by Donia Bijan ‧ RELEASE DATE: April 18, 2017
Poignant and absorbing, the book explores the pull not only of family, but of the place we first call home.
This lyrical debut novel, an immigrant saga and coming-of-age story, provides a tantalizing look at Iran pre- and post-revolution.
It begins with a present-day reunion: Noor, sent to America to study when the Islamists took over in the 1970s, has returned to Tehran to visit her beloved father, Zod. She is accompanied by her teenage daughter, Lily—Noor and the girl’s father are divorced—who wants no part of the homecoming. The ailing Zod runs a diminished version of Café Leila, once a celebrated restaurant with an adjoining hotel and lush garden, where Noor and her brother grew up: “[It] contained their history, everything important had happened here,” the author writes. “It had been her entire world, an oasis where on hot summer afternoons they drank iced mint sherbets under a canopy of trees.” The book then flashes back, filling in the story of how Zod’s parents emigrated from Russia to Iran, his studies in Paris as a young man, and his blissfully happy marriage to Noor’s mother, Pari. It also traces Noor’s often lonely life as an émigré in northern California. In Tehran again, the focus shifts to Lily and her transition from a belligerent wild child to an almost grown-up who begins to embrace her Persian roots. There is drama aplenty in these pages—involving Pari’s untimely death, in particular—but everything feels authentic; the writing is precise and self-assured. The author, an Iranian émigré who became a chef in America (publishing a recipe-laced memoir, Maman's Homesick Pie, 2011), sprinkles her novel with sensuous descriptions of food, underlining its connection to memory. And she tells her story from multiple perspectives, creating sympathetic characters with rich inner lives. If the ending isn’t completely satisfying, it’s at least pleasantly unexpected.Poignant and absorbing, the book explores the pull not only of family, but of the place we first call home.
Pub Date: April 18, 2017
Page Count: 304
Review Posted Online: Feb. 4, 2017
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 2017
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by Kristin Hannah ‧ RELEASE DATE: Feb. 3, 2015
Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Hannah’s new novel is an homage to the extraordinary courage and endurance of Frenchwomen during World War II.
In 1995, an elderly unnamed widow is moving into an Oregon nursing home on the urging of her controlling son, Julien, a surgeon. This trajectory is interrupted when she receives an invitation to return to France to attend a ceremony honoring passeurs: people who aided the escape of others during the war. Cut to spring, 1940: Viann has said goodbye to husband Antoine, who's off to hold the Maginot line against invading Germans. She returns to tending her small farm, Le Jardin, in the Loire Valley, teaching at the local school and coping with daughter Sophie’s adolescent rebellion. Soon, that world is upended: The Germans march into Paris and refugees flee south, overrunning Viann’s land. Her long-estranged younger sister, Isabelle, who has been kicked out of multiple convent schools, is sent to Le Jardin by Julien, their father in Paris, a drunken, decidedly unpaternal Great War veteran. As the depredations increase in the occupied zone—food rationing, systematic looting, and the billeting of a German officer, Capt. Beck, at Le Jardin—Isabelle’s outspokenness is a liability. She joins the Resistance, volunteering for dangerous duty: shepherding downed Allied airmen across the Pyrenees to Spain. Code-named the Nightingale, Isabelle will rescue many before she's captured. Meanwhile, Viann’s journey from passive to active resistance is less dramatic but no less wrenching. Hannah vividly demonstrates how the Nazis, through starvation, intimidation and barbarity both casual and calculated, demoralized the French, engineering a community collapse that enabled the deportations and deaths of more than 70,000 Jews. Hannah’s proven storytelling skills are ideally suited to depicting such cataclysmic events, but her tendency to sentimentalize undermines the gravitas of this tale.Still, a respectful and absorbing page-turner.
Pub Date: Feb. 3, 2015
Page Count: 448
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online: Nov. 19, 2014
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2014
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by Colleen Hoover ‧ RELEASE DATE: March 18, 2014
Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable...
Awards & Accolades
New York Times Bestseller
Sydney and Ridge make beautiful music together in a love triangle written by Hoover (Losing Hope, 2013, etc.), with a link to a digital soundtrack by American Idol contestant Griffin Peterson.
Hoover is a master at writing scenes from dual perspectives. While music student Sydney is watching her neighbor Ridge play guitar on his balcony across the courtyard, Ridge is watching Sydney’s boyfriend, Hunter, secretly make out with her best friend on her balcony. The two begin a songwriting partnership that grows into something more once Sydney dumps Hunter and decides to crash with Ridge and his two roommates while she gets back on her feet. She finds out after the fact that Ridge already has a long-distance girlfriend, Maggie—and that he's deaf. Ridge’s deafness doesn’t impede their relationship or their music. In fact, it creates opportunities for sexy nonverbal communication and witty text messages: Ridge tenderly washes off a message he wrote on Sydney’s hand in ink, and when Sydney adds a few too many e’s to the word “squee” in her text, Ridge replies, “If those letters really make up a sound, I am so, so glad I can’t hear it.” While they fight their mutual attraction, their hope that “maybe someday” they can be together playfully comes out in their music. Peterson’s eight original songs flesh out Sydney’s lyrics with a good mix of moody musical styles: “Living a Lie” has the drama of a Coldplay piano ballad, while the chorus of “Maybe Someday” marches to the rhythm of the Lumineers. But Ridge’s lingering feelings for Maggie cause heartache for all three of them. Independent Maggie never complains about Ridge’s friendship with Sydney, and it's hard to even want Ridge to leave Maggie when she reveals her devastating secret. But Ridge can’t hide his feelings for Sydney long—and they face their dilemma with refreshing emotional honesty.Hoover is one of the freshest voices in new-adult fiction, and her latest resonates with true emotion, unforgettable characters and just the right amount of sexual tension.
Pub Date: March 18, 2014
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: May 6, 2014
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