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Half a Cup of Sand and Sky

by Nadine Bjursten

Half a Cup of Sand and Sky by Nadine Bjursten X
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky by Nadine Bjursten
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  • Published Oct 2023
    402 pages
    Genre: Literary Fiction

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There are currently 7 reader reviews for Half a Cup of Sand and Sky
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Katarina T

An accomplished debut about politics and family
Half a Cup of Sand and Sky begins in Iran in the year leading up to the 1978 revolution and ends twenty years later in southern Sweden. It is the story of Amineh who becomes politically aware, marries a prominent nuclear disarmament activist and raises a family in Teheran where she is able to express her love of family and friends through her cooking. The author's descriptions of place, sounds and smells are beautifully rendered. Her deep knowledge of Iran, nuclear disarmament politics and sufism is apparent. After having arrived in Sweden, where she has finally found true love, Amineh is able to complete the novel she has been working on over the years, a lovely parallel to Nadine Bjursten's own journey.

Love & Commitment
I am reviewing the book, but I am also recommending it for my book club. Although described as a love story—and love is entwined –the strength of the story is commitment. The commitment may be to another person, to a cause with deep belief, to one’s ethics and/or morals or to doing what one thinks is right. Amineh and Farzad struggle with these issues.

The characters are believable with concerns that can be easily shared. Although Amineh lives in various countries, some of which demand strict obedience to stringent rules, the strengths of the characters and storyline dwell on the people and not the politics. As a reader I am aware of gender problems but not overridden with them. Amineh's husband, Farzad, brings the personal safety of political beliefs into their home. Family and friends are interesting additions and help Amineh find and become the woman she would like to be.

The author’s style enhances the novel; easy to follow and to read. My favorite passage is the second full paragraph on page 108. The description of how Mahasti made others feel would be a perfect personal attribute.
Donna C

Choices Make All The Difference
I was immediately drawn in by the first paragraph in chapter 1 - a young woman making a choice - and the choices she makes continue throughout the whole book, just as they do for all of us during our whole lives.

Though this story revolves around an Iranian woman's choices within the historical time of political and societal upheaval in her country, there are many parallels to others, in other countries, including our own. This particular historical journey takes us through some of the history of nuclear power, weapons and the fight for nuclear disarmament in the 70s-90s, which provides the backdrop to the protagonist's choices within her marriage & mothering, friendships, career goals, wishes and dreams.

I found the book to be a wonderful fusion of love & marriage, family, personal growth, social change, and historical background. I learned more about the Iranian people (and their cooking), the global politics of disarmament, and how both familial and societal expectations are ever present in the choices we make wherever we are in this world.

For me, Half a Cup of Sand and Sky was a magnificent and well-written read!
Bill Brown

Tough Love
I enjoyed reading this novel. The author delineated the life of an Iranian woman who was in an unhappy marriage until the right guy showed. Amineh's life with Patrik is not spelled out though. The writer skips ten years in the relationship. I suppose she was tiring of the plot.
Janine S

Captivating read
I was given this book in order to participate in a March 2024 on-line book discussion. And, I am so honored to have received it because this is a beautiful, captivating and well written book that deals with themes of love, purpose, and self-discovery set during the period of political upheaval in Iran as well as tackling the subject of nuclear proliferation. This is pretty heavy stuff, but the author handles it beautifully and, in the process, we are treated to an extraordinary story of one woman's coming of age in these turbulent times.

Spanning the years between 1977-2009, the book follows Amineh, a young Iranian woman who has come to Tehran to pursue a literature degree with the end goal of writing a book about her parents, meeting Farzah, an older man involved in the Iranian government's nuclear energy department and who leads a group of international men and women seeking to stop nuclear weapons production and expansion. Amineh and Farzah's journey as a couple is portrayed realistically. Their friends and family (Jalalod-Din (he was a wonderful character), Ava, Dariush, Patrik and Ariav) give the story great depth and enrich the story of these two characters. As the story is woven, I was drawn into the lives of these people, experiencing their "real" joys, pains, uneasy choices they had to make but believing in the hope of a better future.

I also especially loved the description of the food Amineh made - you could almost smell the aromas that must have wafted off the delicious food. Then there are the descriptions of the garden in Amineh's home, the forest around Patrik's home in Sweden, which for me at least were some additional enjoyable moments. But even the times when there were intense discussions about nuclear proliferation were captivating. You become engrossed in this story to the point you cannot put the book down. In the author's Postscript, she shares that when she worked in Washington D.C. during the Bush (43) administration, she could find no literature on Iran that painted a positive view of this country or its culture, writing "A single story cements our perception of the others." Hence this book can be seen as an attempt to create a different perception - which I believe she admirably achieved. This is a stellar book about love, hope, forgiveness, and healing. Highly recommend.

An Internal Perspective
I graduated from a midwestern high school in 1977. The events that are discussed in this book were familiar to me, but as an American getting my information from local and national new stations. Ms Bjursten took me inside Iran and through a time of turmoil as it happened inside a conflicted and war torn society. I appreciate the nods to every day life and comforts, the display of love through food cooked in the home that is so different from the food cooked my home, and the overriding nuances of self-worth and worthiness. This story shows us our differences as a culture, but also shows us our very personal similarities. It is a story of family, political unrest and the cost of activism.
Toby Jill Galinkin

Portrait of a Revolution
Good sense of Iran in the 1970s and henceforth from the perspective of an intelligent young woman. Reveals much about the country I knew nothing the roses..A good read..I did find a little lag throughout but worth reading
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