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Summary and book reviews of Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani

Children of the Jacaranda Tree

by Sahar Delijani

Children of the Jacaranda Tree
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  • First Published:
    Jun 2013, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jun 2014, 288 pages

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Book Summary

A stunning debut novel set in post-Revolutionary Iran that gives voice to the men, women, and children who won a war only to find their lives–and those of their descendants - imperiled by its aftermath.

We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time. Neda is born in Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of a guard appear at the cell door one day and, simply, take her away. Omid, at age three, witnesses the arrests of his political activist parents from his perch at their kitchen table, yogurt dripping from his fingertips. More than twenty years after the violent, bloody purge that took place inside Tehran's prisons, Sheida learns that her father was one of those executed, that the silent void firmly planted between her and her mother all these years was not just the sad loss that comes with death, but the anguish and the horror of murder.

Neda, Omid, and Sheida are just three of the many unforgettable characters in Sahar Delijani's startling debut novel, Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran, from 1983 to 2011, it follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some connected by family, others brought together by the tide of history that forces its way into their lives. Finally, years later, it is the next generation that is left with the burden of the past and their country's tenuous future as a new wave of protest and political strife begins.

Based on the harrowing experiences of Delijani, her family, and friends, Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a moving, timely drama about three generations of men and women moved by love, inspired by poetry, and motivated by dreams of justice and freedom. For fans of The Kite Runner and In the Shadow of the Banyan, it is a stunningly evocative look at the intimate side of revolution and a brilliant tribute to anyone who has answered the call of history.

1983
Evin Prison, Tehran

Azar sat on the corrugated iron floor of a van, huddled against the wall. The undulating street made the car sway from side to side, swinging her this way and that. With her free hand, she clasped on to something that felt like a railing. The other hand lay on her hard, bulging belly, which contracted and strained, making her breathing choppy, irregular. A heat wave of pain spouted from somewhere in her backbone and burst through her body. Azar gasped, seizing the chador wrapped around her, gripping so hard that her knuckles turned white. With every turn, she was thrashed against the walls. With every bump and pothole, her body was sent fl ying toward the ceiling, the child in her belly rigid, cringing. The blindfold over her eyes was damp with sweat.

She lifted a hand and wiped the moisture from her eyes. She dared not remove the blindfold, even though there was no one with her in the back of the van. But she knew there was a window behind her. She had felt...

Please be aware that this discussion guide may contain spoilers!
From Simon & Schuster: This reading group guide for Children of the Jacaranda Tree includes an introduction, discussion questions, and ideas for enhancing your book club. The suggested questions are intended to help your reading group find new and interesting angles and topics for your discussion. We hope that these ideas will enrich your conversation and increase your enjoyment of the book.

Introduction

Set in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2011, Children of the Jacaranda Tree follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers whose lives are forever changed by the Iranian Revolution and its aftermath.

  1. Delijani's gorgeous novel is based, at least partially, on the author's own experiences - she was born...
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Reviews

BookBrowse

Only rarely have I experienced in a book such pain and horror while at the same time experiencing such beautiful writing. Sahar Delijani has written a novelized version of 3 generations of her family in Tehran, Iran. Past and present are intertwined in extremely moving and vivid prose. I can only be grateful that writers such as Sarah Delijani are brave enough to enlighten me of the horrors that exist in so many places (Toby S.)   (Reviewed by BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers).

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Media Reviews
Library Journal

This moving novel about survival, exile, and hope is worth reading, but the reader may get lost among all the details.

Kirkus Reviews

Delijani falls back on her family's personal experience to write this searing and somber slice-of-life novel, centered around children whose parents were singled out for persecution by the Iranian government, and scores a win with her grittiness and uncompromising realism.

Booklist

Filled with compelling characters and poetic language, this beautiful and poignant novel highlights the unbreakable bond between parent and child, and a people's passionate dedication to their homeland, despite its many flaws.

Publishers Weekly

Heartbreakingly heroic.

Author Blurb Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns
Set in post-revolutionary Iran, Delijanis gripping novel is a blistering indictment of tyranny, a poignant tribute to those who bear the scars of it, and a celebration of the human hearts eternal yearning for freedom.

Author Blurb Abigail Tarttelin, author of Golden Boy
This deeply personal account of the rich, lustrous tapestry of life, family, love and searing loss amid the Iranian revolution moved me to tears more than once. Like the characters of Children Of The Jacaranda Tree, Delijani herself is a revolutionary: a fiercely brave, beautiful and unflinching new voice.

Reader Reviews
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 ...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

Joe S. (Port Orange, FL)

Wow!
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'...   Read More

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 ...   Read More

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Evin Prison

Children of the Jacaranda Tree plants its story firmly in the tumultuous landscape of Iran in the 1970s and '80s. The Shah was overthrown in the late 1970s, and political activists were full of hope for a new kind of Iran. But it was to be a fleeting hope. The new Islamic Republic of Iran threw dissenters in prison, charging them with anti-government activities. Then, in 1988, they executed many of them.

Sahar Delijani, author of Children of the Jacaranda Tree, was born in Evin prison in Tehran, Iran's capital city, in 1983. Her parents had been among the many working to overthrow the monarchy. They were secularists who wanted and hoped for a secular republic, but instead the Islamic fundamentalists grabbed complete power and Iran ...

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