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A stunning debut novel set in post-Revolutionary Iran that gives voice to the men, women, and children who won a war only to find their lives–and those of their descendants - imperiled by its aftermath. We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time. Neda is born in Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of A stunning debut novel set in post-Revolutionary Iran that gives voice to the men, women, and children who won a war only to find their lives–and those of their descendants - imperiled by its aftermath. We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time. 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. Based on the harrowing experiences of Delijani, her family, and friends, Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a moving, timely drama about three generations of men and women moved by love, inspired by poetry, and motivated by dreams of justice and freedom. For fans of The Kite Runner and In the Shadow of the Banyan, it is a stunningly evocative look at the intimate side of revolution and a brilliant tribute to anyone who has answered the call of history.


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A stunning debut novel set in post-Revolutionary Iran that gives voice to the men, women, and children who won a war only to find their lives–and those of their descendants - imperiled by its aftermath. We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time. Neda is born in Evin Prison, where her mother is allowed to nurse her for a few months before the arms of A stunning debut novel set in post-Revolutionary Iran that gives voice to the men, women, and children who won a war only to find their lives–and those of their descendants - imperiled by its aftermath. We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time. 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. Based on the harrowing experiences of Delijani, her family, and friends, Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a moving, timely drama about three generations of men and women moved by love, inspired by poetry, and motivated by dreams of justice and freedom. For fans of The Kite Runner and In the Shadow of the Banyan, it is a stunningly evocative look at the intimate side of revolution and a brilliant tribute to anyone who has answered the call of history.

30 review for Children of the Jacaranda Tree

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jane

    The idea for this book is powerful. The story is about the children of those who were jailed in Iran during the revolution of the 1980's. The author herself was born in a prison in Teheran. Her uncle was executed after a long prison stay. I think that perhaps the author is too close to the events to render them as fiction. I did love the story of the aunt who raises her sisters' children. She fell in love, but gave up this love, who was fleeing the country, in order to stay and take care of thes The idea for this book is powerful. The story is about the children of those who were jailed in Iran during the revolution of the 1980's. The author herself was born in a prison in Teheran. Her uncle was executed after a long prison stay. I think that perhaps the author is too close to the events to render them as fiction. I did love the story of the aunt who raises her sisters' children. She fell in love, but gave up this love, who was fleeing the country, in order to stay and take care of these nieces and a nephew...but as I kept reading all of the children she had sacrificed her life for began to blend together. By trying to tell so many stories of so many children who have grown up under the cloud of war, and who have been separated for long periods from their parents, the novel loses focus for me. The writing itself feels overwrought. A character is "gripped with infinite grief and loneliness" when she shares the news of her grandmother's death....A cardboard box arrives in Italy. It smells of dust and memory. This is the smell of Iran, one character says....When this same character is ready to leave Italy, her husband Valerio is quiet. "Her grief and fury set alight a sense of spiritual detachment from the world. She felt estranged from the very air she breathed. She knew Valerio suffered as his attempts to bring her back to his world of diurnal struggle and nocturnal relax bounced off the misty wall of her detachment." I had tried to skim because I think the truth of the stories is important. But finally, the writing felt so awkward and trite that I stopped.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    I wanted to read this novel from almost the moment I knew of its existence. The author was born in Tehran’s Evin Prison in 1983, where her mother was a political prisoner. The work explores the life of Iranian political prisoners in the 1980s, the mass killing of leftist prisoners in 1988, the ongoing impact of imprisonment on relationships between former prisoners and their children and the cycle of dissent and oppression in Iran, with its most recent manifestation in the mass protests after th I wanted to read this novel from almost the moment I knew of its existence. The author was born in Tehran’s Evin Prison in 1983, where her mother was a political prisoner. The work explores the life of Iranian political prisoners in the 1980s, the mass killing of leftist prisoners in 1988, the ongoing impact of imprisonment on relationships between former prisoners and their children and the cycle of dissent and oppression in Iran, with its most recent manifestation in the mass protests after the 2009 presidential election. The narrative shifts back and forward in place and time and deals with a number of characters, all of whom are connected in some way to a group of women detained in Evin Prison in 1983. The novel explores some interesting themes. As a reader with a long-standing interest in Iranian history, society and culture and a familiarity with modern Iranian politics, it should have enthralled me. But it didn’t. Instead, it was profoundly disappointing and I only finished reading it because it was short and because I generally finish books I start. Part of the problem with the work is the confusing structure. Too many characters are introduced, it’s not easy to remember how all of them are related to each other and the work is too short for any of the characters to be developed in a meaningful way. While I have no problem in theory with a narrative which shifts back and forward in place and time, in this novel the effect is choppy. I suspect that the lack of flow would be an even greater problem for a reader who wasn’t familiar with the background to the narrative. However, for me the biggest problem is the writing. Delijani has potential as a storyteller and writer, but someone needs to tell her to restrain her impulse to use similes to pad out every paragraph. Not every action, experience or emotion needs to be compared to something else. The overuse of similes is particularly problematic when the images make no sense or are frankly inappropriate. An example: He had a slightly big head and rice-tray eyes that flashed back at his surroundings like a fawn on the run. As it happens, I know what a rice-tray looks like and while I haven't seen a fawn on the run, there can't be any similarity between the two. Another animal-themed example:She watches the reflections of the lights on the window, like eyes of sick pigeons staring.Huh? And what does this mean? Inside, it was if her heart had been soaked in a pond of freezing light. A sexual simile, which does not seem particularly apt:It was the most silent lovemaking they’d ever had, like the sky had landed on them. Here’s another unfortunate sexual image, describing a couple having a post-coital nap. And they fell asleep in the scent of each other’s bodies, serene , like children content, collapsing after a long day at the beach. I highlighted dozens of these strange, inappropriate or just plain nonsensical similes and the odd inane metaphor. When the language is so distractingly bad, getting lost in the story becomes impossible. I really hope that Delijani’s ability as a writer improves, because she has something to say. There were times when her writing moved me; for example, her description of a child being removed from her prisoner mother, the execution of another prisoner and the reaction of an Iranian expatriate who observed the events of 2009 on her computer screen. However, whatever Deljani has to say, in this novel she has not said it well. If and when she writes another novel, I'll be in no hurry to read it.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Marina Nemat

    Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a novel, a work of fiction, but it is based on the experiences of its author, Sahar Delijani, and her parents, who were imprisoned in Evin, a prison in Tehran, Iran, in the 80s. Thankfully, all survived the experience. Ms. Delijani was born in Evin in 1983, and, from what I could gather, spent a few months as an infant in the prison with her mother. Ms. Delijani has no memory of Evin, and, according to a Q&A on her website, her description of the prison has orig Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a novel, a work of fiction, but it is based on the experiences of its author, Sahar Delijani, and her parents, who were imprisoned in Evin, a prison in Tehran, Iran, in the 80s. Thankfully, all survived the experience. Ms. Delijani was born in Evin in 1983, and, from what I could gather, spent a few months as an infant in the prison with her mother. Ms. Delijani has no memory of Evin, and, according to a Q&A on her website, her description of the prison has originated from her parents, who, like most ex-prisoners, were too traumatized to write their own experiences. A few books have been published about Evin, but all the ones I had read, except my own, before Children of the Jacaranda Tree had been memoirs written in Farsi and published in small print runs in Europe. In the first chapter of the book, we follow Azar, a pregnant Evin inmate, who seems to be in her mid to late 20s and is in labour. It is 1983. She is a married woman and was arrested early in her pregnancy together with her husband, both members of a Marxist, anti-regime organization. In appalling conditions, two prison guards, one male and one female, drive Azar to a hospital in Tehran, where she delivers a healthy baby girl. On page 32, we finally enter Evin with Azar and her baby. The book lost me in the first chapter. The picture of Evin that Ms. Delijani paints is too vague for someone like me who has spent time there and knows it well; the narrative lacks essential information and has too many empty, unexplored spaces. For example, when Ms. Delijani tells us about Azar’s return from the hospital to her cell in the public cellblock, she writes: “The women [prisoners] had carried their excitement around with them all day. They were restless, barely able to stay put […]” This is the very first sentence in the book that describes Evin – and it left me cold. In the 80s (I was an Evin prisoner from 1982 to 1984), about 80 to 90 percent of the population of the prison in women’s cellblocks were between the ages of 14 and 20. Evin was like high school in hell. Yet, in Ms. Delijani’s narrative, we don’t meet any of these young prisoners, who, because of their age, behaved rather differently from their older cellmates. The only inmates to whom we are introduced are the older women. Evin was and is a huge compound and not everyone has the same experience of it, but there are certain facts, like the average age of Evin inmates in the 80s, which are essential and important and have nothing to do with perspective. Thousands of teenagers were tortured and executed in Evin, and we see absolutely no sign of them, as if they never existed. Such a big departure from reality cannot be overlooked, not even in a work of fiction. Another example of the lack of detail is when Ms. Delijani writes about the thinness of the prisoners and their “bony shoulders.” Yes, we were always terribly hungry in Evin, but paradoxically, most of us did not appear malnourished. One of the dominating smells of the prison was that of camphor. The very first time I put a cup of tea to my lips soon after my arrival in cellblock 246, I almost spilled it in disgust, but all my cellmates were enthusiastically sipping from their plastic cups, as if they contained the elixir of life. Camphor is sometimes used in religious ceremonies, for embalming, and in some creams and lotions, but if ingested in large quantities, it is poisonous. One of the side effects of ingesting camphor is fluid retention so that in Evin, even though we were hungry, we gained weight. My thin, long face became round in the prison, and almost all my cellmates were the same; even though we were suffering from malnourishment, we looked plump and healthy. After I was released, my parents told me that during our brief visitations, they were relieved to see that I looked well fed! On page 33, Ms. Delijani writes, “That day, even Firoozeh could not contain her happiness. Her usual nervous ranting had come to a halt. Everyone in the cell knew Firoozeh had become a Tavaab, a snitch, because she had been able to spend a night with her husband and had received a pillow softer than anyone else’s.” I read on, hoping that Ms. Delijani would say more about a term as complex as “tavaab” rather than just making a passing, casual reference, but I was disappointed. Tavaab is an Arabic word that means “repentant,” not “snitch.” Evin interrogators and prison authorities brought the word into the prison vocabulary as early as 1981. The vast majority of detainees arriving in Evin are tortured. In the 80s, virtually every prisoner except maybe pregnant and breastfeeding women, was beaten and lashed. At the age of 16, I was tied to a bare wooden bed, and an interrogator named Hamehd lashed the soles of my feet with a length of cable. The distilled, merciless pain reduced me to something I didn’t even know could exist. I was ready to sell my soul. I signed every document they gave me. According to the unwritten rules of the prison, breaking under torture meant a prisoner had become a tavaab. The interrogators forced broken inmates to confess to the righteousness of the regime, or they would keep on beating them. Unmarried girls were in danger of being raped. Turning detainees into tavaabs was a cruel project of the authorities of Evin prison in the 80s, and they went to any length to make sure it succeeded. Their main goal was to turn the prisoners against each other. Therefore not every tavaab was a snitch. A few prisoners told on others, but the majority did not. Ms. Delijani fails to tell us these important details. In Children of the Jacaranda Tree, all the characters are either pure good or pure evil. Firoozeh is introduced to us in a way that makes her morally indistinguishable from the guards who torture and kill when instead she is their victim. Ms. Delijani is her best in the chapters that are not set in Evin. These chapters are about life outside the prison and tell the stories of the families of the prisoners. This is a world she knows firsthand and understands well, so we get to see and understand it with her. I humbly believe that Children of the Jacaranda Tree would have been a much better book if Ms. Delijani had done the difficult, daunting task of researching life in Evin prison and reading the works and interviews of its survivors to gain a better understanding of it. All memoirs of Evin are not the same, and they certainly do not agree on everything, but each one of them sheds light on a small part of a complex, multilayered puzzle. Ms. Delijani is a talented writer, but, because of her lack of research, the book falls short of its potential. In a Q&A on her website when asked about the research she put into writing about Evin, Ms. Delijani says, “I didn’t want to talk to too many people so I decided to speak almost exclusively to my parents.” I wish she had gone the extra mile and had talked to more victims, survivors, and eyewitnesses.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Elsa Rajan Pradhananga

    The novel is set in a period when the triumph of the Iranian revolution of 1979 took away freedom rather than broaden it and liberals had to continue protesting, this time against the authoritative conservatism of the Islamic regime. To suppress this rebellion, clerics and militia were roped in from the poorer peripheries of the country and they exercised their new found power with an iron fist and sadism all too pleased to snatch away happiness, hopes and rights from the privileged. Ayatollah K The novel is set in a period when the triumph of the Iranian revolution of 1979 took away freedom rather than broaden it and liberals had to continue protesting, this time against the authoritative conservatism of the Islamic regime. To suppress this rebellion, clerics and militia were roped in from the poorer peripheries of the country and they exercised their new found power with an iron fist and sadism all too pleased to snatch away happiness, hopes and rights from the privileged. Ayatollah Khomeini reigned supreme and his propositions were aired and published extensively making him bigger, louder and omnipresent while those that questioned his motives or were not blown away by the propaganda stifled. The stories set in the Evin prison are heart rending to say the least. The first, of a child birth while behind bars followed by the ruthless confiscation of the infant and the second, of a father who painstakingly makes a bracelet out of date seeds to present his daughter a few weeks before he was executed. The author points out that most of those arrested, tortured and executed were too young to be punished for their half formed political ideals. The second part of the novel is set in and after the Green movement of Iran in 2009 when thousands poured into the streets to protest against a rigged election. One of these stories is about an Iranian immigrant's realization that a difference between the two revolts is that while in 2009, protesters were beaten up and shot at in full public view and under media coverage, the last of those who opposed the Islamic regime in the 1980s were killed in secrecy and buried en-masse in an attempt to be erased from the collective memory of the country. Sahar Delijani writes about how families of ‘anti-revolutionaries’ coped up with the missing, sentencing and execution of their loved ones over the years. Some closed in, buried their sorrows deep within and fled the country while others opened up gradually and shared stories of their losses, fears and torture. Children of the Jacaranda tree is a collection of stories bound together by the central theme of longing for freedom and love for family. The perspectives, idealism, distressed yet hopeful characters and the evocative narratives are phenomenal. An unforgettable reading experience.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Trish

