Review Blog

Sep 30 2013

Children of the jacaranda tree by Sahar Delijani

cover image

Weidenfeld &​ Nicolson, 2013. ISBN 9780297869030.
(Age: 13+) Highly recommended. Children of the jacaranda tree begins deep in Tehran's Evin Prison in 1983, where a woman gives birth to her baby girl. Corridors away, a man is making a bracelet out of date stones. He hopes that one day his daughter will hold it in her hands. A camera shutter closes and three children are fixed in time. They cannot remember their mothers' faces, but their mothers will hold the photos close to their hearts, imagining what goes on outside the prison walls. This book weaves together the legacies of these children and their mothers with the history of an oppressive and war-torn country.
Children of the jacaranda tree is part memoir, part condemnation of an oppressive regime. It is an important novel - that cannot be denied. From the very beginning, it provides a starkly realistic portrayal of the tension and oppression of Iran during the Iran-Iraq war (which was fought from 1980-1988), while never losing sight of its true message: the unending strength of the human spirit.
It's a beautifully written novel, filled with vivid description and it never ceases to captivate the reader. Like most books dealing with the somewhat tender subject of war, or of oppression and prisoners in Iran, it can sometimes be a hard book to read. There are many moments of great sorrow, pain and injustice, but they are almost worth it for the brief, yet wonderful moments of hope and happiness. The violence and pain in this novel is never gratuitous. It is handled delicately, and it is through these difficult passages that the author truly shows her talent and restraint.
Children of the jacaranda tree is at once a fascinating memoir of war-torn Iran, a condemnation of an oppressive regime, and an unending tribute to the human spirit.
I highly recommend this book.
Rebecca Adams (Student)

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