Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Children of the Jacaranda Tree by Sahar Delijani

The opening chapters of this compelling book, describing the callous treatment of a political prisoner, can rival any scene in any dystopian science fiction novel. But this is not a book about a cruel future. The political prisoner in this book is a woman in post-revolutionary Iran, a woman who is about to give birth. In 1980’s Iran, many young men and women who disagreed with the Islamic Republic were swept off the streets and out of their homes and into prisons. Young children were left behind and had to be cared for by extended family.  In one such family, these children became the CHILDREN OF THE JACARANDA TREE, referring to a tree in their grandparent’s garden. While the grandparents and aunt struggled to care for them, imprisoned parents turned their thoughts to their children to comfort them through their most difficult times which included poor living conditions, isolation, torture and execution. Life outside of prison was also not easy. The theocratic government interfered in every aspect of private life, imposing dress codes, rationing and curfews. An eight year war with Iraq brought fear of bombing raids and the death of many young men.  Sahar Delijani, who was herself born while her mother was in prison, follows this extended family for nearly thirty years.  When, in 2009, political strife in Iran leads to protests in the streets and results in beatings and arrests and killing of young men and women, history appears to be repeating itself. The children of the Jacaranda tree and their own children are drawn into the same fight their parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles fought. 

Check out Children of the Jacaranda Tree @ the library!