    On the eve of the 2013 presidential election in Iran, Shahar Delijani invites us to look at what past elections have meant for three generations rooted in post-revolutionary Tehran from 1983 to present day. This is a novel that reads like a memoir, tracing the experiences and thoughts of Iran’s disenfranchised and dissident population. If ever you wondered what it must have been like to be a part of Arab Spring as it played out in massive demonstrations in Tehran, this is one woman’s attempt to On the eve of the 2013 presidential election in Iran, Shahar Delijani invites us to look at what past elections have meant for three generations rooted in post-revolutionary Tehran from 1983 to present day. This is a novel that reads like a memoir, tracing the experiences and thoughts of Iran’s disenfranchised and dissident population. If ever you wondered what it must have been like to be a part of Arab Spring as it played out in massive demonstrations in Tehran, this is one woman’s attempt to share that experience and its roots in Iranian society and its diaspora. From the opening scenes of a prison birth to the later reminiscences of a woman receiving someone else’s clothes from prison officials after the death of her husband while in custody, this is inflammatory stuff, heart-breaking and heart-hardening stuff. The effect of events like these on families and personalities is charted and surmised, each generation seemingly adding to the ranks of the disaffected. By this count the opposition to the government in Tehran will never go away but instead grows daily. Conversations among the psychologically traumatized characters in this novel echo what was heard in Beijing after the Tiananmen Square demonstrations. This kind of disaffection isn’t going to evaporate without boiling first. I am not as familiar with customs in the Middle East as I am with those in Asia, so I find the fictional personal interactions recorded here fascinating, supposing that this records faithfully a middling wealthy and cosmopolitan slice of Iranian society. And, though it doesn’t necessarily make good novelistic technique, I enjoyed reading of young male/female relationships. I am struck with the conservatism on one hand and the liberality on the other. This is Delijani’s debut novel, and while she still has room to grow as a novelist, this book illustrates storytelling. I don’t think the two things are necessarily the same. I never felt involved in this story, but watched from a distance the interactions between characters. Surely there are overlaps in customs, feelings, and intentions, especially among Iranians displaced to the West, and yet I felt a great distance. This could be age (hers or mine or the characters'), or it could be one of the stages of cultural familiarity: Geert Hofstede, Dutch guru on the dimensions of culture, once posited that people go through stages of recognition when encountering another culture. At first, without our own cultural markers, we feel disoriented and distant, as though “we are different from them.” Gradually, as we become more familiar and discover that these are humans, too, we begin to think “we are all the same.” As familiarity grows into deep knowledge, we move back to “we really are different.” I think I am still at Stage 1 with Iran.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Christoph Fischer

    "Children of the Jacaranda Tree" by Sahar Deljani is a beautifully told selection of interwoven stories about people in Iran between 1983 and 2011. The first story tells the experience of a pregnant woman who has been arrested and gives birth in prison. She and her fellow inmates become temporarily enchanted by the arrival of the child, which sadly is then taken away from them. The description of the political situation and religious oppression after the revolution in Iran is greatly woven into th "Children of the Jacaranda Tree" by Sahar Deljani is a beautifully told selection of interwoven stories about people in Iran between 1983 and 2011. The first story tells the experience of a pregnant woman who has been arrested and gives birth in prison. She and her fellow inmates become temporarily enchanted by the arrival of the child, which sadly is then taken away from them. The description of the political situation and religious oppression after the revolution in Iran is greatly woven into this narrative, where life in captivity allows a great point of reflection of the outside world. In another part of the book three-year-old Omid witnesses the arrests of his political activist parents, again chosing a great perspective on the madness that grown up people have chosen to participate in. Moving decades further into the future the author tells about the moment when Sheida learns that her father was one of those prisoners executed by almost random will of judges, something her mother never had the courage to tell her daughter, so as not to burden her. There is a segment about the child that has been taken from his mother as a child and then returned later, when that strange woman had really nothing to do with her. All these well chosen characters illustrate the human aspect of extreme times, it shows the idealism that breaks down with the years, the crumbling of faith over the space of that many years of injustice. Written in amazing prose, well paced and touching in its message this is a very good book that will keep you thinking about it long after you have finished reading it.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Diane S ☔

    3.5 Wavered between 3 and four, so I settled on this rating. This book starts out in 1983 in Tehran's Evin Prison, where a women is about to give birth in horrendous circumstances. This is a touching story about a group of young people who believed things in their country needed to get better and suffered for their idealism. It is about families, raising the children of their children who are either in prison or have been executed. Broken family bonds, children that did not know who they belonge 3.5 Wavered between 3 and four, so I settled on this rating. This book starts out in 1983 in Tehran's Evin Prison, where a women is about to give birth in horrendous circumstances. This is a touching story about a group of young people who believed things in their country needed to get better and suffered for their idealism. It is about families, raising the children of their children who are either in prison or have been executed. Broken family bonds, children that did not know who they belonged to and the suffering of all involved. I loved that this book showed the devastation of war on not only families as a whole, but on individual women as well. Some of these children ended up in other countries, not wanting to return to a country who had taken so much from them and some ended up emotionally stalled, unable to move forward, not able to forget nor forgive. I had a bit of trouble with the moving back and forth in time, at times it made the story seem fractured. I could not decide if that was the point, that maybe as the families and the country was fractured so too was their stories. Don;t know if that is true, but I like that explanation. It does, however, end with a great deal of hope for their future and their countries future. They have now elected a new ruler,in Iran, who is said to be more moderate. I hope so for their people because these are not only stories for us to read, these are things that happen to real people. We must always keep that in mind.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Lynda

    The story With the success of the movie Argo, a new generation is coming to learn about revolutionary Iran as a scary and dark place, but with little context for what was happening to the Iranians themselves. Children of the Jacaranda Tree offers some perspective. Opening with a woman giving birth while being held prisoner (refer "The author" below), Children of the Jacaranda Tree tells the stories of three generations of men and women in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2013. The older gener The story With the success of the movie Argo, a new generation is coming to learn about revolutionary Iran as a scary and dark place, but with little context for what was happening to the Iranians themselves. Children of the Jacaranda Tree offers some perspective. Opening with a woman giving birth while being held prisoner (refer "The author" below), Children of the Jacaranda Tree tells the stories of three generations of men and women in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2013. The older generation endures imprisonment and executions for political activism during the time leading up to the 1979 revolution. The second generation is left to pick up the pieces in a country they don’t recognize, and a third grows up with fear and insecurity in broken yet loving families. The novel explores the effect that oppression has had on relationships and how Iran’s dark history has left the younger generation searching—some for solace and some for change. The author Sahar Delijani was born in Tehran in 1983. Her pregnant mother was a prisoner in the city's notorious Evin prison. When her waters broke, she was blindfolded and travelling in the back of a van. She was held in a room for hours, interrogated, riding the waves of labour pains. When her baby was finally born, it would be hours before her mother was allowed to hold her for the first time. These events are recounted in fictionalised form in the opening chapter of Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Delijani's uncle was killed by the regime. He had been arrested six years before, along with his two brothers, his wife and Delijani's mother, but was the only one still in jail at the time of the 1988 summary executions*. As with Delijani's birth, her uncle's death is also present in the novel. * - it is estimated that thousands of these prisoners were executed (Amnesty International puts the number at between 4,500 and 5,000, but Delijani believes it could be as many as 12,000). My review 3.5* rating The first chapter of this book (1983: Evin Prison, Tehran), which runs for 52 pages, was quite confusing. The language and structure was difficult to follow and I felt a little lost. There were a number of characters introduced – several women prisoners, their unseen relatives, a male guard. Many play, at most, a minor role. It felt too much, didn't make sense and was off-putting. I almost gave up. But as the book continued it become clear why these characters were introduced; each chapter tells the story of a different person connected to that original prison cell, and every named character from the first chapter becomes significant, directly or through their children, at some point in the book. While this book definitely drew to a close far better than it opened, I never truly felt involved in this story. Perhaps this was a consequence of the writing style, which was like an anthology of connected short stories or vignettes. It did not draw me emotionally into the lives and fates of the characters as much as I was expecting. Ultimately however this book is meaningful in that it has given a voice to the thousands who suffered in silence. It is also a roadmap of the social and political life of Iran, a country that continues to remain in a state of turmoil.

  9. 4 out of 5

    JenniferD

    probably 4.5-stars, really. okay, so this was an amazing read for me...up until the last chapter. while the final pages were beautiful, they were a bit more disjointed in their flow. so rather than seamlessly coming together, the branches of this incredible story, it was a bit of a bumpy close. as though, perhaps, a bit of grafting had occurred. heh. see what i did there? yeah i know. sorry. :/ but...this book is very much worth your time. delijani's writing is gorgeous. its evocative and almost probably 4.5-stars, really. okay, so this was an amazing read for me...up until the last chapter. while the final pages were beautiful, they were a bit more disjointed in their flow. so rather than seamlessly coming together, the branches of this incredible story, it was a bit of a bumpy close. as though, perhaps, a bit of grafting had occurred. heh. see what i did there? yeah i know. sorry. :/ but...this book is very much worth your time. delijani's writing is gorgeous. its evocative and almost ethereal. everything feels very real and believable, yet it's almost dream-like, reading this book. this novel comes from experiences within delijani's own family. i just can't even imagine. we are so insulated in north america - even those who are well-read, knowledgeable about the middle east and interested in politics, human rights and world issues. those are all wonderful subjects to be interested in and follow, but we are still far removed from realities lived by so many every day. we have no idea.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Greg

    I wanted this to be so much better than it turned out. It's still a good book - I'll stand by the three stars, but it doesn't live up to its potential, or to its virtuoso beginning. Delijani is obviously passionate about Iran, and that comes through on every page, but she often loses the thread of the story, or rather she doesn't seem to have a firm idea of the story she's trying to tell. It could have almost worked as a series of short stories, but in trying to tie everyone together the plot ge I wanted this to be so much better than it turned out. It's still a good book - I'll stand by the three stars, but it doesn't live up to its potential, or to its virtuoso beginning. Delijani is obviously passionate about Iran, and that comes through on every page, but she often loses the thread of the story, or rather she doesn't seem to have a firm idea of the story she's trying to tell. It could have almost worked as a series of short stories, but in trying to tie everyone together the plot gets muddy. It's very difficult to keep track of who is who as we jump back and forth through the last 30 years, with so many characters having similar experiences and intertwining relationships. I don't mean to be that brutal, but the first 50 pages are spectacular, and I just feel a little let down.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie Anze

    3.5 rounded to 4 stars As Azar is being transported, blindfolded, to a hospital to give birth all that is going through her mind is how she thought this experience was going to play out differently. A political prisoner of Evin prison, Azar is questioned even while in labor. When she finally gets to hold her daughter, some fears dissipate but others are born. Post-revolution Iran is tumultuous. Azar, along with her husband and plenty others, have been arrested for their political activities again 3.5 rounded to 4 stars As Azar is being transported, blindfolded, to a hospital to give birth all that is going through her mind is how she thought this experience was going to play out differently. A political prisoner of Evin prison, Azar is questioned even while in labor. When she finally gets to hold her daughter, some fears dissipate but others are born. Post-revolution Iran is tumultuous. Azar, along with her husband and plenty others, have been arrested for their political activities against the regime. Will their children fare better? Set in post-revolution Iran (following the 1979 Iranian Revolution), the opening chapter sets the tone for the novel. Azar is a prisoner, pregnant and at the complete mercy of the "brothers" and "sisters" of the jail. Sent to Evin prison for her political activities, Azar ends up giving birth there. Evin Prison is one of the most notorious and brutal of places. Beatings, torture and interrogations are only part of its repertoire. Nicknamed "Evin University" for the large number of intellectuals that have been jailed there, this is no common jail (described by many as hell on earth). This is the place where Azar returns to with her baby. Her cell mates are excited for the arrival. Its a breath of fresh air. This novel is a family saga and while not all are connected through blood, their lives are intertwined for their shared experience. While I love the concept and idea behind the novel, I found it somewhat difficult to keep track of familial and non-familial relations. The transitions were a bit confusing too. Having said this, the prose is beautifully written, heartbreaking yet hopeful. While am at it, I would like to mention the cover too. Its the perfect compliment to the narrative, as the jacaranda tree is often associated with wisdom and rebirth. The symbolism of this tree plays a heavy role for the protagonists. The atrocities comitted are not just recent history but are very personal for mrs Delijani. She was one of such children to be born in Evin, both her parents were jailed. Part memoir, part historical fiction this was a heartfelt and profound story.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    I love the cover of this novel! It has an intriguing title and an excellent opening story!!!! 5 STARS FOR THOSE!!! The story itself falls short due to lack of character development. Every character seemed exactly the same having no outstanding characteristics, personality traits or personal interests that set them apart from each other. The story jumps back and forth from the 1980's to 2011 with new characters being introduced in the last 70 pages. These characters had a "background" that in mos I love the cover of this novel! It has an intriguing title and an excellent opening story!!!! 5 STARS FOR THOSE!!! The story itself falls short due to lack of character development. Every character seemed exactly the same having no outstanding characteristics, personality traits or personal interests that set them apart from each other. The story jumps back and forth from the 1980's to 2011 with new characters being introduced in the last 70 pages. These characters had a "background" that in most novels would have been a memory, not just for the character, but for you as the reader as well. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a story worth being told but one which has not been approached in a manner that communicates its message in the powerful way it could have been to someone who lacks personal experience of the events and the culture. I really hate to only give this book 2 stars but due to character development I can't justify a rating more than "it was ok".

  13. 5 out of 5

    Karen R

    This story grabbed me from the first paragraph. It is set in post-revolutionary Iran, and delves into how the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war forever changed families' lives. This was a war in which many thousands of people were executed, others spending years living in inhumane prison conditions. The author’s inspiration comes from her own family that was affected by this war, an uncle executed and her parents imprisoned. Those readers looking for a story that is action packed will not find that This story grabbed me from the first paragraph. It is set in post-revolutionary Iran, and delves into how the aftermath of the Iran-Iraq war forever changed families' lives. This was a war in which many thousands of people were executed, others spending years living in inhumane prison conditions. The author’s inspiration comes from her own family that was affected by this war, an uncle executed and her parents imprisoned. Those readers looking for a story that is action packed will not find that here. The chapters follow the normal routines of husbands, wives, fathers, sons, and daughters coping to make the best of an awful situation, their stories intertwining. The resilience of these people in such atrocious conditions is stunning. The details contained within will stay with me for a long time.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Marion

    Both heartbreaking and beautiful, "Children of the Jacaranda Tree" is set in Iran from 1983 to 2011. This powerful first novel, by Sahar Delijani, vividly portrays the brutality and horror inflicted upon political activists who have courageously opposed the tyrannical regime of modern day Iran. Through a series of anecdotes taken from the lives of a handful of people - parents, children, grandparents, lovers, husbands and wives - the author tells a larger truth of idealism and hope rising up aga Both heartbreaking and beautiful, "Children of the Jacaranda Tree" is set in Iran from 1983 to 2011. This powerful first novel, by Sahar Delijani, vividly portrays the brutality and horror inflicted upon political activists who have courageously opposed the tyrannical regime of modern day Iran. Through a series of anecdotes taken from the lives of a handful of people - parents, children, grandparents, lovers, husbands and wives - the author tells a larger truth of idealism and hope rising up against crushing oppression. Standing in stark contrast to the chilling cruelty of the regime is the loving warmth and devotion of family - the quiet heroes who provide safe keeping for the children of those who have been taken and imprisoned. With simple, straightforward eloquence, Delijani has created a moving tribute to all who are the Children of the Jacaranda Tree. The book begins in 1983 in Evin prison where a young woman, Azar, is giving birth to a daughter, who will be named Neda. Azar is allowed to nurse her child for several months until one day, the baby is simply taken away. Fortunately, the child is returned to Azar's parents. Neda, becomes one of a number of children taken in by Azar's parents, some related, some not. Also in this household, is Leila, Neda's aunt, who ultimately devotes her life to caring for children whose parents have been taken. Delijani writes lovingly about Leila and other women like her who clearly stand out as the heart of the book. Throughout the book are stories of children whose parents have been lost to them, some lost for years, some forever. There are stories of parents who have tried to protect their children by taking them out of the country or by attempting to hide the ugly truth of Iran's recent history. Now, these children, the third generation of post revolutionary Iran, are experiencing a new wave of rebellion and they must decide, to the extent that they are able, what their own individual stories will be. Like their parents and grandparents before them, their lives will be swept into the wash of history. As one of the characters sadly observes, "….history is not supposed to come into one's house." Even those who choose to leave the country and culture of their birth are sacrificing a part of themselves. Moving back and forth in time, jumping from character to character, it is sometimes a bit difficult to keep track of the relations between characters. But, what is most important is the sum of the parts. Delijani skillfully weaves those individual parts into the greater whole - all, while demonstrating an impressive ability to convey, with equal intensity, both the good and the evil. The book resonates with a special emotional authenticity. Sahar Delijani was, herself, born in Tehran's Evin prison in 1983. The book is fictionalized, but draws from those all too real experiences that the author and members of her own family have had to endure. Delijani has created an important, intimate history. A history that needs to be known and remembered.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Angela

    This beautifully written debut novel by Sahar Delijani is set in Iran, covering a period between 1983 and 2011. In the pages of this powerful book, we read of the lives of a number of people caught up and changed forever by the events occurring in Iran between these years. Following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in the late 1970s, many thousands of the population became disillusioned with the new regime. Many decided that they needed to make their feelings and thoughts known, but their protes This beautifully written debut novel by Sahar Delijani is set in Iran, covering a period between 1983 and 2011. In the pages of this powerful book, we read of the lives of a number of people caught up and changed forever by the events occurring in Iran between these years. Following the overthrow of the Shah of Iran in the late 1970s, many thousands of the population became disillusioned with the new regime. Many decided that they needed to make their feelings and thoughts known, but their protests led to mass imprisonment, torture and execution. In Children of the Jacaranda Tree we follow the lives of a handful of these early protesters. We read of the impact of their arrests on their parents. We also meet and follow some of the babies and young people whose parents were imprisoned, tortured and killed in the 1980s, seeing the ways that their lives have been shaped by earlier events. I was completely drawn in by this novel. I was stunned by the brutality of the “Brothers” and “Sisters” who worked in the prisons - not only physical cruelty inflicted upon the prisoners, but mental and emotional torture. I was truly shocked by the execution episode; it was not a detailed horrific description, but its starkness shook me to the core. It was interesting to see how the younger generation dealt with their history and how it impacted on their lives. This is a book that I would recommend reading in hardback or paperback, as there are plenty of characters to remember and it’s not always easy to skip back to check on a name or link when reading an eBook. Having said that, for me, this has been a powerful, shocking, but ultimately hopeful read. I shall never again be able to disregard events in Iran - this insight into the personal lives of Iranians has given much food for thought. This is a book that I will not forget. I received this from NetGalley, free of charge, in return for my honest review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Andrew

    Maman Zinat did not respond. She seemed too upset to speak. Aghajaan too fell silent, drinking his tea in one angry gulp. Leila turned her gaze away from her mother and father and let it glide on the large chunky wardrobe that no longer contained any clothes, only blankets and covers for the three children. She had never understood why her sisters had kept on fighting even though the revolution was over, a war had taken its place, and everyone was first struggling to make a new beginning and lat Maman Zinat did not respond. She seemed too upset to speak. Aghajaan too fell silent, drinking his tea in one angry gulp. Leila turned her gaze away from her mother and father and let it glide on the large chunky wardrobe that no longer contained any clothes, only blankets and covers for the three children. She had never understood why her sisters had kept on fighting even though the revolution was over, a war had taken its place, and everyone was first struggling to make a new beginning and later to ward off death. But Simin and Parisa fought on, along with their husbands. They threw leaflets over walls, held secret meetings at home, read outlawed books, watched the news and jotted down how many times the name of the Supreme Leader was mentioned and how his name was taking over everything, growing louder, omnipresent, and how their own political presence—along with all the others not part of the regime—was being scratched out, their existence denied, stifled, washed clean, like a stain on a tablecloth. They sat there in front of the television screen, pens in hand, putting into numbers how they were slowly vanishing, purged from the collective memory of the country, buried alive. They were now the enemy, the anti-revolutionaries. That was shortly before their arrest, when the process of being undone came to its last strike. *** Sahar Delijani’s debut novel Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a deeply personal web of connected narratives detailing the lives of three generations of men and women—husbands, wives, grandparents, parents, and children—irrevocably affected by the Iranian revolution. The events of the book earn their narrative weight from the summer of 1988: nine years after the revolution, which installed the Islamic republic to the head of Iran, the country’s prisons were purged. Many were killed, including the author’s uncle, and the author herself was born behind bars. The novel opens in 1983, in Evin Prison, Tehran. Azar is incarcerated as an anti-revolutionary. She’s interrogated harshly, and as the Iraq war enters its third year, she has neither seen nor experienced life in the city of Tehran for months. She is also pregnant, giving birth to a young daughter, Neda, in a prison hospital, away from her husband Ismael, who has also been imprisoned for anti-revolutionary crimes. They fear the Sisters and the Brothers—their guards, uninterested in the safety or wellbeing of their charges. Together with several other prisoners, Azar takes care of little Neda, fearing the inevitable moment her daughter will be taken away from her. The novel’s second section, taking place in Tehran in 1987, is from the perspective of family members of jailed anti-revolutionaries. We see through the eyes of a young woman named Leila how one person’s fight for freedom is another’s selfish act—because “Anti-revolutionary sisters meant an anti-revolution family.” The novel is quick to humanize those interned and those still free by showing both equally capable of error and selfishness, depending on another’s unshared perspective. In the third section, taking place from 1983 to 1988 in the Komiteh Mochtarak Detention Center, introduces Amir, a twenty-something detainee sentenced to six years for a litany of crimes: “Founding a Marxist group, participating in a Marxist group, planning a coup, planning the overthrow of the Islamic Republic of Iran, atheism…” Amir’s wife and new-to-the-world daughter are safe outside of the prison, though their interaction is minimal. Amir passes his days in hope, fashioning a bracelet for his daughter, Sheida, from a small nail pulled from a wooden box in what passes for a prison washroom, thread pulled from socks, and collected date stones. From this point forward, the novel marches on in years, jumping back in time occasionally to detail the relationship between Sheida’s mother Maryam and Amir, but for the most part progressing through to 2011 as it tracks the movements of the children and family members of anti-revolutionaries lost or forever changed by their time in prison. In many ways, Children of the Jacaranda Tree echoes the structure of David Mitchell’s Cloud Atlas. The novel is a pyramid, beginning with one set of individuals, then branching off into another, and another still, until it begins resolving the other halves of the lives previously introduced, the narrative gradually winding its way around again to the story of Azar and Neda in the final section. What differs from the beginning of the pyramid to the end is the perspective: nearly thirty years have passed, and Neda, the child born in Evin Prison, is living now in Turin, Italy, and is in control of how her story will end. The titular jacaranda tree is symbolic in many ways, both subtle and overt. While it is referenced several times throughout as a focal point of happier memories—days gone by, what once was and never will be again—it is also representative of the many paths the individual stories take as they divert, sometimes unexpectedly, down one branch of family history or another. I appreciated the slight non-linearity to Children of the Jacaranda Tree and its altogether well managed structure. The manner in which Delijani resolves the novel’s many disparate plots to tell a singular family’s wide reaching and often-tragic tale is more than satisfying. There is in the final section a six-degrees-of-separation-moment with Reza’s father and Neda’s mother that mars the otherwise quite believable nature of the story being told. However, because so much of the novel’s detail has been culled from true events in the author’s life and the lives of several members of her family, I’m not going to say it is impossible that things happened the way they are written, merely that given the likelihood of such an event, acceptance requires a small leap of faith. Delijani’s writing is confident, though I felt it occasionally wanting in the area of physical detail; a greater visual sense of place and environment would have helped with the sometimes fragmented structure of the novel as it shifts quickly from one life to another. On the subject of lives, it is Sheida and her relationship with her mother Maryam that provides the novel’s strongest narrative and emotional hooks. The ramifications of the 1988 purge are especially strong when seen through the eyes of a young woman grasping at a thinly veiled truth—one that will change for the rest of her life how she sees her father. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is disturbing and heart wrenching, yet at times unexpectedly beautiful. The resilience on display in the face of startling inhumanity is moving and effective—all the more knowing that many elements within the narrative are pulled from true events. Recommended.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emma Deplores Goodreads Censorship

    I'm throwing in the towel on page 78, as part of my continuing effort not to waste precious free time continuing to read books that aren't working. This book put me in mind of Burial Rites, in that it sucks you in by opening with a character in a horrific situation, apparently in hopes that readers' instinctive emotional response will prove strong enough to keep us invested, although it soon becomes clear that the author lacks sufficient skill at characterization to actually interest us in the ch I'm throwing in the towel on page 78, as part of my continuing effort not to waste precious free time continuing to read books that aren't working. This book put me in mind of Burial Rites, in that it sucks you in by opening with a character in a horrific situation, apparently in hopes that readers' instinctive emotional response will prove strong enough to keep us invested, although it soon becomes clear that the author lacks sufficient skill at characterization to actually interest us in the characters or make us care about them when awful things aren't happening. The ploy works less well here, however, because this book isn't as well-paced and because it's more a collection of short stories than a novel; after 50 pages we move on to some new, boring character doing boring things, and that appears to be the pattern throughout. Though at least I can say that it made the book easier to abandon - if the book had followed through with Azar's story I'd probably have read it all and then given 2 stars, or a begrudging 3. Also, I realize English isn't the author's native language, but, hello, editors? In one sentence a character looking out a window observes a traffic jam, including "the restless bodies impaled on motorbikes with not enough space to maneuver through the jam." (Impaled? What a bizarre and distracting way to describe people riding motorcycles.) Later, a grandmother is described as "pedantic" for carefully showing equal amounts of affection to all of her grandchildren. I see how a thesaurus might have led the author wrong there, but that is not what the word means. On its own, though, the first chapter is decent. If you want to read a painful story without any payoff, that is.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Mirella

    This book starts with a gripping first chapter. A pregnant woman in labour is blindfolded and transported to a prison hospital to have her child. She must not deliver until she gets there. It is a shocking start for the book which progresses with more vignettes that often left me flabbergasted. After a short while in the women’s care, these babies, born in custody, are stripped from the mother and sent to relatives and friends to be raised. The novel focuses on what happens to these children as This book starts with a gripping first chapter. A pregnant woman in labour is blindfolded and transported to a prison hospital to have her child. She must not deliver until she gets there. It is a shocking start for the book which progresses with more vignettes that often left me flabbergasted. After a short while in the women’s care, these babies, born in custody, are stripped from the mother and sent to relatives and friends to be raised. The novel focuses on what happens to these children as they grow to adulthood amid the political unrest and turmoil of Iran. The story spans for several decades. The writing is beautiful and very compelling. Because the novel focuses on the children, their caregivers, and their parents, I found there to be quite a lot of characters. Further, the stories often jumped from the past to the current time. At first, this confused me, but I persevered and soon found that the book wasn’t written like a typical plot driven story, but rather like an anthology of connected short stories or vignettes. After that, I worried less about remembering who was who and I was able to enjoy the individual stories of hardship, imprisonment, or suffering. Beyond reading for entertainment, this novel sends a powerful message, educating readers with the dreadful terror the characters experience that mirror the truth about Iran and its people. Rich descriptions, unforgettable characters, unbelievable injustice, and victory grace the pages of this fascinating novel. All in all, a most fascinating novel!

  19. 4 out of 5

    Karen McMillan

    This astonishing and beautifully-written book shines a light on the plight of political protesters during the 1980s in Iran – a time of brutal crackdowns by the regime, a time of violence, imprisonment, and in some cases, death. It also follows the children of the activists and the impact on their young lives. The novel follows a series of characters from the 1980s until the present day. A young married woman, Azar, gives birth to a baby girl in the depths of Tehran’s Evin Prison in harrowing ci This astonishing and beautifully-written book shines a light on the plight of political protesters during the 1980s in Iran – a time of brutal crackdowns by the regime, a time of violence, imprisonment, and in some cases, death. It also follows the children of the activists and the impact on their young lives. The novel follows a series of characters from the 1980s until the present day. A young married woman, Azar, gives birth to a baby girl in the depths of Tehran’s Evin Prison in harrowing circumstances. She doesn’t know if her husband is alive or not, or if she will be allowed to keep her baby. Outside the prison, Maryam, tries to protect her young daughter from knowing that her father was executed. The only thing she has left of him is the bracelet of date stones that he made before his death, a bracelet for his daughter they managed to smuggle out during a rare visit. But instead of giving her daughter the bracelet, Maryam tries to bury the past and she tells her that her father died of an illness as they forge out a new life in exile. Maryam spends years trying to live with her unspoken grief until the truth finally comes out. There are other children too, abandoned when their parents are arrested and brought up with other family members. The ghosts of revolution cast a long shadow on everyone’s lives. This is a novel about trying to create a new future when the past is mired in sadness. The author was born in Iran in the 1980s and it is clear that she has woven many true events from her own family history into this deeply affecting novel.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Terri

    I received this book through Goodreads First Reads program. I was immediately drawn in by the cover art it is beautiful and as the story progresses it is very symbolic. This story reads more or less like a series of short stories that as the book progresses you realize are all interconnected through both familial relationships and life events. This book spans a time frame of just over 30 years and teaches us the resiliency of the human spirit as thousands of families suffer the hard reality of r I received this book through Goodreads First Reads program. I was immediately drawn in by the cover art it is beautiful and as the story progresses it is very symbolic. This story reads more or less like a series of short stories that as the book progresses you realize are all interconnected through both familial relationships and life events. This book spans a time frame of just over 30 years and teaches us the resiliency of the human spirit as thousands of families suffer the hard reality of religious and political persecution by taking us deep into the lives of a select few. We feel the pain and suffering of the main characters as their lives and families are ripped apart through this civil war. We also get a realistic picture of what being reunited means for the families. We see the mixed emotions of children who see their parents as virtual strangers and the sense of loss of the relatives who must learn to let go of children they raised as their own. I was moved to tears several times while reading this book both from sadness and joy. To know that although this is fiction it is based on real world events and that any one of these stories could be happening right now was heart breaking, but to read about families that took such terrible circumstances and made the best of them was inspiring. To see the strong sense of conviction of those who won't be forced from the country that they call their own, regardless of the risks, truly moving.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Patrice Hoffman

    The debut novel Children Of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani immediately captures the audience with the birth of Neda in an Iran prison. The preface suggests that much of the story is taken from experiences in the authors life. I can only wonder what parts are true to her life and what isn't. The novel follows the lives of people who's lives are changed by the social unrest in post-revoluntionary Iran, from 1983 to 2011. Delijani explores how history has changed characters such as Neda, Mary The debut novel Children Of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani immediately captures the audience with the birth of Neda in an Iran prison. The preface suggests that much of the story is taken from experiences in the authors life. I can only wonder what parts are true to her life and what isn't. The novel follows the lives of people who's lives are changed by the social unrest in post-revoluntionary Iran, from 1983 to 2011. Delijani explores how history has changed characters such as Neda, Maryam, and Sheida and its effects. Children of the Jacaranda Tree is very interesting and is initially engaging. The characters are well developed and the horrors they encounter are a real tragedy. The story of a daughter never knowing their father because he's been executed or the mother forced to give up their child after only a few months of nursing them. Toddlers earliest memories are of their parents being taken away by force. All occurances that leave readers breathless and wanting to take a stand as some in this novel have done. I recommend Children of the Jacaranda Tree to fans of Khaled Hosseini and have an interest in the affairs of the Middle East. Sahar Delijani's debut suggests that she is an acceptable new talent in the literary fiction world.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Beverly

    I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story is comprised of chapters that, at first, seemed to be individual tales but as you continue to read, the characters and story lines are interwoven. The novel is set in post-Revolutionary Iran and filled with memorable people whom you cannot help identifying with because regardless of the individual circumstances, everyone falls in love, feels joy and pain and learns details of their lives past when they should have. A woman gives birth while still I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book. The story is comprised of chapters that, at first, seemed to be individual tales but as you continue to read, the characters and story lines are interwoven. The novel is set in post-Revolutionary Iran and filled with memorable people whom you cannot help identifying with because regardless of the individual circumstances, everyone falls in love, feels joy and pain and learns details of their lives past when they should have. A woman gives birth while still in prison and is allowed to keep her child for a short time before her family is asked to continue the baby's care. A man who is imprisoned meets his newborn for the first time and then spends days making a gift for the child, who doesn't see the gift for years. Children are raised by their grandmother and aunt and then returned to parents that they don't remember. All of these stories and others are told in a beautiful way while also conveying the historical significance of the time period. I think the book reminds us that there will always be those who fight for what they believe in regardless of the suffering they may have to go thru to get there.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Connie D

    The blurb: Set in post-revolutionary Iran, and told in interconnected, alternate perspectives, Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a deeply personal tale that gives voice to the men, women, and children who won a war only to find their lives—and those of their descendants—imperiled by its aftermath. My Comments: I'm having a difficult time rating and describing this novel, which is why I chose that quick explanation. All the characters, mostly relatives, have been affected by the Iranian revolution, The blurb: Set in post-revolutionary Iran, and told in interconnected, alternate perspectives, Children of the Jacaranda Tree is a deeply personal tale that gives voice to the men, women, and children who won a war only to find their lives—and those of their descendants—imperiled by its aftermath. My Comments: I'm having a difficult time rating and describing this novel, which is why I chose that quick explanation. All the characters, mostly relatives, have been affected by the Iranian revolution, imprisonment, executions, Iraqi bombings, and later revolutions. The experiences are deeply personal and yet the characters themselves have little unique in their personalities beside the ache of their losses and fear. So, oddly I found it difficult to relate to individuals, and yet felt their pain. For me, the lack of complete characters (and lives) dropped the rating, but scenes were often beautiful/beautifully terrible, and I appreciated this peephole into life in post-revolutionary Iran.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alena

    The stories in this book span 30 years in the recent history of Iran, often brutal and terrifying. And, while it's novel, I think it reads more like interconnected individual stories. In fact, my issue with the book is that I never fully engaged with the characters. I liked the writing, but just when I found myself really caring about someome, we were on to the next prison story. Still, I appreciate the unique perspective of this book. Iran is an interesting case of multiple generations rising up The stories in this book span 30 years in the recent history of Iran, often brutal and terrifying. And, while it's novel, I think it reads more like interconnected individual stories. In fact, my issue with the book is that I never fully engaged with the characters. I liked the writing, but just when I found myself really caring about someome, we were on to the next prison story. Still, I appreciate the unique perspective of this book. Iran is an interesting case of multiple generations rising up in protest. And, while I've read a few books about the children of oppression, I've never read anything quite like this one. Good, not great.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Keck

    I feel a little bad rating it so low because I learned a lot and it was probably important, but I was just so bored.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adeeb

    The reason I picked this book up was for one reason only. I am very interested in regional stories. I like to read about the stories of countries that had tumultuous pasts, stories where the country fails its people, stories where identity is lost, stories where war changes people... I had read books about Afghanistan and Palestine, and I thought I would go beyond that. Well, my local bookstore made that easy! They beautifully combine these kind of books together in a specific section and you can The reason I picked this book up was for one reason only. I am very interested in regional stories. I like to read about the stories of countries that had tumultuous pasts, stories where the country fails its people, stories where identity is lost, stories where war changes people... I had read books about Afghanistan and Palestine, and I thought I would go beyond that. Well, my local bookstore made that easy! They beautifully combine these kind of books together in a specific section and you can easily browse through the different books. So I decided to pick this book up, and after reading, I found that this book is very misleading. It is marketed as a novel, but it really is not. The book is split into several parts and each part tells the story of certain characters. The characters can either be grandparents, parents, or grandchildren. So, it sort of says the family tree's story. I would say that this book is a collection of short stories as opposed to a novel. Now, this book started off very strongly. I found myself very fascinated by the first few parts of the book, which showed the pain and suffering characters went through because of political movements. The stories were very poignant (Those were the stories of the parents). Soon, the book went downhill. It suddenly became about the grandchildren, which was fine. However, to me, it felt more like their love stories as opposed to the pain and suffering. I did not appreciate that I had to read each and every character's chapter's sex scene. There is no need to show that for every character. The book is supposed to be more about how the whole family reacts to the difficulties they went through, and I think it very much failed in that aspect. The writing style was a little odd. There was an odd choice of tenses. It was written in third person point of view, present tense. I don't think this is an issue but it felt a little weird. Other than that, the author managed to capture the pain and suffering at certain parts of the book. But still, in some moments, the writing was unpleasantly dramatic and I found myself rolling my eyes. It showed that the writer was trying too hard to be vivid and poetic. Favorite quote: "She could only see them as three reflections of one body. Three in one, like the branches of a tree, the jacaranda tree in their courtyard. One could never tell where the tree ended and the branches started. That was what they were, the three children: the tree and its branches." Overall, there was a great, poignant story to tell. You can tell that the story is coming from a deep, personal space. However, the execution was lackluster, which made the book overall just okay. It could have been a great book like Susan Abulhawa or Khaled Hosseini's notable works.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Andy Miller

