I’ve been on an audiobook kick recently and have been really lucky with my random picks from my library’s Overdrive collection.
When a novel sticks with me days after I’ve finished reading it, then I know it’s one I’ll recommend to my friends. What I most about debut novel Together Tea by Marjan Kamali is all of its many strong, richly developed female characters. The women aren’t perfect, but they’re real and raw. Thanks to talented narrator Negin Farsad, I cannot get their voices out of my head.
The book blurb for novel makes it sound like a romance, but the novel is truly about learning to accept who you really are and finding community.
When she was only 10 years old, Mina and her family left Tehran in the middle of the night to escape Iran’s new conservative and religious landscape. Her father and mother toiled as immigrants in New York City to give Mina and her two brothers freedom they wouldn’t have had in Iran. Now as an adult, Mina feels lost as she attempts to straddle being American and Iranian. In order to escape business school and her mother’s matchmaking, she propose a return trip to her homeland. Her mother Darya, who has always been homesick, joins Mina on their two week trip. The trip becomes a soul searching for both mother and daughter.
The novel alternates between Darya and Mina’s point of view. We get a inside look at the complexities of culture and identity, especially for those who are part of the 1.5 generation of immigrants like Mina. We also get a glimpse of their lives in Tehran before and during the revolution. We learn how hard it was for strong women like Mina and Darya to adjust to the new conservative laws that restricted how they dressed, how they walked, and who they looked at in public.
Reading Together Tea made me realize that I live in a big bubble here in the United States. I don’t normally give Iran a passing thought except when the country’s politics pop up on the news. I never gave much thought about Persian culture and its beautiful history–until now.
I highly recommend the audiobook of Together Tea. Negin Farsad gave each character distinct voices and cadences so it was easy to distinguish who was speaking. They were so alive and fun! She made me want to sit down for tea with Mina, Darya and their friends.
I hope the next audiobook I borrow my library is as good as Together Tea.