So glad we read this book. I really enjoyed it. I'm sad I forgot that there were some passages I wanted to share before I returned it to the library. Whoops.
1. Marina's experiences were truly extraordinary. Did this make it difficult for you to relate to her? In what aspects of her life and personality did you connect most with Marina? At what points did you have the most difficult time connecting with her? What surprised you most about Marina?
2. Marina's feelings for Ali are complex and wrenching. On page 231, Ali says, "I wanted you, but I'm not that selfish. If there was a way, I would have let you go, and then I would have probably killed myself with a clean shot in the head." Do you believe him, or do you think his actions were motivated solely by his desire? Ali's mother tells Marina that he is "a good man." Do Marina's feelings for Ali's family change her opinion of him?
3. The imagery of the "washable" nature of the written word occurs throughout the book, such as when Marina sees Sarah's body covered in tiny words: "And she washed the words off her skin. The Book of Sarah. Alive, breathing, feeling, hurting, remembering" (page 119). Later, when Marina returns from Evin, she learns that her mother has destroyed her books and her grandmother's life story: "Washed books. The written word drowned, silenced" (page 259). Why is it significant that washing words destroys rather than cleanses them? How does this imagery of "washed words" apply to Marina's story?
4. On page 237, Marina and Ali have an argument about the execution of political prisoners. Ali supports the idea of self-defense, while Marina responds, "I will not kill another human being." With whom do you agree? Why do you think that Marina's and Ali's parallel experiences as political prisoners resulted in opposite viewpoints? Do you think that gender plays a role in their reactions?
5.When Marina and Andre decide to illegally marry, he says to her, "I know that marrying you is dangerous. But I want to do it. We can't give in. We're not doing anything wrong" (page 264). Do you think their decision to marry illegally is brave or foolish? Is it significant that these words come from Andre, who had not been imprisoned, rather than Marina?
6. When Marina returns after two years in Evin, she "felt like a stranger" at home; she wonders if the lack of questions about her experience is "their way of protecting me or protecting themselves." This conversation echoes the one between Marina and her husband at the beginning of the memoir, when he apologizes for "not asking" about her experience. Are Marina's parents and Andre protecting her, themselves, or both? Do you think Marina would still have shared her story with the world if she had originally been able to speak about it with those closest to her? Why?
Thanks for participating!! Hope you join us in November!