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Reviewed by Carine Engelbrecht for Readers' Favorite
From the Ashes of Strife by I.J. Sarfeh opens with the explosive events of the Iranian Revolution. As the privileged son of a general in the Shah's army, Sohrab experiences the political tension from the safety of the family home, but when the family emigrates to the USA he enters a different type of struggle - prejudice and bullying. He learns to adapt, but while Sohrab and his mother Shireen enjoy greater liberties in America, his father Rostram pines for the glory days of his illustrious military career. When he decides to return to Iran, the whole family is plunged into a transformation that brings difficult choices and unexpected changes that no one could have foreseen.
To call this book a compelling read is an understatement. The author skillfully and vividly brings a cast of multi-faceted characters to life and explores the way their relations affect and influence each other. We see glimpses of a less privileged Iran filtered through in tales told by the family housekeeper, Ali, who grew up in the slums. But even for Ali, America brings new opportunities. Central to the story is the relationship between Sohrab and Rostram, which is at first plagued by conflict and misunderstanding, but which matures to mutual respect for the courage inherent in the choices of each. From the Ashes of Strife by I.J. Sarfeh lifts the veil on an Iran that lies beyond the seemingly impenetrable wall of religious fundamentalism. It is a requiem for a proud and intelligent society held hostage by fanaticism, but also serves as a reality check on some of the less obvious pitfalls of enjoying too much freedom.