by Janine S (Wyoming, MI): I was given this book in order to participate in a March 2024 on-line book discussion. And, I am so honored to have received it because this is a beautiful, captivating and well written book that deals with themes of love, purpose, and self-discovery set during the period of political upheaval in Iran as well as tackling the subject of nuclear proliferation. This is pretty heavy stuff, but the author handles it beautifully and, in the process, we are treated to an extraordinary story of one woman’s coming of age in these turbulent times.

Spanning the years between 1977-2009, the book follows Amineh, a young Iranian woman who has come to Tehran to pursue a literature degree with the end goal of writing a book about her parents, meeting Farzah, an older man involved in the Iranian government’s nuclear energy department and who leads a group of international men and women seeking to stop nuclear weapons production and expansion. Amineh and Farzah’s journey as a couple is portrayed realistically. Their friends and family (Jalalod-Din (he was a wonderful character), Ava, Dariush, Patrik and Ariav) give the story great depth and enrich the story of these two characters. As the story is woven, I was drawn into the lives of these people, experiencing their “real” joys, pains, uneasy choices they had to make but believing in the hope of a better future.

I also especially loved the description of the food Amineh made – you could almost smell the aromas that must have wafted off the delicious food. Then there are the descriptions of the garden in Amineh’s home, the forest around Patrik’s home in Sweden, which for me at least were some additional enjoyable moments. But even the times when there were intense discussions about nuclear proliferation were captivating. You become engrossed in this story to the point you cannot put the book down. In the author’s Postscript, she shares that when she worked in Washington D.C. during the Bush (43) administration, she could find no literature on Iran that painted a positive view of this country or its culture, writing “A single story cements our perception of the others.” Hence this book can be seen as an attempt to create a different perception – which I believe she admirably achieved. This is a stellar book about love, hope, forgiveness, and healing. Highly recommend.