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A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea: A Novel | [Dina Nayeri]

A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea: A Novel

Growing up in a small fishing village in 1980s Iran, 11-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are fascinated by America. They keep lists of English vocabulary words and collect contraband copies of Life magazine and Beatles cassettes. So when Saba suddenly finds herself abandoned, alone with her father in Iran, she is certain that her mother and sister have moved to America without her. Bereft, she aches for their company, and for the Western life she believes she is being denied. All her life she had been taught that "fate is in the blood", which must mean that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea.
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Publisher's Summary

Spellbinding in its narration, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is the story of an Iranian girl who, separated from her mother and twin sister during the turmoil following the Iranian Revolution, invents a rich, imaginative world in which they live.

Growing up in a small fishing village in 1980s Iran, 11-year-old Saba Hafezi and her twin sister, Mahtab, are fascinated by America. They keep lists of English vocabulary words and collect contraband copies of Life magazine and Beatles cassettes. So when Saba suddenly finds herself abandoned, alone with her father in Iran, she is certain that her mother and sister have moved to America without her. Bereft, she aches for their company, and for the Western life she believes she is being denied. All her life she had been taught that "fate is in the blood", which must mean that twins will live the same life, even if separated by land and sea.

Thus, over the next several years, as Saba falls in and out of love and struggles with the limited possibilities available to her as a woman in Iran, she imagines a simultaneous, parallel life, a Western version, for her sister. But where Saba's story has all the grit and brutality of real life in postrevolutionary Iran, her sister's life - as Saba envisions it - gives her a freedom and control that Saba can only dream of.

Filled with a colorful cast of characters, A Teaspoon of Earth and Sea is told in a bewitching voice that mingles the rhythms of Eastern storytelling with straightforward Western prose and tells a story about the importance of controlling your own fate.

©2013 Dina Nayeri (P)2012 Blackstone Audio, Inc.

What the Critics Say

"Embracing and embraceable culturally far-reaching fiction." (Library Journal)

What Members Say

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  •  
    MissSusie66 03-21-13
    MissSusie66 03-21-13 Member Since 2010

    MissSusie

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    "great narration!"

    When Saba is 11 years old she remembers her twin sister Mahtab and her mother getting on a plane to America and leaving her and her father in Iran…This is what she remembers but is this what happened?

    I felt Saba was an unreliable narrator she makes up this whole life for her twin sister Mahtab and her mother they go to America and she has this free American life and goes to Harvard and becomes a journalist which is Saba’s dream. As a reader you will have an inkling in the back of your head as to what really happened where they really are but until it is actually revealed you want to believe Saba. Also the reveal for me wasn’t what I expected but I don’t want to say too much more about that!

    Saba is not always likable but yet you feel for her. Saba always felt like she was missing out so she made up these wondrous stories of what her sister was accomplishing in the US even though she had a pretty normal upbringing considering it is Iran in the 80’s it isn’t till she is older ,well marrying age, that this doesn’t quite hold true anymore. I kind of felt bad for her father at times, I felt like she treated him like a second class citizen when he was all she had and was trying his best, and I was glad to see that as she got older she realized this.

    This is a really good story though at times a little hard to follow, it was nice to read a story about Iran that didn’t have so much violence , yes there is some but it comes from something/someone different than you will expect it to. This is the story of a family and a young girl’s life without her twin and mother and how that affects her entire life and who she becomes.

    Sneha Mathan narration is well done her accent is not to strong; I think it's just the right amount to convey they are in Iran. She has a great voice and I thought she really helped convey the emotions of everyone she narrated. This was my first book narrated by Sneha Mathan but I don’t think it will be my last as I really enjoyed her voice.

    4 Stars

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 05-01-14
    Daryl Edmonton, Alberta, Canada 05-01-14 Member Since 2008
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    "How many teaspoons...?"
    What did you like best about this story?

    I enjoyed the shifting back and forth between Sabba's and her sister's imagined life in the USA. You know that she is imagining these things to cope with... well, with what?... but the stories are so gripping and paralleled that you can't look away.


    Which character – as performed by Sneha Mathan – was your favorite?

    Sabba. She acts so strong, and then realizes her actions are those of someone weak - a trait she can't abide in others.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would the tag line be?

    Life after Revolution.


    Any additional comments?

    This book is primarily told in the third person... but there are portions that are first person - Hanom Basir, Dr. Zore. Sneha Mathan is a talented narrator, but there are others who could or should have narrated these parts.

    This is a book that should be swallowed in teaspoons. There are portions of brutal violence, double-talk, cruelty, hope, love... to read it at one sitting is a disservice to this talented author.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
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