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A Girl Called Rumi
by Ari Honarvar

Published: 2021-09-21T00:0
Paperback : 350 pages
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"A magical journey to a world of mystical delights.” -- Deepak Chopra, MD

A Girl Called Rumi, Ari Honarvar’s debut novel, weaves a captivating tale of survival, redemption, and the power of storytelling. Kimia, a successful spiritual advisor whose Iranian childhood continues to ...

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Introduction

"A magical journey to a world of mystical delights.” -- Deepak Chopra, MD

A Girl Called Rumi, Ari Honarvar’s debut novel, weaves a captivating tale of survival, redemption, and the power of storytelling. Kimia, a successful spiritual advisor whose Iranian childhood continues to haunt her, collides with a mysterious giant bird in her mother’s California garage. She begins reliving her experience as a nine-year-old girl in war-torn Iran, including her friendship with a mystical storyteller who led her through the mythic Seven Valleys of Love. Grappling with her unresolved past, Kimia agrees to accompany her ailing mother back to Iran, only to arrive in the midst of the Green Uprising in the streets. Against the backdrop of the election protests, Kimia begins to unravel the secrets of the night that broke her mother and produced a dangerous enemy. As past and present collide, she must choose between running away again or completing her unfinished journey through the Valley of Death to save her brother.

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Discussion Questions

1. When Kimia is in her mother’s house in California, she finds the red scarf she once used as a cape in Iran. What do you think it represents? Why is it important to the author to have that object show up at the beginning of the novel? Which objects endure throughout the novel and which ones quietly disappear?

2. Author Ari Honarvar believes in joy as a revolutionary act. Even in the midst of trauma and the most brutal of circumstances, storytelling, music, and beauty can help people survive. How do you see those themes play out in A Girl Called Rumi? What are some of the scenes where you see joy appear in the midst of despair within the novel? How about in your own life?

3. In the Seven Valleys stories, which bird reminds you of yourself and what holds you back? Why or how?

4. Why do you think Roya wants to return to Iran? Does she accomplish what she sets out to do?

5. Kimia and Reza build stone towers in the courtyard and take a blood oath. Did you have a best friend in childhood? What games or memories do you hold dear?

6. Why do Kimia and Reza give false names to Baba Morshed? Do you suspect the old man knows they are lying? What’s the significance of each name?

7. Where does the number thirty appear in the novel? What does it mean, if anything?

8. Morteza has been holding a deep grudge and letting the anger gnaw at him for decades, while elevating his own sense of importance. How does he treat his staff and his family? Does the story change him? What do you think about his future?

9. What do you make of Kimia’s cutting? What do you think it means to have someone so successful in counseling others not be able to let go of her own past?

10. Kimia and Reza write their initials in tiny print on walls around Shiraz. Kimia spots one set of them during her return trip. What do you think the author is saying about the endurance of the written word?

11. Kimia says, “My mother is besotted with the splendor of her own madness, while I do all I can to maintain a cordial relationship with my own.” How does madness manifest in each character? Are there differences between the glorious madness experienced by mystics, neurodivergence, and/or mental health issues in need of care?

12. What objects or scenes stand out to you as you think about the author’s use of color? The red cape, the emerald eye of the Simorgh, what else?

13. Do you admire Amu Doctor? Why or why not? Each character has experienced significant losses in their lives—but Amu Doctor forgives quickly and with graciousness. Do you think you would have handled learning the truth about a situation, so many decades later, with the same calm he shows?

14. The calligram of the dancer featured between sections of the novel features this Rumi verse:
Even if from the sky
poison befalls all
I’m still sweetness
wrapped in sweetness
wrapped in sweetness
wrapped in sweetness . . .

Is this a lens through which you can view Kimia’s journey? Arman’s? Roya’s?

15. Who’s the hero of A Girl Called Rumi?

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