The Sweetness of Tears

The Sweetness of Tears

3.99 (1,179 ratings by Goodreads)
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From Nafisa Haji, author of the critically acclaimed novel, The Writing on My Forehead, comes The Sweetness of Tears, an emotional, deeply layered story that explores the far reaching effects of cultural prejudice, forbidden love, and hidden histories on a young woman and her family. A paperback original from a superb writer whose first novel was enthusiastically praised by Khaled Hosseini, bestselling author of The Kite Runner and A Thousand Splendid Suns, Haji, an American of Indo-Pakistani descent, writes with grace, heart, and wisdom about the collisions of culture and religion, tradition and modernity played out through individual lives.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 383 pages
  • 134.62 x 198.12 x 27.94mm | 317.51g
  • New York, NY, United States
  • English
  • Original
  • Illustrations, black and white
  • 0061780103
  • 9780061780103
  • 96,689

Back cover copy

When faith and facts collide, Jo March--a young woman born into an Evangelical Christian dynasty--wrestles with questions about who she is and how she fits into the weave of her faithful family. Chasing loose threads that she hopes will lead to the truth, Jo sets off on an unlikely quest across boundaries of language and religion, through chasms of sectarian divides in the Muslim world. Against the backdrop of the War on Terror--travelling from California to Chicago, Pakistan to Iraq--she delves deeply into the past, encountering relatives, often for the first time, whose histories are intricately intertwined with her own . . . only to learn that true spiritual devotion is a broken field riddled with doubt and that nothing is ever as it seems.

A story of forbidden love and familial dysfunction that interweaves multiple generational and cultural viewpoints, The Sweetness of Tears is a powerful reminder of the ties that bind us, the choices that divide us, and the universal joys and tragedies that shape us all.
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Review quote

"The type of storytelling that opens the reader's eyes to other lives."--The Columbus Dispatch
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Rating details

1,179 ratings
3.99 out of 5 stars
5 32% (380)
4 42% (500)
3 19% (229)
2 4% (51)
1 2% (19)

Our customer reviews

Told in alternating points of view, this is a story that transcends time, religion, and culture. Josephine "Jo" March and her twin brother Chris are the great-grandchildren of THE Rev. Paul Pelton, son of an Oklahoma preacher later turned missionary. Their maternal grandmother, Faith, was born in China and is now a nurse and medical missionary. Ron, their maternal uncle, was the youngest ever televangelist and he continues his preaching. As Jo learns some things that have been kept from her, she finds herself on a mission to meet long-lost family members, and in turn, discovers many truths about the way our defined faith both unites and divides us. When Jo goes off to college, she studies both Arabic and Urdu with the intent of becoming a missionary herself, but ends up working for a private defense contractor as an interpreter for interrogations, and at the same time, her brother Chris signs up to fight in the war in the Middle East. The stories I loved most here were those of Sadiq and his mother Deena as Sadiq grows up in Pakistan. His mother's heartbreaking early life, with a father whose brother tricked him into leaving their wealth behind during Partition, the deception wrought on her to trick her into marriage with an unstable man, and her early widowhood at 19 made my heart ache for her. When the man-made "holy" law of Sharia forced her to give her son to his paternal grandparents to raise right before he turned 6, as a mother, I felt her pain. Reading their story, I came to a greater understanding of the historical divide between Shia vs. Sunni Muslims, as it somewhat parallels the historical emnity of some "Christians" vs. Jews. There are other tearful moments as well, as we read of some of the innocents caught up in the price of war, not just civilians, but even those who fight in the war, as Chris returns home with PTSD. All of these interwoven stories highlight not only our differences, but our similarities. Jo's search for identity leads her on a road of redemption through mistakes and tears, but I closed the book with a warm glow. Ms. Haji reveals a true gift for writing through her lovely prose. There were so many shining examples of almost poetic clarity that I had a hard time picking just a few to include here. This is definitely a must-read for those of us who like reading and learning about other cultures and have questions about faith, both Christian and Muslim. This book illustrates that we're not so different after all, and that love, loss, and more are a universal experience for all of us. QUOTES "These tears are the proof, Sadee, that there is love in the world. Tears are only bitter when we cry selfishly for ourselves. When we deny and forget the sweet love that tears are made of. When we let our sorry turn to anger. When people cry for each other, it is a good thing" ..... "you are opening your heart to God, who must see what we do and weep for us, too, for the suffering we cause to one another and to ourselves." Every woman should be looked at in such a way, at least once in her life. With a longing that cannot be contained - with love that goes beyond mere feeling because it transforms and - like the verse of the poem he had read - it dissolves, as an offering, a gift. It never occurred to me. That Abbas Uncle would later use the name of that same God against me. That he had consulted with lawyers and mullahs - all of them men. That they had told him that Sadiq belonged to him. That after he was weaned, I had no right to my own son. Writing: 5 out of 5 stars Plot: 5 out of 5 stars Characters: 5 out of 5 stars Reading Immersion: 5 out 5 stars BOOK RATING: 5 out of 5 stars Reading Groups: This would be a wonderful discussion book. I can picture the many threads that this would open more
by Julie Smith
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