Rummanah Aasi
  Sometimes I find it hard to believe that my mother was my age at one point in time. I know this sounds stupid- it sounds worse as I type it out-but I think it's the natural tendency to believe that your parents are frozen in time. As if they have always been the same as you've known them. Sure, you get glimpses of their past through shared memories both good and bad, but are those memories truthfully told? And would you want to know the whole truth even if it might change the way you look at them now? These are the questions I asked myself when I read The Saffron Kitchen by Yasmin Crowther.

Description: Sara and her mother, Maryam, never really got along. Maryam has always been distant and her past is constantly shrouded in mystery. Maryam, is an Iranian woman, daughter of a general and member of a well-respected family during the Shah's reign. When she became separated from her family at the start of the revolution and was sheltered overnight by Ali, her father's servant, her life was forever changed. Disowned by her father, she moves to Tehran to become a nurse and then to London, where she meets and marries Edward, a fine and gentle man who adores her. When the story begins, their daughter, Sara, born in England, married to an Englishman, and ignorant of her mother's haunted history, is newly pregnant. When she miscarries, during a dramatic confrontation with her mother and her young Iranian cousin, years of secrets and pretending unravel at last. Maryam decides to go to Iran, to distance herself from these events. Will Maryam return to Edward and England or stay where she is once again at home?

Review: I really enjoyed reading this book. At face value, it can be read as a multicultural book where there is a clash of two distinct cultures and generations. However, I feel this perspective limits the richness and complexity of the book. Ultimately, The Saffron Kitchen is a book that explores the relationships amongst families as well as the values, particularly of freedom and honor,  that families uphold. I loved all of the characters in the book. Not all of the characters are perfect nor are their relationships, but that's what makes the book realistic and heartbreaking. Readers will constantly ask themselves, like I did, on whether Maryam's actions of fleeing to Iran selfish or a flight for survival. Crowther's description of Iran is very vivid and I could easily picture myself there. I did have a little problem in the abrupt transition between Sara and Maryam's storylines, but otherwise I thought this book was well written and a great read in trying to understand the traditions and the people of pre and post Iranian Revolution.

Rating: 4.5 stars

Words of Caution: Sex is implied in the book and there is some language. I think this book would be fine for mature high school readers looking for a great book on understanding Iran.

If you like this book, try: The Joyluck Club by Amy Tan or The Tea House Fire by Ellis Avery
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