A COUNTRY DIVIDED BY REVOLUTION A PEOPLE UNITED BY LOVE
Neda is born in Tehran’s 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. In another part of the city, three-year-old Omid 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.
These are the Children of the Jacaranda Tree. Set in post-revolutionary Iran from 1983 to 2011, this stunning debut novel follows a group of mothers, fathers, children, and lovers, some related by blood, others brought together by the tide of history that washes over 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.
Children of the Jacaranda Tree is an evocative portrait of three generations of men and women inspired by love and poetry, burning with idealism, chasing dreams of justice and freedom. Written in Sahar Delijani’s spellbinding prose, capturing the intimate side of revolution in a country where the weight of history is all around, it is a moving tribute to anyone who has ever answered its call.
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!