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Parastoo Rezai
Remembering Hope
When Bahar uprooted her world to move overseas and start a family, she left behind her friends, loved ones, and a promising legal career in Iran. Over a twenty-year marriage, she and her husband, Omid, raised two precious boys and built the life they had always dreamed of. But their happiness is shattered the day Omid receives a devastating diagnosis. Emotionally and financially broken, Bahar chooses to keep the truth from her sons for as long as possible. Little does she know that more hardships loom on the horizon. Freedom, adventure—perhaps even love—could offer her a second chance at happiness, but only if Bahar can find an inner-strength and fortitude she never knew she had. Remembering Hope is a story of devotion, courage, and the power of new beginnings.
Rezai’s touching debut follows a woman coming to terms with her husband’s cancer diagnosis. Bahar, mother to fifteen-year-old Kayvon and his younger brother Koosha, is faced with mounting medical complications following her husband Omid’s cancer surgery; despite his terminal diagnosis, she is determined to remain strong for her sons. Nostalgic for their “old life,” and reflecting on their initial meeting over 20 years ago—when she flew from Iran to London—Bahar craves the idyllic days spent together before their marriage and subsequent move to San Diego. She manifests an unshakeable resilience that carries her through, even as she faces her own cancer diagnosis and the financial difficulties of Omid’s medical practice.

Rezai deftly uses flashbacks to highlight Bahar’s years with Omid, both painful and moving: “The sparkler candles produced a halo-like glow on Omid’s face that choked me up…This moment was the last happy memory Omid and I shared as a couple.” She heightens those recollections with descriptive language that transplants readers into the midst of the couple’s daily lives, including eloquent depictions of the meals they share, their family interactions, and an intense focus on Bahar’s sorrow over Omid’s declining health. The narrative also spotlights Bahar’s determination to forge ahead and take the bar exam, despite her own challenges with chemotherapy treatments, highlighting the character's strength and tenacity.

Though some of the author’s metaphors are strained—“expanding my cheeks into two over-inflated balloons”—the even pacing and heart-warming style will win readers over, and Rezai’s emphasis on Iranian culture adds a welcome realism while drawing attention to the experiences of (and discrimination against) Iranian women. This compelling exploration of one woman’s sorrow over her husband’s disease and her fortitude to put the needs of her sons first propels this novel swiftly forward to its satisfying, emotion-filled conclusion.

Takeaway:This emotionally charged novel finds a woman persevering in the face of her husband’s terminal diagnosis.

Great for fans of: Marjan Kamali’s The Stationery Shop and Jasmin Darznik’s Song of a Captive Bird.

Production grades
Cover: A
Design and typography: A
Illustrations: N/A
Editing: B
Marketing copy: A