Sunday, June 30, 2013
Together Tea by Marjan Kamali
Published: May 2013 by HarperCollins Publishers
Source: my copy courtesy of the publisher and TLC Book Tours in exchange for this review
Darya has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter's twenty-fifth birthday: an ideal husband. Mina, however, is fed up with her mother's endless matchmaking and grading of available Iranian American bachelors.
After Darya's last ill-fated attempt to find Mina a husband, mother and daughter embark on a journey to Iran, where the two women gradually begin to understand each other. But after Mina falls for a young man who never appeared on her mother's spreadsheets and Darya is tempted by an American musician, will this mother and daughter's tender appreciation for each other survive?
For the first 88 pages of this book, I felt like I was reading chick lit, Persian style. Not necessarily what I was expecting (because, once again, I didn't remember what the book was about by the time I picked it up, I only remembered it had to do with Iran). But then, it's summer, so I figured something light would be just fine.
Then Mina and Darya return to Iran. Being back in Tehran brings memories washing over Mina, what it was like growing up in Iran under the Shah and through the revolution to the time Mina and her family were forced to flee Iran to protect her brothers from service in the war against Saddam Hussein.
You all know how much I enjoy books set in the Middle East so you're probably not surprised to learn that I really enjoyed the parts of this book set in Iran. I also enjoyed Kamali's exploration of the immigrant experience, looking at how people who immigrate might find themselves feeling like they have no place to call home any longer. Even after fifteen years, both Darya and Mina find they can't entirely feel at home in the United States. They miss family, foods, history and traditions. But when they return to Iran, they find they miss the freedom and opportunities they have left behind.
Eventually, Kamali brings readers back to the romance element of the book but by then I'd become interested enough in ethnic lessons I was learning to be able to go with the flow. Also, she had me so ready to head down to the Persian restaurant and I'm willing to forgive most flaws in a book if you've got me completely distracted by delicious sounding food!
check out the full tour.
Marjan Kamali has an MFA in creative writing from New York University and an MBA from Columbia University. Her work has been a top finalist in Glimmer Train’s Fiction Open and the Asian American Short Story Contest. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and their two children. Visit Marjan at her website. You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter.