Together Tea by Marjan Kamali (migrated from bookblogger)

Mina is in business school and only fantasizing about being able to pursue art, just as a good Iranian-American girl should be.  Her mother, Darya, is looking for a husband for Mina, as a good Iranian-American mother should be doing.  They are each struggling with their identities after growing up in Iran and having lived through the Iranian Revolution in the 70’s.  The family had fled Iran in fear at that dark time, but particularly Darya had held on to the idea that the Revolution would be a temporary state and they’d return one day to their home.  When they were still there 15 years later, it almost felt like a shock that they were actually Americans at this point.  After the most recent disastrous attempt at a matchmaking, Mina finally reaches a turning point in her life and suddenly, she needs to return to her roots.  And suddenly at that point, Darya decides she needs to go with her.  The two of them don their hair coverings and the traditional covering for their whole bodies, and fly home to visit their family and friends Iran.  What they learn there changes their lives.

This book gave the reader a great understanding of the turmoil and trauma that occurred in Iran in the 70’s when the Islamic fundamentalists gained control over what was a very colorful, even progressive culture.  The institutionalized suppression particularly of women is very apparent in this story, where women who very clearly are smart and work in professional capacities cannot even go out by themselves and are kept closeted.

Unfortunately, I think the actual writing in the book is weak.  The story is never surprising and remains entirely predictable.  Analogies are tired and trite and there is no poetry in the words here even where the author is trying to portray the cultural beauty that is suppressed.  It is unfortunate because the idea of the book is great – it is just never taken to where it should’ve gone.  A disappointing rendition of a good idea…


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