Dreaming in English
New American Library, 2011
I won this through LibraryThing's EarlyReviewers program, and was pretty excited - it sounded really good, and the cover is simply fascinating. When I got the book, I realized "Oops, it's a sequel? Um, okay - the library doesn't have the first one (Veil of Roses), but I'll be brave and go ahead..." For anyone else who may find themselves with Dreaming in English without having access to Veil of Roses, let me assure you: It'll be okay. There's enough 'remembering' that takes place during the story that I did not feel lost or confused. I will still track down and read Veil of Roses, but - right now anyway - I think the two novels can be read as stand-alone works, because of both the 'remembering' mentioned above, and the fact the story has a natural split in focus and theme.
Brief synopsis: Tami, a young Iranian woman, had to either marry an American or go back to Iran as her tourist visa expired. Dreaming in English picks up right after Tami and her true love Ike have eloped in Vegas with true knight-in-shining-armor-style. What follows is the battle for freedom that Tami must win to stay in America - not just battling her immigration issues, but also her own personal freedom. Growing up in the repressive state of Iran, Tami has only known the ideologies stating women are inferior, must be kept within certain boundaries, that expression of most kinds - male or female - is dangerous. She grew up knowing only how to live trapped by fear and unrealized, unchased dreams. She never tasted freedom until coming to America - and once here, she was entranced, fascinated, and addicted. But freedom isn't free - nor easy. You have to fight for it. And so this is the story of how Tami fought for her freedom. And it's a beautiful story - passionate, moving.
Reading America through Tami's eyes, I remembered all the good things I adore about my homeland. I realized all over again just how good I have it - to be an educated young woman with the freedom to do and be what I want. There are so many young women, all over the world, who haven't tasted these freedoms - or who may have stolen a sip, and now ache even more for the absence. And here I am. What am I doing with my freedom? What am I doing with the power to chase down my dreams and make them real? Am I fully realizing my American potential? Probably not. But I do know that I am proud of my country - of our willingness to fight for what we believe: that all people are worthy, and that freedom means more than electing your own officials and living by principles rather than dictation. Freedom means knowing your worth and believing that the impossible dream is maybe not so impossible after all. It's not often a book (particularly a novel), will turn my thoughts in that direction - but this one did, and I am thankful for the reminder.
Book provided by publisher for review.