Monday, August 12, 2013

Julie's Review: Children of the Jacaranda Tree

Summary: A country divided by revolution — a people united by love...Neda is born in Tehran’s 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. In another part of the city, three-year-old Omid 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. These are the Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2011, this stunning debut novel follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some related by blood, others brought together by the tide of history that washes over 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. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an evocative portrait of three generations of men and women inspired by love and poetry, burning with idealism, chasing dreams of justice and freedom. Written in Sahar Delijani’s spellbinding prose, capturing the intimate side of revolution in a country where the weight of history is all around, it is a moving tribute to anyone who has ever answered its call.  

Review: Books about the Middle East are not something that I'm typically drawn to, besides Khaled Hosseini. Children of the Jacaranda Tree seemed interesting enough for me to dive right in. Plus the cover is stunning. Unfortunately for me the cover is where it stopped being stunning.  There wasn't one character that I got attached to during the novel. Yet all of the characters are intertwined and share similar experiences. I don't always need to get attached to enjoy the book but I do need to feel compelled to read about the characters.

There is no doubt that the Iranian people suffered at the hand of the Iran/Iraq war and then during the revolutionary years. The way in which the government treated their citizens makes me thankful for our rights here in America. It is a compelling look at a country that was ravaged by war.

There is no doubt that Ms. Delijani is a gifted with her writing technique but it was devoid of emotion. She was merely reciting a story instead of letting you feel the story. She tells her characters stories with detachment. I understand that this is somewhat autobiographical and perhaps that is why she writes with detachment because it brings back painful memories.

For me, Children of the Jacaranda Tree had a lot of potential but it fell flat.

Final Take:  3.5/5

Thanks to Diana Franco at Atria Books for my copy of the novel.



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