Andalibian’s autobiographical novel chronicles the last days of the Shah of Iran and the beginning of the 1979 revolution. Her father owns The Rose Hotel, luxury accommodations for religious pilgrims to the town of Mashhad. Her father is also a devout Muslim who, like many in Iran at the time, believes that Ayatollah Khomenei would bring much needed change to Iran.
As history has shown, life in Iran did not improve for most people. The author’s eldest brother Abdollah becomes a casualty in the early days of the new regime. Even though the author’s parents never tell their children that Abdollah was killed, this tragedy goes on to haunt the family even after they flee Iran for England and later Los Angeles.
Rahimeh Andalibian writes with grace and beauty about the Iran she remembered from her early childhood: the sights, the smells, the food. In her early adult years, Andalibian decides to study clinical psychology, and in the process starts therapy to address her unresolved issues from her brother’s death. She writes about how her two older brothers spiral into self-destructive behavior and how it takes decades for them to come to terms with Abdollah’s imprisonment and execution.
This novel is a vivid account of the upheaval in Iran surrounding the 1979 revolution and the ways in which families try to cope with loss. The author’s background as a psychologist gives special insight into how families and individuals can come to terms with unresolved bereavement.
Reviewed by Susan Blumberg-Kason for IndieReader