"When people cry for each other, it is a good thing. Always remember that and never try to suppress the tears that flow from the love in your heart.... That is the secret we were born to learn. The secret of the sweetness of tears." (ch. 2)Title: The Sweetness of Tears: A Novel by Nafisa Haji
400 pages. William Morrow Paperbacks; Original edition (May 17, 2011)
Source: review copy from publisher.
Objective rating: 4/5
Product description: The Sweetness of Tears is a story of forbidden love and a family story that interweaves multiple generations and cultural viewpoints.
When faith and facts collide, Jo March—a young woman born into an Evangelical Christian dynasty—wrestles with questions about who she is and how she fits into the weave of her faithful family. Chasing loose threads that she hopes will lead to the truth, Jo sets off on an unlikely quest across boundaries of language and religion, through chasms of sectarian divides in the Muslim world. Against the backdrop of the War on Terror—travelling from California to Chicago, Pakistan to Iraq—she delves deeply into the past, encountering relatives, often for the first time, whose histories are intricately intertwined with her own . . . only to learn that true spiritual devotion is a broken field riddled with doubt and that nothing is ever as it seems.
My comments: I like that the story is told from several different perspectives by people from different generations: Jo, Sadiq and Angela, Deena, and Faith. Jo's doubts about herself begin when, as a student learning biology, she realizes that the blue color of both her parents' eyes mean that her eyes should also be blue. But her eyes are brown. Her mother's confession leads Jo on a mental and emotional journey to find out the truth about her parentage.
I believe the book is an attempt to show how East and West can connect in a positive way, how different cultures and people can live together in harmony and co-exist in peace. Jo is the symbol of this co-existence.
About the author: Nafisa Haji is the author of The Writing on My Forehead, which was a finalist for the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association Book of the Year Award. She is a Californian of Indo-Pakistani descent, born and raised in Los Angeles. Her website is http://www.nafisahaji.com/