Wednesday, 11 February 2015

Review: A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea by Dina Nayeri.


Book: A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea

Author: Dina Nayeri

Pages: 440

Read On: Paperback

How Long it Took Me To Read: 4 days

Plot Summary: Growing up in a small rice-farming village in 1980s Iran, eleven-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are captivated by America. They keep lists of English words and collect illegal Life magazines, television shows, and rock music. So when her mother and sister disappear, leaving Saba and her father alone in Iran, Saba is certain that they have moved to America without her. But her parents have taught her that “all fate is written in the blood,” and that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea. As she grows up in the warmth and community of her local village, falls in and out of love, and struggles with the limited possibilities in post-revolutionary Iran, Saba envisions that there is another way for her story to unfold. Somewhere, it must be that her sister is living the Western version of this life. And where Saba’s world has all the grit and brutality of real life under the new Islamic regime, her sister’s experience gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.

Filled with a colorful cast of characters and presented in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with modern Western prose, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is a tale about memory and the importance of controlling one’s own fate.
 
General Thoughts: Heard about this book and wanted to read it at once. I have a thing for books set in Iran, I always seem to enjoy them. So I just had to read this book!

Things I Liked: 

1. The writing was really lovely. This was a book orginally written in English, unlike some of the other books set in Iran. The writing was beautiful. It did a great job at setting the atmosphere of a small town and it's people and it's culture. It made me feel like I was there.

2. I loved the emphasis and importance given to story-telling and the art of telling stories in this book. I love this aspect in books.

3. I loved Saba's people- her gentle father who is struggling hard to bond with his daughter, I loved her three mothers- all very interesting characters and I liked seeing their perspectives in the book too.

4. The setting of this book was great, not just set in Iran, it was set in a little village, with it's own culture and tradition. I have read other books set in Iran but pretty much all of them were set in Tehran. I never read about what happened in the small towns and villages of Iran during the political strife.

5. I loved reading about Saba's life, her struggles in her marriage, her attempts to better her life and take charge of her own destiny. I also absolutely reading about her childhood.

6. The author did a wonderful job of showing the claustrophobia and fear of living in a uber-conservative society. You could feel the fear and the tension and stress of living like this. Especially what it is like to be a woman in this world.

Things I Didn't Like: 

1. There were huge portions in the book were Saba imagined her twin's life in America. Honestly, these portions bored me to tears. I just didn't see the point of reading imagined bits that weren't real or adding to the 'real' story.

2. I am not sure if the book intended for us, the readers, to wonder about whether Mahtab is alive or not. Because I was pretty sure from the beginning that she wasn't alive anymore. But time and again we are given little snippets of contrary information and maybe we are meant to think if she's alive. I just didn't get very invested in caring if Mahtab is alive or not.

3. The pace of this book was a little slow.

4. The book was good at telling us what was happening in this little village but if this is the first book you are reading about Iran, you might not fully understand what was happening in the country as a whole.

Rating: 3/5


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