Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Together Tea by Marjan Kamali

Morning, all! Today's another two stop day. First, I'm on the TLC book tour for Marjan Kamali's Together Tea.

In 1978, Mina's family left behind the tragedy and turmoil of Iran to start fresh in America. Since then, Mina has always felt like she wasn't either fully Iranian or fully American, but rather something in the middle. She's given up her passion for art in exchange for getting her MBA and she's suffered through enough awkward teas with possible marriage matches to last a lifetime. Then one day, Mina figures it out. She wants to return to her roots and visit Tehran. 

Her mother, Darya, is surprisingly supportive, insisting on accompanying her daughter on what could be a dangerous vacation. Unbeknownst to Mina and the rest of her family, Darya has been homesick for Iran and her family. She too has been struggling to figure out her place in things: all of her kids are grown, her husband has his career, and Darya isn't quite sure where she fits anymore.

At first, I wasn't convinced this was going to be my cup of tea (pun somewhat intended). The first part of the book didn't really grab me at all. Darya and Mina were somewhat interesting but I wondered if they'd really be enough to carry the whole book. Fortunately things picked up after the two women decide to travel to Iran.

The book is split into three sections: 1996, 1978, and back to 1996 with Darya and Mina's arrival in Tehran.

The second section in 1978 is where I really thought the book began to shine. All of the family is there through the previous regime and the overthrow - Mina is ten at the time. Kamali does a really great job of illustrating the struggles of the average person in the country. The family and friends and how they react to what's going on around them - and the family's own losses as a result - force Darya and her family to leave suddenly with the hope that in America things will be better for them. And they have to start from scratch. Darya's husband, a doctor back in Tehran, works at a pizza place while going back to school so that he can practice in the States while Darya herself works full-time at a dry cleaning shop. All so they can give their kids a new life without the restrictions and fear their old one had started to encompass.

The third portion of the book in Iran kept the momentum and appeal of the second section, and there's even a little bit of a twist with Mina's love interest. Unfortunately, throughout the book, I never got as strong of a sense of either character as I had hoped for. Instead, it's their culture and heritage that become the driving force and most appealing aspect of the story.

Rating: 3/5

To see more stops on the tour, check out the official TLC tour page here.

For more on Marjan Kamali, visit her website here. You can also like her on Facebook and follow her on Twitter.

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