    This absorbing novel begins with three chapters from Iran of the early 1980s as the Khomeni government repressed dissent including that from former allies in the overthrow of the Shah. Each chapter features a different family; Azar who gives birth to her daughter in prison after she and her husband were arrested for passing out leaflets and other forbidden political activity, Leila who along with her parents takes care of three children from her two sisters who have also been arrested for politi This absorbing novel begins with three chapters from Iran of the early 1980s as the Khomeni government repressed dissent including that from former allies in the overthrow of the Shah. Each chapter features a different family; Azar who gives birth to her daughter in prison after she and her husband were arrested for passing out leaflets and other forbidden political activity, Leila who along with her parents takes care of three children from her two sisters who have also been arrested for political activity and are in prison, and Amir, a young man who is in prison while his pregnant wife remains outside. The three families are connected. Azar is in a cell with Parisa, one of Leila's sisters and with Firoozeh who has become a prison informant and Azar's husband's brother. Azar went to the wedding of Leila's other sister Simin who married Azar's husband's brother, Behrouz. Amir was a cell mate with the brother Behrouz. The prison stories are excruciating to read, while there is some brutality, it is the banality of every day life in prison mixed with occasional hope, for example Azar sees his wife twice during visits and at one time is allowed to hold his infant daughter who was born while he was in prison. Later chapters show that most of the characters were released though two were executed The book then jumps years to when the children of the prison years have become adults. Interestingly the only narrative from an adult during the prison years is from Amir's wife who had concealed the truth about Amir from their daughter who was born while Amir was in prison. Otherwise we learn about those adults current lives from the perspectives of the children of the prison era. Especially poignant is the portrayal of Leila who remained in Iran while her sisters left Iran after being released from prison. Leila was in love with a poet, had a secret relationship with him meeting in isolated parks violating bomb imposed curfews while taking care of her nieces and nephews; in the later years we find her living a somewhat spinster life We also see the children's perspective of the "Iran spring" and the resulting repression and sending of protestors to prison, they are the same age as their parents were during the initial repression. The novel shows that idealism survives even the most brutal repression

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carly Thompson

    2.5 stars. This novel had a strong opening chapter--a woman imprisoned in 1983 Iran gives birth in a prison hospital and is able to keep her baby for a short time before her daughter is taken away and given to her grandparents. It was a truly heartbreaking chapter and the author expertly describes the sites and sounds of the prison. The next couple chapters tell the stories of other men and women imprisoned in the 1980s by the Revolutionary Guard and then the action shifts into the present day a 2.5 stars. This novel had a strong opening chapter--a woman imprisoned in 1983 Iran gives birth in a prison hospital and is able to keep her baby for a short time before her daughter is taken away and given to her grandparents. It was a truly heartbreaking chapter and the author expertly describes the sites and sounds of the prison. The next couple chapters tell the stories of other men and women imprisoned in the 1980s by the Revolutionary Guard and then the action shifts into the present day and individual chapters focus on their children and how they have been effected by the events of the 1980s. The author did a good job establishing a sense of place in this novel which was more about theme than plot. I found the shifting of the story from character to character and time period to time period a little disorientating. Delijani includes the stories of various characters who are loosely connected to show how the regime of Iran effected so many people in so many different ways. But the effect of moving between characters made me not very attached to any of them. I would have preferred a story that followed one immediate family from the 1980s to the present day. I felt removed from the horror that is depicted. Delijani's writing style is very poetic and lush with descriptions. At points it felt over written, like she was throwing out descriptive words or psychological insights into character motivations without really developing the plot or characters. The political events of the 1980s and 2010s are briefly filled out; someone without much background in the period won't learn a lot about the timeline and events (that was not the goal of the book, however). The book has been blurbed by Khaled Hosseini and will appeal to readers of literary fiction who like novels that are similar to the short story format (moving to different characters and time periods between chapters). I read this book as a possible contender for a book club discussion and it would appeal to readers who like multicultural fiction and there are issues to discuss. I found it too disjointed to want to revisit for a book club.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Dawn

    Advanced Reader’s Copy: Anticipated publish date: Jun 18 2013 by Atria books, a division of Simon and Schuster ”We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time.” In 1979, the people of Iran rose up against the Shah of Iran, who was seen by many as a dictator, and as a puppet of the western powers. They succeeded, and in the political chaos that followed, Ayatollah Khomeini was invited to return to Iran, and asked to found an ”Islamic Republic”. In the years after, the Ayatolla Advanced Reader’s Copy: Anticipated publish date: Jun 18 2013 by Atria books, a division of Simon and Schuster ”We all have a tree inside us. Finding it is just a matter of time.” In 1979, the people of Iran rose up against the Shah of Iran, who was seen by many as a dictator, and as a puppet of the western powers. They succeeded, and in the political chaos that followed, Ayatollah Khomeini was invited to return to Iran, and asked to found an ”Islamic Republic”. In the years after, the Ayatolla consolidated his power, and in effect, installed an Islamic Theocracy, imprisoning and terrorizing opponents. This is the setting of Sahar Delijani’s debut novel. In it, we leapfrog from one life to the next. The tree that is this novel grows, rooted in the blood and brutality of the notorious Evin Prison, spreading out, limb and branch, through the social ties that bind us all. Daughter, lover, friend: the echoes of revolution take generations to fade, and the scars are passed along, imprinted on the lives that follow, like fingerprints on clay. Delijani’s prose is intricate and lovely, reminding me somewhat of Toni Morrison, and like Morrison’s work, this requires slow, careful reading. This is a novel to be savored slowly rather than devoured. However, the transitions from one character to the next could be smoother, incorporating more clues to help keep the relationships straight. To be honest, I needed a map of the relationships; by the time I got close to the end, there were just so many, and I think it’s harder for these western eyes of mine to track the names that seem so exotic to me. I’ll expect to see this one crop up on a lot of Reading Lists and Book Groups over the coming year, between the exotic setting, the social relevance and delicate literary touch.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Mimi

    I'm having heartburn about something that happened while I was alive and cognisant being historical fiction, but I think I have to settle into that idea! A beautifully written story of the Iranian revolution's impact on a family who has several members incarcerated, on their children (one of whom was born in the prison,) and on themselves. I'm having heartburn about something that happened while I was alive and cognisant being historical fiction, but I think I have to settle into that idea! A beautifully written story of the Iranian revolution's impact on a family who has several members incarcerated, on their children (one of whom was born in the prison,) and on themselves.

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