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In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari

In the Time of Our History

by Susanne Pari
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  • Jan 2023
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There are currently 41 reader reviews for In the Time of Our History
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Power Reviewer
Anthony Conty

A Culturally Significant Page-Turner
“In the Time of Our History” by Susanne Pari shows what happened when two Iranian-American sisters followed entirely different paths. Literature does not always allow those from Iran their humanity. When one woman suffers an untimely death, her family unites for the “One Year,” an Iranian tradition meant to commemorate death. America in 1998 serves as our confused, transitioning backdrop.

The best books simultaneously make you experience something new and cause you to nod with recognition. Imagine returning to a city you left behind to mourn the same person. Picture a father who disowns his other daughter and cuts his child out of family pictures to drive his point home. These are typically Iranian events only Pari could have created.

I would argue that the first 100 pages are slow, but things start happening quickly after that. I cared enough about Mitra to root against some cliches happening. She has a good but unsatisfying relationship, and her decision not to have kids follows her in all her interactions. Gender roles in her society greatly influence what happens to her.

I spoke about spoilers the other day and stuck to my rule of not revealing anything that happens after the halfway point of the novel. I will say that cultures like Iranians that Americans do not fully understand will handle things as a tragedy when we do not see it that way. We do not need to agree to show empathy.

The issues raised (patriarchy, apostasy, tradition, gender rules) have existed in books before but not so convincingly. Mitra does nothing that we consider outlandish, but Iran begs to differ. Seeing how different people confront these questionable traditions makes this novel unique. It shows that the choice to question and refuse to question defines the lives of frustrated women in Iran.
Molly Agrimson

In the Time of Our History
Susanne Pari paints a poignant, yet resilient, picture of the Jahani family in this novel. Her writing is comprehensive and beautiful, and evokes a tangible understanding of Iranian American life. I had not previously heard of the author before, but I was intrigued by her insightful narration and master storytelling. This book is perfect for readers who are fans of gorgeous prose and/or immigration history.
Windell H. (Rock Hill, SC)

In the time of our history
A well written story of a family challenges on many fronts.
It shows us how difficult it is keep the past and present in sync. With the cultural differences life has a way of showing up no matter where you are. This story shows us that families are fragile and work must be done to keep them together.
Mitzi K. (Cumming, GA)

Beautiful and Powerful Prose
In the Time of Our History by Susanne Pari is the story of the Jahani family adapting to life in the United States after the 1979 Iranian Revolution. Shireen is the dutiful, obedient wife dominated by her overbearing husband. Mitra is a rebellious first generation American daughter fleeing the expectations of her father and is struggling to find her identity after her sister's tragic death. The book explores generational and cultural differences in immigrant communities. The characters are flawed and well developed. The story is raw and hopeful, and the characters feel authentic as they experience challenging circumstances. They deal with grief, infidelity, trauma, and sponsorship. They also struggle with class, political, and cultural barriers. This book reminds me of the plight of immigrants suspended between two worlds and belonging to neither.

In the Time of Our History would be a timely book club pick with the current events in Iran. I felt entertained and informed as I read the beautiful and powerful prose. I highly recommend this one!
Power Reviewer
Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL)

Cultural Clashes
Wonderful and thoughtful book about cultural clashes and relationships of parents and children. Highly recommend.
Power Reviewer
Betty T. (Warner Robins, GA)

Well-written Family Saga
Beautifully written and thought-provoking.

I always find myself drawn to stories from the Middle East. Having had friends displaced during the Iranian Revolution, I found this story especially interesting. This story centers on the Iranian-born Jahani family and their extended family who fled Iran for America after the fall of the Shah in 1979. The setting for the Jahani family is San Francisco and New Jersey in the late 1990s.

It took a while for me to really get into this story, but once I reached that point, I became totally immersed in this family saga with its generational culture clashes and their conflict that centered on long-held secrets.

Through her masterful writing, Pari brought these characters to life. The father was stiff and domineering; Shireen, the mother, caught between her love for her children and the demands of her husband; sweet Ana who did what was expected by her father; and the rebellious Mitra ("a girl who wanted to be as free as a boy in choosing her future"). The emotions flowed from the pages into my heart, especially the shame, the pain, the frustrations, and the anger.

I liked how the family worked to find a blend between their new American home and their rich Persian culture, something all immigrant families encounter. This entire story is, in fact, based on the Iranian custom of "The One Year" which is the observance of the one-year anniversary of a death.
Arden A. (Longboat Key, FL)

Cultural Pitfalls
This was an excellent book depicting the trials and tribulations of an Irani family that immigrated to the United states, California and New Jersey, in the late 1990s. The cultural differences that occur in one family when the parents are from one country with strict traditions, and the children are born, or mostly raised, in this country, where those traditions are not appreciated or understood, present many possible areas of conflict and misunderstanding and stubbornness that lead to so much unnecessary family turmoil and heartbreak. Susanne Pari's novel describes these conflicts in a smooth flowing story delving deep into the minds of each of the characters, Mother, Father, Daughters, nephews, nannies from the old country. This is a beautifully told story and one I highly recommend.
Patricia S. (Lake Wylie, SC)

In the Time of Our History
Susanne Pari successfully captures the dynamics of relationships in an immigrant family facing generational cultural clashes, traumatic experiences, long-held secrets, and differing personalities. The characters are well-crafted and relatable, although not always likable - but that is to be expected in a realistic portrayal of family interactions. I thoroughly enjoyed the book and will definitely recommend it to others when it is released.

Beyond the Book:
  Iranian Americans

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