this book.
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.
Vicki O. (Boston, MA)
Better than average - a 3.5
Set in Post Revolutionary Iran, "Children of the Jacaranda Tree," presents an extraordinary though disturbing picture of the interconnected lives of a group of characters. The more I read, the more I wondered whether the material would have been better suited to a collection of short stories. The writing is compelling and graphic. The novel's weakness is its loose plot which never grabbed my attention even though I found each character's story engrossing.