In Together Tea, Marjan Kamali’s delightful and heartwarming debut novel, Darya has discovered the perfect gift for her daughter’s twenty-fifth birthday: an ideal husband. Mina, however, is fed up with her mother’s years of endless matchmaking and the spreadsheets grading available Iranian-American bachelors. Having spent her childhood in Tehran and the rest of her life in New York City, Mina has experienced cultural clashes firsthand, but she’s learning that the greatest clashes sometimes happen at home.
After a last ill-fated attempt at matchmaking, mother and daughter embark on a return journey to Iran. Immersed once again in Persian culture, the two women gradually begin to understand each other. But when Mina falls for a young man who never appeared on her mother’s matchmaking radar, will Mina and Darya’s new-found appreciation for each other survive?
Together Tea is a moving and joyous debut novel about family, love, and finding the place you truly belong.
Kamali's debut, set in the mid-'90s, is the story of Darya and Mina Rezayi, mother and daughter in a family that emigrated to the U.S. from Iran after Mina's grandmother was killed by an Iraqi bomb. One of three children trying to live up to their parents' expectations, Mina would rather paint than finish her MBA. But mostly she wishes her mother, a frustrated mathematician, would stop creating spreadsheets of eligible Iranian-American men, who have so far all disappointed her. Darya's husband embraces the can-do American spirit, but she misses prerevolutionary Iran, with its emphasis on family and tradition, and accompanies Mina on a visit to their homeland. The book's second part takes place in Tehran, but during the revolution and the early years of the war with Iraq. Kamali's lyrical writing is particularly vivid here, and warm, as with the many descriptions of tarof, a Persian verbal tradition. Although there are differences in Mina's and Darya's American experiences, the author effectively evokes the pull both women feel toward Iran. She creates empathy for a people forced to live one life in public and another privately.
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Great book. I didn't want to put it down.