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 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781628727494
Publisher: Skyhorse
Publication date: 04/18/2017
Pages: 392
Sales rank: 845,404
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About 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.

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

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Where Jasmine Blooms: A Novel 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Interesting culture piece. The ending seemed somewhat contrived.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book much more than I thought I would. The different points of view give the reader insight into Arab American life, but the characters and story telling are equally compelling.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
An interesting book with new points of view. Well developed characters. An enjoyable read.
DubaiReader1 More than 1 year ago
Cross-cultural marriage. This excellent book is primarily an observation into the issues of cross-cultural marriage, its joys and problems, as seen through the eyes of three women. However, it is also so much more, for not only does it delve into the lives of displaced Palestinian families living in America, it also shows us life in the refugee camps of Jordan, portrays the business of Palestinian weddings and takes us on a visit into Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The three main female characters represent three generations; Zainab, the elderly, recently bereaved mother-in-law, Margaret, married for twenty years to Zainab's son, Ahmed, and Alison, recently graduated and about to marry Zainab's younger son, Khaled. Zainab is a displaced Palestinian, living in America and Margaret and Alison are both American (although Alison has Syrian roots). Tragically, the author died not long after publishing this book, so her planned sequel will never see the light of day - a sad loss for us all. As a general rule, we are not an overly generous book group when it comes to the star ratings at the end of our discussion, but this novel was almost unanimously a 4/5 star book for our members. The author had planned, several months before, to join our meeting and we were were sorry not to be able to pass on our enthusiasm. However, we were very lucky to be able to invite one of her writer's group to our discussion to help explain some of the background to the story and fill us in on interesting editorial changes. This is an excellent read, highly recommended...and the cover is stunning.
MGreading More than 1 year ago
This brilliant, rich novel portrays how decisions get made between a man and a woman within a cross-cultural marriage, and between each person within an extended multicultural family. It explores how one’s marriage and family can provide satisfaction and frustration inherent in devoted responsibility to other people. It also zeroes in on the individual desires of three women and two men, and the varied ways they respond to how their marriages and families constrain their freedom and their dreams. Because two of the women are from Seattle, and they marry Palestinian men, this story of personal politics is told within the larger politically-charged situation they find themselves in. It takes us from Seattle suburbia to a variety of Mideast communities, including a Palestinian refugee camp. Thus this book explores power relations between family members within a greater political context of power relations between large populations of people. I loved this book. The author puts us into the heads of three women. One tender scene is between a young wife and her mother-in-law, and I was struck by how rarely stories portray such moments. The ending was more complex, nuanced, surprising, and satisfying than I expected. The plot, setting, and characters provide a unique story experience, even while leading us on a journey through universal truths.