Friday, May 22, 2009
Last month I saw the author speak (at two different panels) at the Festival of Books and I was intrigued enough to hunt down a copy of Caspian Rain.
From the best-selling author of Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith, a stirring, lyrical tale that offers American readers unique insight into the inner workings of Iranian society.
In the decade before the Islamic Revolution, Iran is a country on the brink of explosion. Twelve-year-old Yaas is born into an already divided family: Her father is the son of wealthy Iranian Jews who are integrated into the country's upper-class, mostly Muslim elite; her mother was raised in the slums of South Tehran, one street away from the old Jewish ghetto.
Yaas spends her childhood navigating the many layers of Iranian society. Her task, already difficult because of the disparity in her parents' worldview, becomes all the more critical when her father falls in love with a beautiful woman from a noble Muslim family. As her parents' marriage begins to crumble and the country moves ever closer to revolution, Yaas is plagued by a mysterious and terrifying illness. But despite her ailment, when she learns that her father is about to abandon her and her mother — to immigrate to America with his mistress — Yaas is determined to save herself and her family.
At once a cultural exploration of an as-yet-unfamiliar society and a psychological study of the effects of loss, Caspian Rain takes the reader inside the tragic and fascinating world of a brave young girl struggling against impossible odds.
So. I'm kind of stumped. Sounds great, huh? Thing is, I like the idea of this story, but I wasn't so keen on the actual book. I had a hard time getting into the story, because of the writing style. And I can't really explain why. I was never drawn into it to the extent that I forgot my surroundings. The chapters felt abrupt and the characters never fully engaged me. I did like the hints of magical realism (although I don't think the author would call it that...she made reference in one of the panels to how older cultures are more able to suspend disbelief) and the end pretty much floored me. But overall? Not really my cup of tea.