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Where Jasmine Blooms: A Novel
     

Where Jasmine Blooms: A Novel

by Holly S. Warah
 

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To the Mansours, an Arab American family living in Seattle, love knows no borders. But despite our best efforts, sometimes love—and family—are foreign to us . . .

American-born Margaret Mansour wants nothing more than to rekindle the struggling twenty-year marriage to her Palestinian husband, Ahmed—but not if it means uprooting their home

Overview

To the Mansours, an Arab American family living in Seattle, love knows no borders. But despite our best efforts, sometimes love—and family—are foreign to us . . .

American-born Margaret Mansour wants nothing more than to rekindle the struggling twenty-year marriage to her Palestinian husband, Ahmed—but not if it means uprooting their home and children in America and moving halfway across the world.

Young and ambitious Alison Mansour has a degree in Near East Studies, but her American education and Syrian background are of no use when her new marriage begins to crumble under the weight of cultural and religious differences. The communication between Alison and her husband is already shaky; how will they cope with the arrival of their first child?

Zainab Mansour, the matriarch of her family, never expected to live in America, but after the death of her husband she finds herself lost in a faithless country and lonely within the walls of her eldest son’s home. She wants what’s best for her children but struggles to find her place in a new landscape.

Emerging from the interwoven perspectives of these three women comes a story of love and longing, culture and compromise, home and homeland. Exploring the complex political backdrop of the Middle East from a personal perspective, Where Jasmine Blooms travels from the suburbs of Seattle to the villas of Jordan and the refugee camps of the West Bank, on an emotional journey exploring what it means to be a family.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rich with culture, Warah's debut novel deftly intertwines these three women's tales of longing and sacrifice . . . A heartfelt journey to discover the joys of family and home." —Kirkus reviews
Kirkus Reviews
2017-02-02
Three women at different stages of life struggle to reconcile their own desires with the expectations of clashing Arab and American cultures in this first novel by an American woman who married into an Arab family.After 20 years of marriage to Ahmed, a Palestinian-born restaurateur, American-born Margaret is beginning to have doubts. Although still a practicing Muslim, she hasn't worn the hijab in years, not since she caught sight of herself in a mirror and did not recognize the old woman staring back at her. Her frustrations have only grown since her recently widowed mother-in-law, Zainab, has moved in, with her stifling prejudices against non-Arab and non-Muslim ways. Zainab herself isn't entirely happy with the situation. Certainly, her eldest son ought to give his own mother refuge, but living in America affronts everything Zainab values. Even worse, her younger son, Khalid, has brought home another American bride, Alison, a student of Near Eastern studies. Of Syrian descent, Alison is at first intrigued to join a real Arab family, yet she tries to maintain her independence, watching rather than participating in daily prayer practices, for example. But Khalid soon begins monitoring her dress and behavior, shifting Islamic culture from her course of study to a scarf constricting her every movement. Tensions increase when Alison discovers she is pregnant, and she wonders whether motherhood will tether her even more tightly. Meanwhile, Ahmed announces a job offer in the United Arab Emirates, which pushes Margaret to realize the limits of her acculturation. Rich with culture, Warah's debut novel deftly intertwines these three women's tales of longing and sacrifice. Yet at times the characters fall flat; Zainab in particular seems smothered by stereotypes, as she focuses unceasingly on her faith, family, and lost homeland. Consequently, the final epiphanies, while emotionally bursting, seem too easy. A heartfelt journey to discover the joys of family and home.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781628727494
Publisher:
Skyhorse Publishing
Publication date:
04/18/2017
Pages:
392
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x (d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Praise for Holly Warah's Where Jasmine Blooms:

“Steeped in the smells, flavors and customs of the Palestinian culture, Warah gives us a family quietly roiling under modern and time-worn conflicts. We watch as they, sometimes quietly and sometimes with riveting raucous, struggle to reconcile disparate cultures, harrowing politics and the place for individualism. The matriarch carries her anxieties like rattling chains, the western daughter-in-law waffles on whether her mixed marriage home is stifling or supportive, and a newer mixed marriage teeters even as it produces a child. This keenly told story of an immigrant family straddling two continents is a worthy read as we plod through a world grappling with pluralism.” —Nadia Hashimi, internationally bestselling author of The Pearl That Broke Its Shell

“Warah’s prose irresistibly draws the reader into the inner world of one Muslim-American family with an authenticity obviously learned from a lifetime within. Where Jasmine Blooms is rich and multi-layered . . . a rare gem that stays in the reader’s thoughts long after the last page is turned.” —Jenny Jones, author of All Roads Lead to Jerusalem

“Luminous, tender observations about cross-cultural relationships, the sacrifices made; about accepting differences in beliefs, and ultimately about the understanding and love required to function as a supportive family unit. An absorbing read!” —Amita Trasi, author of The Color of Our Sky

"An intimate portrait of a clan, skillfully rendered. Where Jasmine Blooms shatters boundaries and shows us how to love when the going is tough." —Bharti Kirchner, author of Season of Sacrifice: A Maya Mallick Mystery

“An assured debut that deftly illuminates the pain, joys, and compromises involved in cross-cultural marriage . . . Warah clearly understands the world about which she writes, sensitively portraying the worlds and worldviews of both Palestinian men and American women.” —Jennifer Steil, author of The Ambassador's Wife

“Read this heartwarming story and, as you peel the layers of religion and culture, you will find that the heart and soul of an American woman is no different from that of an Arab.” —Sabeeha Rehman, author of Threading My Prayer Rug

"Three women. Three relationships to family, home, culture, and Islam. Three intimate struggles to make it all work. Warah deftly ferries readers between the United States and the Middle East, capturing the complexity of life as a woman in Arab culture and illuminating the possibilities of the human heart. A remarkably timely story." —Kristin Bair O’Keeffe, author of The Art of Floating and Thirsty

"Holly Warah weaves an engrossing tale of three women negotiating cross-cultural differences and definitions of love and relationship." —Alia Yunis, author of The Night Counter

“Holly Warah's writing—clear-eyed, generous and full of affection for her all-too-true characters and the places they call home—is exactly what the world needs to read right now.” —Zora O’Neill, author of All Strangers Are Kin

Meet the Author

Holly S. Warah has traveled widely throughout the Arab world. She has lived in the region for seventeen years and been married into an Arab family for twenty-eight years. Her short fiction has won a national award, first place in The Writer magazine’s 2011 Short Story Contest, as well as several regional awards, including first place in the 2010 Pacific Northwest Writers Association (PNWA) Literary Contest and first place in the 2011 Southwest Writers Writing Contest. Holly has a master’s degree in teaching English as a second language and has taught for more than ten years in Seattle and Dubai, where she now lives.