31 December, 2015

The Rose Hotel by Rahimeh Andalibian

Clinical psychologist Rahimeh Andalibian was born in the holy city of Mashhad, Iran. She moved with her family to California in 1986 after the Iranian revolution and Iran-Iraq war.

In this memoir she recalls her idyllic childhood in the 70s, lived with her four siblings in the prosperous and protected lap of her close-knit family. The onset of the revolution brings despair and disaster as the devout father gets caught in a web of religious and political dispute, the eldest son is falsely accused of a crime and executed, the beloved mother suffers a health crisis and is moved to London for medical care.

This forces a separation that scatters the family for a long period until they are once again united, within the confines of a small London flat. A second immigration takes them to California to start afresh – here, as they grapple with accepting and understanding life in the West, and alcohol, drugs, divorce and mental illness plague the children, they must also confront the secrets and hidden truths from their past. Finally, it is the fiercest love that allows each member to emerge from the shadows.

A powerful and perceptive story, I particularly enjoyed it for its insights into Iran and its Muslim culture, its examination of the universal family trait to always protect children in times of tragedy and for moving the reader with its understanding of
the internal revolutions experienced by each person in the family.

Author: Rahimeh Andalibian

Reviewed by Suneeta N, Highland Park Library

Suneeta particularly enjoys biographies, travel stories and reading authors from around the world. She loves a good discussion and believes that everybody has a story worth telling.

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