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The Sweetness of Tears

3.99  ·  Rating Details ·  1,128 Ratings  ·  188 Reviews

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 M

Paperback, 400 pages
Published May 17th 2011 by William Morrow Paperbacks (first published May 4th 2011)
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Will Byrnes
Jun 12, 2011 Will Byrnes rated it really liked it
The final chapter of The Sweetness of Tears begins with the following quotation:
They that sow in tears shall reap in joy – Psalm 126, v 5
There is enough sowing here for a spring planting. For a few minutes at the beginning of the book I thought this might be an edition of the new Lifetime series Chick-Lit, South Asia. But it turned out to be an intelligent, content-rich novel, reminding me very much of the work of Thrity Umrigar. Haji takes a close look at two families from different worlds, o
Jun 11, 2011 Kate rated it really liked it
There were some passages in this book that just took my breath away with the strength of emotion they entailed...

"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 sorrow turn to anger. When people cry for each other, it is a good thing...When you cry for are opening your heart to God, who must see what we do and weep for us, too,
I've been struggling to write my review of The Sweetness of Tears for weeks now and cannot adequately put into words the impact the book had. Ms. Haji's story of family, politics, and religion delves into topics that most people consider to be too sensitive to discuss given their proximity to current events, but she does so the sensitivity that the situation warrants. Jo March's quest uncovers family secrets while allowing the reader the chance to put aside biases and view current events from an ...more
This is a FANTASTIC novel by Nafisa Haji, that speaks about love, for family, for God, and for oneself. Whatever expectations I had of this book, Nafisa Haji trumped and exceeded all of them. It is a beautifully written novel, one that is sure to evoke many emotions in its reader.

The book revolves around Jo, who comes from a conservative Christian family, but finds herself questioning her faith all the time. During her spiritual struggle, she comes to find out the startling truth about her past,
Feb 28, 2013 Maru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji is, in many ways, a book about eliminating lines: the lines between good and evil, the lines between cultures - Muslim&Christian, Pakistani&American, Shia&Sunni -, the lines between faith and doubt, between joy and sorrow, between right and wrong. Through the lives of two different families, one Christian and one Muslim, we are led into a world of greys, a world where there is no black and white, where lines become blurry and the question of what ...more
Jun 07, 2011 Vivian rated it it was amazing
It’s rare to read a book that truly touches me, especially when the subject matter is far removed from the reality that is my life, but The Sweetness of Tears by Nafisa Haji did just that, touched me. This isn't a sad story. It isn't filled with tragedy and sorrow nor is it filled with happiness and joy. It is, quite simply, filled with the ups and downs, the mistakes and corrections, as well as the joys that make up life.

The life and experiences of Jo March are at the core of this story. She re
Aug 09, 2011 Beth rated it it was amazing
I loved this book!
It has an interesting story line, great multi-dimensional characteros and a lot of cultural information about Pakistan and Pakistani-Americans. Each chapter is told from a different characters perspective which allows the reader to see each one from both inside and out. There is an intersting dichotomy going on between Evangelical Christians of the missionary and televangelist ilk and the Muslims - both Sunni and Shia. All of it comes together in a fascinating story.

Highly reco
Aug 10, 2011 Laurie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2011-52-in-52
"The Sweetness of Tears" is now one of my all-time favorite novels - and that's such a surprise because I chose it solely because I liked the cover art! This novel covers so much so beautifully, I cannot put it into words. What does family mean? Peace, war, forgiveness, truth, finding your path... it's all in there in an engaging story without ever once being preachy. Read this one and pass it on to your friends, your family, anyone who will read!
NancyL Luckey
Mar 12, 2011 NancyL Luckey rated it it was amazing
This is one of the best books I've read in a long time.
An evangelical Christian family in California connects with Muslims in Pakistan and Iraq through Jo, a twin within the Christian family. The Christian Matriarch, Faith, is a dedicated missionary with compassion for the world but not so much for her family.
We meet the Muslim woman in a heartbreaking situation caused by Muslim (man's) law.
The "Sweetness of Tears" refers to tears cried for others.
Mar 20, 2012 Kristine rated it really liked it
This book has all the makings of a blockbuster for me. I loved the allegory of the Monkey and the Crocodile. They CAN be friends. The Shia/Sunni or Christian/Islam gap CAN be overcome. it's not easy, but when one looks upon the heart, it can happen.

