Even though it was published in Jan. 2007, which is waaaaaaaaaaay past the “appropriate” time in which one should do a book review (within 6 months of release at least), I would be doing you all an injustice if I didn’t tell you about Veil of Roses by Laura Fitzgerald. A debut author, Fitzgerald took a new twist on the chick lit genre (if you can even classify this book as chick lit) by introducing us to Tamila “Tami” Soroush, a young woman from Iran visiting the United States on a 90-day visa with the purpose of finding a Persian husband so she won’t be forced to live a life of oppression in Iran.
Tami’s life is very small in Iran where she is forced to hide her beauty behind a hejab (head cover) and perhaps marry an older Iranian man that she does not love while living in a country where she is not valued, simply because she is a woman. Having resided in the United States themselves, Tami’s parents send their daughter to live with her married sister, Maryam, in Tusc0n. Maryam sets to work immediately trying to “hook” Tami up potential suitors (think My Big, Fat Greek Wedding), but alas, Tami falls in love with the iconic American man–Ike who works at Starbucks. Ike is equally smitten with Tami; however, Tami’s culture forbids this romance.
Perhaps the most intriguing parts of the book come when Tami is exploring her new environment, how she marvels at the freedom of American women to wear shorts and couples to mingle in open-air cafes sipping lattes. She carries a camera with her to take pictures of everyday freedoms to which she is denied in Iran. Looking at my world through a Tami’s eyes offers such a fresh perspective on liberty. She experiences, savors, and views her new world with wide-eyed wonder. Even the air in America is cleaner as pollution runs rampant in her home country.
What I loved about this book was that it wasn’t typical at all and Tami isn’t guaranteed a happy ending. Until the last few pages, I was left wondering–Will she go back to Iran? Will she marry the creepy guy? What about Ike, who she loves? I was so enraptured during the last few chapters, I stayed up until 3:30 AM to find out what would become of Tami. The heroine of the tale is a well-created character who reminds readers about first love and true love, and while romance is part of the story, it is not at all sexual. Yet there are steamy scenes of passion, which are not at all raunchy (think a 27 year-old Persian girl getting her first kiss–whoa! It really is intense). Not only that, the character dialogue and interaction is witty and very human, which adds to the interest of a tale.
I immensely enjoyed Veil of Roses and am glad my mother thrust it into my hands saying, “You have to read this!” If I could read out to all of you through my computer screen, I would say the same thing, “You have to read this!” That is, if you like interesting cross-cultural fiction that offers depth and insight into other cultures, dynamic and amusing characters and good story-telling. If you don’t like that, then you should probably avoid this book altogether.