Ahoy there me mateys! As a reader I tend to have me favorite genres and authors. However I also like to experience new cultures and ideas. That is one of the best things about having this Log – I get recommendations on novels from readers all over the world.
One of me more favorite things going around the blogosphere is the call to read more diverse books. This particular novel was called to me attention by Aimal @ bookshelves and paperbacks in one of her diversity spotlight thursday posts. It deals with a female/female relationship in the Middle East. I sadly know little about that part of the world outside of some few non-fiction books I have read. I do believe in the rights of LGBTQ persons and so the look into a culture dealing with a rather unspoken issue intrigued me. I picked up a copy.
The story is set in Tehran, The main protagonist, Sahar, has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since she was six and has always wanted to marry her. This story is told from her point of view. Nasrin, does love Sahar but is conflicted about going against her parents and society’s expectations. Their love could spell death for both of them if they are found out. Then, Nasrin’s parents arrange a marriage for her. How is Sahar going to handle this and what can she do to stop it?
Sahar’s perspective is heart-wrenching. If possible, I like to write me reviews immediately after finishing a book so that I can capture me thoughts clearly. But this novel had me pondering for hours about me feelings of the culture, religion, and interpersonal relationships of the characters. Also how do ye write a review of a novel about a culture that you know so little about and have only this one author’s work on a serious issue to form an opinion? Well here goes . . .
Ultimately this book seems to this Captain to be a realistic portrayal of young forbidden love in a very conservative society. In particular, I found the transgender issues to be eye-opening. I had no idea that the culture and religion in Iran allowed for transgendered people to undergo sex-reassignment surgery. Of course, just because it is allowed that does not make the choices or consequences easy. The book was very clear on that.
In terms of characters, I loved Sahar. She is intelligent, loyal, and loving. She literally seems willing to go through any lengths for her love. I was not as enthralled with Nasrin. Though her love for Sahar did seem genuine, she also seemed like a spoiled rotten brat pretty much throughout the entire novel. I did try to empathize with how enormously hard it would be for her to go against society and her parents and face negative consequences. But alas, I felt that Sahar always deserved better.
Why? Because in this story young teens’ love can somehow always seem to be the end all be all of life. Sahar seems to be the one willing to give up everything for love. Nasrin takes a more traditional and in some ways more realistic approach.
Do I wish with all my heart that Sahar and Nasrin could have had their choice to be together fulfilled? That they lived in a society where being together could have been a viable choice? That they could somehow live happily ever after. Yes. Very much yes.
But from a different perspective, Nasrin wanted children. I don’t know about alternative means of having children in Tehran but would it even be possible if she and Sahar had stayed together? Would Sahar grow to be fed up with Nasrin’s selfishness? Would an everyday relationship grown to be a strain without the “forbidden aspects” of their relationship adding spice? I am not saying that first love is lesser or that their relationship seemed false. It definitely seemed real in this novel. But life does force unwanted paths sometimes. The ending of the novel seemed to suggest that life would somehow work out for the both of them but perhaps not ever in the manner in which they first wanted. At least I hope so . . .
So I found this novel to be compelling, thought-provoking, and certainly worth everyone reading. I will continue to foray into diverse books. It may not make me a better person but the perspectives are certainly not my own and they different cause me to challenge my own understandings and for that I am grateful . . .
Want to find out more about this author?
Check out The Hub’s diverse books spotlight on Sara Farizan.
Want another good blogger who promotes diverse books?
Check out Naz @ read diverse books
Goodreads has this to say about the novel:
In this stunning debut, a young Iranian American writer pulls back the curtain on one of the most hidden corners of a much-talked-about culture.
Seventeen-year-old Sahar has been in love with her best friend, Nasrin, since they were six. They’ve shared stolen kisses and romantic promises. But Iran is a dangerous place for two girls in love—Sahar and Nasrin could be beaten, imprisoned, even executed if their relationship came to light.
So they carry on in secret—until Nasrin’s parents announce that they’ve arranged for her marriage. Nasrin tries to persuade Sahar that they can go on as they have been, only now with new comforts provided by the decent, well-to-do doctor Nasrin will marry. But Sahar dreams of loving Nasrin exclusively—and openly.
Then Sahar discovers what seems like the perfect solution. In Iran, homosexuality may be a crime, but to be a man trapped in a woman’s body is seen as nature’s mistake, and sex reassignment is legal and accessible. As a man, Sahar could be the one to marry Nasrin. Sahar will never be able to love the one she wants, in the body she wants to be loved in, without risking her life. Is saving her love worth sacrificing her true self?
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