My Book Club is reading Together Tea by Marjan Kamali for our May meeting. I wasn't terribly enthused when the moderator for May gave us each a copy. We've read several Middle Eastern immigrant themed books in the past. I was feeling like I'd had my fill but being the obedient child my parents raised, I took the book with me on our trip to the Texas Hill Country a couple weeks ago.
I had plenty of time to read in the car on the way but chose to catch up on magazines instead. I had time each evening before bedtime to open the book and begin reading, but I watched TV instead. Finally, on the final day of our journey back home, I opened the book and began to read. I could delay no longer.
I was pleasantly surprised when the author drew me in from the very first pages. Marjan Kamali has done very well with her debut novel. She writes from her heart and, in doing so, she touches the hearts of her readers. I certainly felt that way and I'm betting a good many other readers would feel the same. Besides that, she had me close to laughing out loud at times.
The story is about an Iranian family that emigrates from Iran to the USA when life in Iran has become filled with tension and fear. Mina, the youngest child, grows up more American than Iranian. By the time Mina is in graduate school, her mother, Darya, spends her time looking for the perfect husband for Mina--an Iranian man, of course. Darya would consider nothing else. Her spreadsheets on the possible candidates are famous within the family, but after one last disastrous attempt to find Mr. Right for Mina, Darya must reconsider.
Mother and daughter find themselves at odds over many things. Mina is in the school of Business working toward her master's degree but she's a reluctant student. Art is her passion. Her mother, too, has a passion--math! Darya cannot understand Mina's desire to become a professional artisit. Unthinkable!
Mina has a two week winter break and comes up with a plan to visit Iran, the place she spent the first ten years of her life. Her plan doesn't include her mother tagging along, but that is the way the trip will happen. The women take the trip together, learn new things about one another, view their past in a new light, and look to the future in another perspective, too.
The dialogue is witty, the relationship between mother and daughter universal in its conflict mixed with love and hope. Romance enters in for both mother and daughter in ways that find both of them struggling a bit within.
While all this is happening, the reader is treated to the sights and sounds of Iran, the double life most Iranian people live, the Perisan influence that stays with the immigrants. The story is filled with warmth, humor and wit. We cheer for both mother and daughter as the stoy unfolds and are left feeling that mothers and daughters the world around are more alike than different.
I'm looking forward to our discussion of the book next week. It was a great read, despite my reluctance to get started. It was the perfect book for our group to discuss so close to Mother's Day. Read more about it at Amazon.