An idealistic young Iranian woman finds new life and purpose in America after having her heart broken in Marjan Kamali’s The Stationery Shop.
Teenage Roya passes her days with her nose in a book, focusing on her studies and scoffing at her younger sister, who cares more about her appearance and about boys than she does about anything else.
Roya finds refuge in the local stationery shop, whose owner Mr. Fakhri understands her need to be near the fine writing paper, fountain pens, and poems she adores. Mr. Fakhri introduces her to Bahman, a boy who he says will change the world. As Roya and Bahman fall in love in the sanctuary of the Stationery Shop, the book zooms out and shows their story against the backdrop of the Iranian revolution.
Roya wonders what happened to Bahman as she reflects on her life and her decisions. At the behest of her parents, she applies for a prestigious scholarship program, the first of its kind, for young women to study in America. There she once again focuses on her studies and attempts to heal her heart.
I found The Stationery Shop to be captivating in a way I wasn’t expecting. The author uses very few words to evoke the strongest emotions possible. At first I thought that this muffled the voice of her characters, but I realized it in fact amplified it.
It was beautiful to watch Roya develop and grow, in her self confidence, her awareness of the world, and her ability to allow herself and her life to be as it is. I particularly loved all of the scenes in kitchens around the world, as she recreated dishes she learned to make at her mother’s side for the people she cares for as an adult.
This was a lovely book–a real gem. I’m so grateful I read it and I treasured every page.