Jo March is a twin being raised in SoCal by two wonderful Evangelical Christians. Slight problem, in high school science she her faith crumbles as she realizes this brown-eyed set of twins couldn't have come from two blue-eyed parents. She leaves for
Keilani Ludlow
May 25, 2012 Keilani Ludlow rated it really liked it
Really likable book! The author starts with the "main" character (though there isn't fully one main character) and then as that character interacts with others, they each tell their story and you learn more background and get a broader perspective from the different points of view. I like how she builds the story through the reminiscences and current events experienced by different characters.

The story involves the intertwining of an evangelical christian family and a Muslim (part Shiite and par
Emily Crowe
Aug 09, 2011 Emily Crowe rated it really liked it
In her second novel, Haji gave me all of the emotional involvement that I was looking for in The Submission by Waldman, but didn't find, so it was very interesting reading these two books back to back. This paperback original is a three generational family saga that spans the globe from California to Africa to the Middle East and back again, and like The Submission, religion (particularly Islam and evangelical Christianity) and politics are the very heart of the novel. It's a story of both cultu ...more
Nov 30, 2013 Iznaya rated it it was amazing
A merging of cultures, religions and personal experiences that won't leave my mind.
I was very impressed with the rendering of the Christian Evangelical tradition and with the elements within it that question the broader assumptions - particularly the vignette at the end of the book that does to smug Evangelicals what I have wanted to see for some time, and would still like to in real life.
My reading has been leading up to this book, so many aspects of it from Islam to life in Pakistan for women,
Lara Zuberi
Dec 28, 2012 Lara Zuberi rated it it was amazing
The Sweetness of Tears is an intelligently written, touching story of three generations. Jo, the main character, finds herself searching for her true identity when she tries to answer questions that arise in a genetics class. That search sends her on a journey of discovery not only in terms of parentage, but also one that transcends cultural and religious boundaries.
It is written from the angle of 4 characters, all narrating their story in first person, a style which some readers find hard to fo
Sep 25, 2012 Connie rated it really liked it
Jo March was raised in a famous evangelical Christian family, but never felt that she totally embraced the faith of her family. When she was eighteen, she found out the truth about her parentage. This led her to persue a degree in foreign languages and to learn about the Muslim world. At first her language talents were used by a security firm interrogating prisoners after 9/11. She eventually traveled to Pakistan, learning about her Muslim relatives. She also visited with survivors of the war in ...more
Aug 01, 2012 Kelly rated it really liked it
Liked this book. It was an easy read--a plot-driven novel. Very easy to get into. I read it quickly, anxious to find out what happened to the characters. I liked how it opened the world of Islam to its readers through the eyes of an evangelical Christian girl. This made it more accessible to me personally... easier for me to relate to than some other books I've read dealing with similar topics, because it was told from a perspective that I already understand. I also liked a lot of the themes the ...more
May 09, 2011 Jessica rated it really liked it
I received this book through a goodreads giveaway.

Another beautifully written book. Just gorgeous. A book about belief, doubt, faith, and love. A book about family and secrets. A book about Christianity and the Muslim religions. A book about truth and lies. This book opened my eyes because it was told in such a simple, elegant, beautiful manner. I was absorbed in it. I started to cry towards the end, at the pain within the pages. And then the hope in it. There was hope. I love the concept of the
Kelsey Burnette
May 26, 2012 Kelsey Burnette rated it really liked it
Stick with this book through its twists, turns, explorations, and even the parts that trouble you or that you disagree with. Haji courageously grapples with the things we aren't supposed to discuss in polite company--religion, politics, war, peace, faith. But if we can't talk about these things in a meaningful and respectful and thoughtful way, then what is the point exactly? Ultimately, Haji's message is one of optimism and discovering the true meaning of faith--what it is to love God, to love ...more
Aug 03, 2011 Jennifer rated it liked it
This book started out being quite good, but by the end I'd just had it. It definitely could have used some editing and been shorter. The story is very good and the writing is wonderful. Why do authors have to ruin a perfectly good novel by getting too political? By the end, I felt like I was reading a Muslim textbook and trying to be convinced, that all religions are so similar and can't we just all get along? When the Iraqi translater said "they [the Americans] came for oil, they came for their ...more
Yomna Zaki
Oct 19, 2012 Yomna Zaki rated it really liked it
A very touching novel, emphasizing the importance of faith tolerance.

We live in a world where not only people of different religions argue, fight, and look at each other differently (Ex: Muslims vs. Christians) but also people of different divisions within the same religion (Ex: Sunnis and Shi'aas)

This book brings a couple of those different religions and divisions together, and shows us the human side in them all.

It also talks about the mistakes and wrong decisions we all take, and how it's be
Oct 30, 2011 saferia rated it it was amazing
Kudos to Haji for writing such an amazingly heroic novel that's relevant to modern times. Haji tackles issues of family (secrets, blood-lines, and devotion), current events and relations between the USA and the Middle-East, faith and religion, as well as realistic views of a young woman coming into her own in the twenty-first century. Nothing seemed forced or unnaturally out of place in this story that told bittersweet tales from the past and present, and that intertwined the lives of Americans ...more
May 08, 2012 Gaby rated it it was amazing

I really enjoyed this book. It explored a lot of current issues like the differences between Muslims and Christians and how we are all just people able to learn to appreciate and love each other. Other issues it explores are the damages of war and separation of parent and child during the formative years. I really liked that the book had a happy ending where I felt that the characters had grown and learned from past mistakes.
May 14, 2012 Maryann rated it really liked it
Do not be discouraged by the slow start. It is meant to provide valuable background and characterization for the story. That story, and related ones, unfold through character narrations per chapter. What a way to get the whole picture and the kaleidoscope of perspectives. This author is exceptional, and this novel is written with a depth of observations and insights, enough to make it compelling for me. It was definitely a GOOD READ!
Aug 16, 2015 Rebecca rated it it was amazing
This is a book I savored. Its characters were well drawn, flawed while relatable and likable. It made me think about family, the burden of secrets and the power of forgiveness and redemption. Who are enemies? What distinguishes family from outsiders? What burdens do cultural norms put on us once we become aware of them? This would be a great book club selection. Televangelists, Elvis, bi-polar disorder and Islam all in a sound story. Loved it!
May 11, 2011 Nicole rated it it was amazing
This is a great book! It's great that you get different perspectives telling the story, it really opens it up and helps you to relate more to what is going on. Different perspectives give an insight into the story more so than it being told from one person. This book was quite enjoyable, and contained so much emotion that I felt as if I was being wrapped up and thrown into the book myself. This will definitely be a book that I will read again.
Apr 05, 2012 Jane rated it it was amazing
I definitely recommend this book! I had to really get a grasp at first of the lives of the Mother, daughter and grandaughter as Haji wove the story between past and present, but she is a great storyteller and I didn't want to quit reading. She had interesting perspectives that compared and contrasted religious views and cultural customs,and the effects of war. She used these to join and alienate the characters. Uniting all were the deep universal feelings of love and belonging.
Mar 20, 2012 Teresa rated it it was amazing
read. this. book.

i don't know that there has ever been a book to move me to tears more than this one. it will take you on an extremely emotional journey of reconnected family ties, forgiveness, spirituality, war, and romance. you get to experience the stories of several different characters that connect three generations together. it was so moving, i would recommend this book to anyone.
Feb 19, 2012 Uzma rated it it was amazing

Amazing book. Well written and carries a message of united we stand, divided we fall for all mankind. I highly recommend to anyone who wanted to better understand the emotions involved in hating take entirely too much energy and we are all in actuality the same despite religious and background differences.
Dec 28, 2012 Tessa rated it liked it
I really enjoyed and appreciated what the author was saying but somehow I didn't fully appreciate her style. Something felt "forced" about this book. I'd be curious what other friends have thought....
Sep 06, 2011 Sarah rated it really liked it
Nafisa Haji's writing was very moving, and in two plane rides I was very attached to the characters and their story. Additionally, probably my favorite description ever of travel was listed on page 77 -78 of this novel, I'll be keeping that near and dear for a long time.
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Nafisa Haji is an American of Indo-Pakistani descent. She was born and mostly raised in Los Angeles—-mostly, because there were years also spent in Chicago, Karachi, Manila, and London. Her family migrated from Bombay to Karachi in 1947 during Partition, when the Indian Subcontinent was divided into two states. In the late 1960s, Nafisa's parents came to the United States, shortly before she was b ...more
More about Nafisa Haji...

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“Faith is revelation. And in order to receive revelation you have to be open. Belief is about closing yourself off -- a lie you tell yourself to make the world fit in with how you've decided it should be. Real faith is an action - a verb. It's truth unfolding.” 17 likes
“There is an old Arab Bedouin saying: I, against my brothers. I and my brothers against my cousins. I and my brothers and my cousins against the world. That is jungle law. It is the way of the world when the world is thrown into chaos. It is our job to avert that chaos, to fight against it, to resist the urge to become savage. Because the problem with such law is that if you follow it, you are always fighting against someone.” 15 likes
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