Sunday, May 10, 2015

Book review: Roseheart {a novel}

image courtesy of http://catherinedehdashti.com/

Imagine Bridget Jones hailed from Minnesota and her mother served red Jell-o salad rather than turkey curry. Imagine further that Bridget found love with a Persian Mark Darcy and moved in with him … and his mother.

Catherine Dehdashti’s "Roseheart {a novel}" is the story of irreverent and candid Valerie who summons us to the 1990s when black satin sheets adorned waterbeds, public smoking was legal, and Gen Xers struggled with post-college realities of grownup life. (I spent the better part of the last fifteen years carefully cultivating cynicism toward the decade that brought us bib overalls, grunge, and "Full House" and never thought I'd become nostalgic for it. Yet one page into "Roseheart" and I was reaching for my banana clips and Doc Martens.)

College is behind Valerie but she hasn't yet figured out adulthood. She's a bit of a pothead, waits tables at a local Iranian restaurant, endures an overbearing best friend/roommate, dates a wealthy but inattentive guy, and appeases her lovable but high-maintenance mom and sisters. She dreams of life as a writer. When she begins a romance with a regular from the restaurant Valerie's life changes dramatically, especially when boyfriend Naveed's mother comes to visit the new couple and never leaves. 

"Roseheart" is an exploration of relationships, none so defining as the one Valerie shares with her mother-in-law. Goli (Roseheart) and Valerie don't share a language, but they share a kitchen. Together they chop vegetables, simmer lentils into stew,  and learn to love one another.

Dedashti's wit allows sometimes painfully honest character development. Readers empathize with Valerie; we share her goof-ups, fears, secrets, and losses. We cheer for Valerie when she wins, and we cry with her when things don't go so well. Dehdashti creates a vivid regional background that will have locals nodding their heads with recognition and provide non-Minnesotans with clear details of life in the Twin Cities. Mouthwatering food descriptions will have you pulling your favorite Persian cookbook from the shelf, while reliving the 1990s will have you longing for a "Melrose Place" marathon.

"Roseheart {a novel}," 294 pages, is available for $14.99 at Common Good Books and other area bookstores, as well as online. Visit Catherine Dehdashti's homepage here: http://catherinedehdashti.com.

Obligatory friendship confession: Catherine Dehdashti is a friend and colleague. When she asked me to be a reader before "Roseheart" went to publication, I eagerly agreed. I had pretty high expectations of this book, because I've been reading Catherine's stuff for years and have always been a fan. I quickly realized this book is out of the park awesome. Nothing is better than having a friend who writes a novel you cannot put down, and nothing feels better than being able to tell your friend that her efforts rock!

2 comments:

stephanieann said...

Seriously can't wait to read this! Planning on making it a summer read once I'm officially on break from school!

patrice said...

You will love it!