Together Tea #Giveaway

5 Minutes for Books reviewer Elizabeth received a review copy from TLC Book Tours. Click through to find out more about this book and author.

Mina and her mother Darya  have a common type of relationship. Mina’s just turning 25, and has lived in the US since she was 11 and fled the Iranian Revolution. (Together Tea is set in 1996. Thank you for noticing that the Iranian Revolution wasn’t 14 years ago) She and her brothers have been pressured into excelling, and they have. One brother is a doctor, another an engineer, and Mina herself is a business student although she longs to pursue an art career.

Mina’s mother is concerned that her daughter isn’t married yet, and she spends a lot of time finding out about eligible young Iranian bachelors, with impeccable degrees and families and other credentials. She creates spreadsheets on them and shows them to Mina, who rolls her eyes.In fact she has the perfect  birthday present for Mina–tea with the single and successful Mr. Dashti.

Mina misses her old mother, the Darya she knew in Tehran as a child. This mother had long black hair and laughed frequently, instead of having bright red dyed hair and a throbbing forehead vein as she shouts at things. She agrees to the tea but things don’t go well, and Mr. Dashti seems as relieved about that as she is.

Mina decides to travel back to Iran, and her mother decides to come with her. The storyline goes back to 1978-80, during the build-up to and the actual revolution, when suddenly women weren’t allowed out without a headscarf and long coat, and gangs of armed men roamed the streets looking for anyone violating this rule. It returns to a time when Mina was part of an extended family, well-known and well-loved, and Darya knew her place in the world and how that world functioned, and that place was home in a way a new land can never be.

Together Tea looks at both mother-daughter relationships and the hardships of immigration, as Mina feels herself  dancing on the hyphen of the label “Iranian-American.” Is she Iranian? Yes of course, but at the same time, no, it’s no longer home. Is she American? With memories of war and revolution, with a home different from her classmates, no, not entirely, but yes, it’s the place she wants to live.

One thing I loved about Together Tea was how well it captured the immigrant experience. For immigrants, “home” remains frozen in time and the things of that particular time and place are honoured and almost enshrined. For those who never leave, however, culture changes and life moves on. Darya and Mina both experience the bittersweetness of this, as Mina learns that not all Iranian children are pressured to excel in school as if that was all in life, and that boys and girls her own age are dating, albeit in secret. She sees how her own mother, safe in America, keeps her children tightly reined in, in a culture she views as promiscuous. Ironically, back in Iran in an extremely repressive society, her friend’s mother behaves in the opposite manner, allowing her daughter to stretch boundaries to the limit. The trip allows mother and daughter to view each other afresh, and strengthens their relationship.

I loved this book. Although she didn’t flee war, my own immigrant mother struggled with living in a place that was home to her children but never entirely to her. Together Tea also portrays very well the struggle between many mothers and daughters as the daughters need to find their own way in a new world but still need their mother’s advice, food and love.

Highly, highly recommended.

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  1. Angel S. says

    I focus on the mother/daughter relationship. My mom is very ill and in end stage renal failure. I am looking at each day as a gift.

  2. Anne says

    This book is delightful for the interaction of the mother and daughter as well as the amusing aspect of the novel.

  3. Julia says

    I am excited about this book since it is about immigrants and the challenges that they have. Plus I love to drink tea.

  4. says

    I enjoy reading books about relationships between mothers and daughters; I had a special bond with my own mother but saw a strained relationship between my mom and my grandmother. I hope I have a great relationship with my daughters!

  5. Aisha says

    I’m the daughter of an immigrant father and a U.S.-born mother. Books like Together Tea always appeal to me.

  6. Anita Yancey says

    It sounds like an interesting book. I like that it has some history in it and that it’s about a culture I know little about.

  7. Tina says

    Love, love love, this novel. It’s a story very close to my own, with my very traditional immigrant parents.

  8. Kerrie Mayans says

    I like that it is about a mother and daughter and their struggles as immigrants. I have a friend who immigrated here and she struggles with her own teen daughter wanting to be too “American” for the mom.

  9. says

    Sounds like a wonderful read for moms and daughters to share!

    Thanks for being on the tour. I’m featuring your review on TLC’s Facebook page today.

  10. Georgia Beckman says

    It appeals to me because it is going to let me see another culture & understand it in a way that I otherwise may not know.

  11. Bonnie says

    It sounds like a great story about the hopes that many immigrant parents have for their children and the balance between the old country and new country. Many have gone through this experience.

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