In January I was sent an ARC from Simon & Schuster of Sahar Delijani’s debut novel Children of the Jacaranda Tree.
Neda is born in 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. Omid, at age three, 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.
Neda, Omid, and Sheida are just three of the many unforgettable characters in Sahar Delijani’s startling debut novel, Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran, from 1983 to 2011, it follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some connected by family, others brought together by the tide of history that forces its way into 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.
I have to start by saying that I am thoroughly looking forward to any other book penned by Sahar Delijani. Her writing is clean, delicious, and addictive — she takes you to a place filled with turmoil and pain and showers you with an immense amount of love. The characters are real, complex, and so full of emotion that I was sad to let them go.
There are so many lessons to learn from this book, so many times I wondered how people actually go through such horrific events and stay brave. There were so many times my heart ached and wondered if I would ever be brave enough to fight for my beliefs. There were so many times I felt thankful for not having to go through what the characters in the novel did. The thing about novels revolving around historical events is that the reality hits you smack in the face, punches you right in the gut, leaves you a little winded and breathless, Children of the Jacaranda Tree did that and so much more.
I’m a little sad that I can’t share any quotes from the book with you but I urge you to pick up a copy of this book and get lost in the great writing, the wonderful characters, and the beautiful sentiment behind the story.
** The synopsis is from the Simon & Schuster website ** ** The title of this post is an indirect quote from page 113 of the novel **