Deep in Tehran’s Evin Prison, Azar gives birth to a baby girl.
Corridors away, Amir is making a bracelet out of date stones. He hopes that one day his daughter will hold it in her hands.
As a camera shutter closes, three children are fixed in time. These children cannot remember their mothers’ faces. But their mothers will treasure the photos, daring to imagine the life that goes on beyond prison walls.
Revolution has torn the future from the past. But these children, the children of the jacaranda tree, will have the chance to grow. They will go into exile, they will find love and they will return home to Iran. But they will also have to confront the terrible legacies passed from one generation to the next when the cold boot of history stamps on individual lives.
CHILDREN OF THE JACARANDA TREE is a novel about the ghosts of revolution. It is a novel about forging the future when your past is too painful to remember. It is a novel that you will never forget.
Inspired by true experiences of friends and family this is Sahar Delijani’s debut novel and this was our book club choice for August.
This book is obviously quite politically charged but doesn’t concentrate so much on the why but how this revolution and regime was lived through by three generations. The alternating perspectives recount their experiences of a country at war with itself and the effects on not just the prisoners, but their spouses, parents and children.
The first few chapters are quite confusing with how many character’s names there were, and sometimes the author would just start writing about someone but didn’t specify a name and I’m there trying to figure out who it is. I actually felt like I needed a family tree as the pages flipped back and forth between time and people and it was quite easy to lose track. Although it’s quite complex as you do read on you see that the later chapters are all somehow connected back to the first chapter when Azar gives birth in the prison cell.
At times, it is a difficult story to read as you appreciate the hardship, the fear and just the basic lack of human rights these prisoners suffered. And it also makes you realise the lack of rights women had and still have. I’m thinking of the scene where Leila is taking the children to have their photograph taken when she is approached by the soldiers about her appearance and she is discreetly trying to wipe off lipstick using her headscarf without them seeing.
Of all the characters and experiences it was Leila I felt most sorry for. She gave up the love of her life for her family and it seems that she she never got over that, never married or had children, just helped to raise others.
Overall my fellow book clubbers thought this was somewhat disjointed and at times read like a documentary! Read if you enjoyed books like The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns.