Persian Tea and Loving Notes for a Beautiful Life
- Author: Jasmine Lawi
- Genre: Memoir
- Publication Date: September 13, 2020/November 3, 2020
Thank you to Jasmine Lawi for generously providing me a copy of each of these books. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
Loving Notes for a Beautiful Life is a collection of journal entries written by Jasmine Lawi. In 1979, when she was 2 years old, Jasmine and her family said their last goodbye to their once beloved country, Iran.
Her real-life stories told through her journal reveal the toils of motherhood, the angst of childhood trauma, the sorrow after a shattered friendship, the delight in steamy romance and shame in forbidden love; and her tenacious faith in God before her dreams came true.
Loving Notes for a Beautiful Life is truly transformational. The stories expand dialogue and reveal Jasmine’s unfiltered emotions. They encapsulate loving notes to live a more joyous and courageous life.
Dear reader, this is your moment to add a new happy chapter to your life’s journal.
Persian Tea reveals unique coming of age stories about a Persian Jewish girl who fled Iran for freedom in America.
In 1979, when she was 2 years old, Jasmine Lawi and her family said their last goodbye to their once beloved country.
Persian Tea chronicles Jasmine’s and her family’s adventures: her father’s dare-devil encounter with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard, an intimate rendezvous with a music legend only after believing she was the FBI’s “Most Wanted;” navigating through the prickly terrain of private school; a close encounter with danger inside the Vatican; and intrepid journeys inside Israel, which ultimately changed her luck in life and reshaped her future.
Above all, the stories exemplify one’s true identity and essence; laughter in the face of evil; faith against fear; and love, when it was needed the most.
I “met” Jasmine through Instagram, where we both belong to a thriving community of Jewish accounts, and I connected with her through a mutual friend, who drew my attention to her upcoming books. Within minutes of us talking, she offered to send me copies of her books, and I jumped at the opportunity. I’m always interested in learning more about the history of Jews around the world, and Jasmine’s books offered an insight into the rich history of Persian Jews, which I’ve only recently started to learn more about. She shares a ton of amazing information and other cool posts, so if you’re on Instagram, check out her account here.
Normally, I only review one book at a time, but since these are slim volumes, I chose to include them both in one review. Plus, the subject matter overlaps a bit, so it just felt right to do it this way.
In Persian Tea, Jasmine not only shares her own story of leaving Iran, but also slips easily into first person to share the accounts from the point of view of her own father and grandmother. It made their own tales of life in Iran feel more personal, and highlights the incredible differences that the country underwent over the years.
While the Jewish community has had long-standing roots in Iran, conditions have changed dramatically with the Revolution, culminating in a situation in 1979 that became untenable for many Persian Jews. Jasmine and her family were fortunate to escape, although stories about her family in earlier years show a huge difference in how Jews lived in the country — often living successful, happy, and fulfilling lives.
However, coming to America came with a new set of challenges. As we all know, kids aren’t always the most accommodating of differences, and Jasmine experienced that first-hand. Her humor shines through her writing, especially of her childhood experiences:
“Did Queen Esther have it this rough? I fathomed she did. Like me, Esther was Persian and Jewish. She escaped death and I escaped Khomeini. I was a modern-day Queen Esther skillfully attempting to navigate the evil decrees of Jewish Day School when all I really wanted was to be accepted unconditionally.”
The funny experiences that she has when she moved to Israel only got better, and I enjoyed reading about her life. She definitely seems like someone I’d want to hang out with, if only we didn’t live so far away from each other! Although she also talks about the cultural issues associated with being Persian, and how it affects her as a naturally sensitive person:
“Most Iranians were raised to believe that crying and sharing one’s pain is shameful.”
Those issues are highlighted even more in Loving Notes for a Beautiful Life. These are a collection of journals excerpts that are more reflective, and broken into three sections: struggles of the present, lessons of the past, and a hope for the future. Each one talks about a specific incident or episode in her own life, and relates it to larger issues. It got me to thinking about how so many of these are things that I understand, or also do, and how I can apply these lessons to my own life.
“I wish I can say goodbye to worry, but how can I? It’s so hard when lamenting the challenge becomes the challenge itself.”
Once again, Jasmine’s humor and kind nature practically leap off the page. I found myself smiling or nodding along as I read many of these entries, either because I could completely identify with what she was saying, or simply because they were humorous in the way she related them. This is the type of book that I can definitely picture myself picking up over and over again, if only to flip it open to a random page and check out the question at the end of the entry. I especially loved the question at the end of the first entry, which simply asks:
“What in your life is worth pursuing despite the risks?”
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Categories: Book Review