Nina's Reading Blog

Comments on books I am reading/listening to

Archive for April 6th, 2015

Together Tea

Posted by nliakos on April 6, 2015

by Marjan Kamali (Harper Collins 2013; ISBN 978-0-06-223680-7)

Together Tea is the story of Mina, who immigrated to the U.S. as a young girl with her family fleeing the Iran-Iraq war and the oppressions of the Islamic regime in Iran, and her mother Darya. The reader is privy to the points of view of both women–perhaps more of Mina; chapters do not alternate from one to the other, but you definitely get inside both their minds. This is what makes reading novels so enchanting, isn’t it? Readers can experience through the characters of a novel what they could never actually experience firsthand. In Part 1 (1996), I experienced Mina’s feeling of perching on a hyphen between Iranian and America, as well as Darya’s realization that she will never truly feel that America is her home; then in Part 2 (1978), I lived the life of a young girl in Iran as the Islamic Revolution transformed the life of the country and of everyone in it–and the terror of war as Saddam’s bombs rained down and the day approached when Mina’s older brothers would undoubtedly be forced to join the fighting. In Part 3 (1996), Mina and Darya go back to Iran for a visit, and Darya comes alive in a way Mina cannot remember her mother as being, while Mina experiences severe reverse culture shock but reconnects with her Iranian family and her best friend Bita and encounters a young man who can truly understand her because he has lived through the same things that she has. Darya is finally able to achieve some distance between Mina and herself, and Mina is finally able to do what Darya kept pushing her to do while also fulfilling her own dream of being an artist. It’s a feel-good book all around.

There is a lot of Persian culture described here: foods, the clothing, the custom of tarof (declining offers many times before accepting them), the dancing, courting and wedding customs, and more. Fascinating! I wish they had included a glossary, though. (Farsi words and sentences are usually, but not always, translated by following English.)

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