To Keep the Sun Alive – by Rabeah Ghaffari

Most of To Keep the Sun Alive takes places in 1979, immediately before and at the very start of the Iranian Revolution. In 1979, I was nine years old, the daughter of an active duty U.S. Marine. We watched the world news every night. The first time I ever heard of Iran was in 1979, when hostages were taken at the US Embassy in Iran. Being only nine, I didn’t fully understand what was happening or why. I just gathered that the hostages were taken because the people in Iran hated our culture. But in truth, I knew nothing about the true people of Iran, or the rich history of their culture. The hostage crisis was caused by the actions of a small faction of the population. Unfortunately, as I got older the only times I ever heard about Iran were when more frightening things were happening. And it became a country to be feared because it’s a danger for Americans to visit. I still knew nothing about the rich history and culture of the people.

With that backstory to my very limited knowledge, I hope you can see why I loved this book so much. It opened my eyes to a country I really knew nothing about. I learned so much through this book and the story of the family within its pages. They are a somewhat typical family that you’d find anywhere with their own internal struggles. The story follows two sets of brothers from different generations. One of each set was doted upon and given the world; the other was practically forgotten and forced to find his own way. The decisions and actions of the brothers come full circle in the story and there are consequences.

The writing is moving and poetic. The descriptions of the fruit farm the family gathers at for grand lunches, the food they prepare and eat at the lunches, the thoughts and dreams of the characters – it all feels so real and enticing. At times I just closed the book at the end of a chapter to visualize what I had just read. Simply beautiful.

There is real heart and soul in this book. I felt the anguish and pure love the characters felt as I read. I learned so much about the culture of the time and their history through stories the elder characters told to the younger generation.

I really can’t say enough good things about this book other than I loved it and am so glad I had the chance to read it thanks to my local library. If you get the chance to check it out, I hope you do! I’m giving this book five emotionally charged stars. When I read a book I truly love with all of my heart, I just hold onto it and hug it to my heart for a minute or so when I’m done with the last page. The last book I did this with was Fairy Tale by Stephen King. I did this with To Keep the Sun Alive as well. It will stay in my heart, most likely, for a lifetime. I found it that beautiful.

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