From Publishers Weekly
Devastated by the accidental death of her five-year-old daughter, Aria, and still mourning for Aria's father, Justin, who died months before Aria's birth, Iranian-American Yasaman (Jasmine) Talahi embarks on a somber voyage of grief, with mixed results for Assefi's debut. From Arizona's Sonoran desert to the maize fields of Guatemala (where Aria's father had been a Peace Corps worker) to the holy places of Tibet, Jasmine, an oncologist schooled in rationality, searches for the spiritual enlightenment that might bring about her own healing. In the end, her yearlong odyssey brings her to Iran and to her parents, who reject her modern American lifestyle and with whom she has not spoken since before Aria's birth. Assefi, herself an Iranian-American physician, employs an awkward epistolary format, having Jasmine write to Aria, to Justin, to her long-dead grandmother, to friends and an ex-lover (some of whom write back). The letters are often stiffly formal, and the background information reads as forced. But Assefi's themes—loss as physical distance and the spiritual harm that can result from solitary grieving—come through. (May)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Her Iranian parents disowned Seattle oncologist Jasmine Talahi, who was born and raised in the U.S., for living with American Justin Avery and conceiving a child out of wedlock, her daughter Aria. They remained adamant not only when Justin died before Aria was born but even when, five years later, Aria was killed by a reckless driver. Feeling battered by repeated losses, Jasmine takes time off at a friend's Sonoran Desert vacation home. She writes her best friend, Dottie, that she wants to go to Guatemala, where Justin served in the Peace Corps. When there, she begins writing unmailed letters to Justin, Aria, and her deceased grandmother, and also letters-cum-journal-entries to Dottie and Alexander, a former lover. Obtaining little solace, she travels to Tibet for months at a nunnery. Not until a family reunion in Iran does she find a measure of peace. Despite spreading itself too thinly over such weighty issues as loss, grief, and estrangement from one's parents and heritage, Assefi's uneven epistolary novel is a promising first effort. Donna ChavezCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved