Title: Rosewater and Soda Bread
Author: Marsha Mehran
Release Date: May 13, 2008
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Rating: *** (out of 5)
I was initially going to give this book a meager two stars. I didn’t really like it and I felt like I didn’t understand a lot of it. The author didn’t seem to explain anything – who these characters were and what in the world they were doing in the middle of Ireland. I was confused, a little lost, and just didn’t enjoy the experience of reading the book. I was even more puzzled after I got on Amazon.com and saw that the average rating for the book was 4 stars – were other readers getting something that I wasn’t? I admit, by about ¼ of the way through the book, I was skimming. Heavily. Through that process, I might have missed some key explanatory details. But no, all became clear when the word “sequel” caught my eye in an Amazon.com review. Then I understood all and bumped up my rating a star, just to be fair.
Rosewater and Soda Bread is actually a sequel to Mehran’s earlier book, Pomegranate Soup. I obviously wasn’t aware of this when I put Rosewater and Soda Bread on my TBR list, but I really wish I had been. I feel like read the books in order would have explained so much, and I actually might have enjoyed Rosewater and Soda Bread.
However, I still had issues, despite the lack of understanding. The characters seem to be extremely flighty, especially the 16-year-old Layla, who is insisting on having sex with her long-term boyfriend. The thing is, even the boyfriend seems ambivalent about having sex at such a young age. And not once did either of her sisters say “At least wait until you are eighteen.” Not once did her sisters ask her why she was in such a hurry to become sexually active. I’m not trying to start a debate on sexually active teens, but if it were my little sister, I would be concerned. I would be realistic – there would be nothing I could do to stop her, but I would still raise it as an issue. Granted, there was a lot going on in the book, and the Layla issue did get pushed to the side for quite awhile. But that still bothered me.
There were also a lot of loose ends that weren’t tied up. I’m guessing that is because the author is planning on writing another sequel, but unfortunately, I won’t be reading it, or the prequel either. I feel like if I had read them in order, my experience would have been much more positive, but as it is, I think I’ll just stay away from this series.