MOONLIGHT ON THE AVENUE OF FAITH by Gina B. Nahai

MOONLIGHT ON THE AVENUE OF FAITH

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Nahai (Cry of the Peacock, 1991) revisits Iran’s Jewish community as she tells the moving if not always engrossing tale of one woman’s struggle in a time of political turmoil. The saga of Roxanna begins in 1938 with her birth in Tehran’s ghetto, and ends in 1980s Los Angeles. It is as much the story of a family increasingly affected by outside events as it is a low-key exploration of the conflict between destiny and choice. Nahai cuts early to the past, as the now-adult Lili recalls how, as a five-year-old, she saw her mother, Roxanna, grow wings and fly away. (Other clumsy flirtations with magical realism include sunflowers that give off light, sorrow that turns into body fat, and white feathers found after dreams of flight.) Warned that she is the “bad-luck one,” the eight-year-old Roxanna is given away to Alexandra, an eccentric Russian refugee. After Alexandra’s death, Roxanna flees the ghetto, but finds herself trapped by love in a house on the “Avenue of Faith.” The house belongs to wealthy Teymur and his scheming wife, FrÑulein Claude; Roxanna marries their son Sohrab in order to be close to Teymur, whom she really loves. When their affair is discovered, she’s kept a prisoner in the house, and in desperation runs away, leaving Lili behind. Working first as a prostitute and then as kitchen help in Turkey, Sohrab sends Lili to school in Los Angeles. Then, as the Islamic revolution begins, Roxanna’s sisters flee to L.A.—where Lili, still mourning her mother, is unwillingly united with them, and eventually even with Roxanna, now bloated with sorrow and regret. Lots of action, local color, and adventure, but not enough to give Roxanna’s story the impact it demands. (First printing of 35,000; author tour)

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-15-100388-2
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Harcourt
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 1999




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