Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book

Ruby Tear Catcher: An Iranian Woman's Story of Intolerance

Rate this book
The Ruby Tear Catcher is the heartwarming story of an Iranian woman whose life is uprooted during the Islamic Revolution in Iran in the 1970s and 1980s. While jailed in Tehran's most-feared prison, where she's held for her father's antiregime sentiments, Leila tells her story in flashback. She describes her childhood days in Tehran and shares her experiences as a college student in the United States, where she falls in love with Jack, only to see their relationship torn asunder by the strong influence of their disparate religions. Ultimately, hope triumphs in the face of fanaticism and intolerance.

256 pages, Hardcover

First published January 1, 2010

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Nahid Sewell

2 books16 followers
Nahid Sewell was born in Tehran, Iran, before the Islamic Revolution. After finishing high school in Tehran, she came to the United States, where she obtained a B.A. and M.B.A. from Lehigh University in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania. Following graduation, Nahid began a successful career in Information Technology. While holding full-time positions and raising a family, she began writing a series of technical articles and was a frequent conference speaker. Her first non-fiction book was a best-seller in its category. She followed with three additional non-fiction books. Nahid has written hundreds of articles for trade publications, eight of which were featured on magazine covers. She has served as a columnist for two different magazines and earned a writing award for an article published in 2007. Nahid is also an award-winning speaker.
While establishing herself as a successful author and Information Technology executive, Nahid married an American man and has two sons. Her husband, who lived for twenty years in a Christian community, provided much of the context for Christian fundamentalism in this, her debut novel. Together, their life’s experiences provide color and add authenticity to this fictional story of an Iranian woman’s struggle against intolerance. Their shared vision of a world where men and women of all colors and cultures, all races and religions, recognize their interconnected oneness gave life to this book.
Nahid is fluent in English, Farsi, and French and has traveled to Iran with her family on many occasions, where she experienced and observed first-hand the turmoil and transition she writes about. She enjoys traveling, gourmet cooking, and exercise in her spare time.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
27 (40%)
4 stars
23 (34%)
3 stars
15 (22%)
2 stars
2 (2%)
1 star
0 (0%)
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews
Profile Image for Randi.
291 reviews9 followers
October 2, 2011
I won this book in a Goodreads giveaway, and my copy is autographed! I usually read a completely different kind of book, but I'm glad I read this one. This is an amazing work of fiction by Nahid Sewell, telling the story of Leila-an Iranian woman from Tehran. The story begins with Leila being unjustly arrested in her native Tehran, because of her father's political views. The chapters alternate between her present prison life and her path from childhood to adulthood. This story paints a vivid picture of the plight of women in Iran. The writing is wonderful and thought inducing, and the strength of Leila and her supporting characters are great. I would recommend this book to everyone.
Profile Image for Gerry.
7 reviews
August 9, 2010
Have to admit my prejudice, but this is a wonderful story with much to teach about the culture of Iran and its people. Heartwarming and at times painful in its intensity, so many describe it as riveting.
Profile Image for Jo-Ann Murphy.
621 reviews21 followers
November 28, 2011
I was so lucky to win this book through the Goodreads giveaways! This is a brilliant book!! Every woman should read this book, especially in the current political climate of the United States.

This is a love story. Not only the love of a man and a woman but love for family, friends, country and religion. It grabbed me from the beginning but took me a long time to read because it is a hard read. It is emotional and has many complex layers and ideas that require thought and confrontation in your own life. The comparisons to the war on women currently being waged in the United States are striking and frightening.

This is a story of what happens when religious fundamentalism is carried to the extreme and takes over a country. Iran was once a beautiful bright happy country where men AND women had rights and freedoms. However, when the unimaginable happened and the religous men became the leaders of the country the people lost their freedoms and the country became a dark, gray, oppressive and controlled place. It tells of the struggles between following the religious dictates and the calling to love and compassion of the heart.

This is the story of a wealthy family who had options, who could circumvent the law. However, they still needed the love of other people to help them to survive.

I can't recommend this book highly enough.
Profile Image for Jalpa Williby.
Author 14 books171 followers
February 6, 2014
First of all, I have to start out by saying that I love reading about different cultures. Secondly, I love reading about perseverance. So needless to say, this story has both, and I absolutely loved it.

Ruby Tear Catcher is a story of an Iranian woman who has horrible things happen to her. Most women would accept their fate. But the author does a fantastic job showing the main character's strength. It was very easy for me to get attached to the characters. I found myself crying most of the book- and any book that can bring out that type of emotion out of me, is a good one as far as I'm concerned.

Not only is the author able to show the different cultures through this story, but she also has powerful messages.

Ruby Tear Catcher is a great story. If you're looking for a good read, I strongly recommend this one.
Profile Image for Joanne.
11 reviews2 followers
June 5, 2014
Nahid Sewell captures the human condition and really opened my eyes to how similar we all are, no matter what country we grew up in or what culture we are. Prior to reading this book, all I knew about Iran was what I saw on the evening news. Now, I have developed a greater appreciation and respect for the culture and people of Iran, and a greater understanding of the political climate there. Through her writing, I came to feel like the characters were real people. At the end of the book, I thought to myself, "there is no way this isn't an autobiography!" It felt so real and so authentic.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to surrender a weekend because you won't be able to put the book down.
Profile Image for Josephine.
235 reviews
July 24, 2012
This work of fiction illustrates a horrifically real period in Iranian and American history. In the 70's, Iran underwent a radical change to become a conservative religious country.
Sewell's story continues to resonate today with it's message to fight religious intolerance which extends not only intolerance of other religions but also differing interpretations of the same religious text.
31 reviews
March 1, 2015
Fabulous novel! One that teaches the reader that Iran is more than what we hear and see in the news. Like all of history there are people wanting to live a simple and happy lives but are thrown into political turmoil and unrest. This story reminds us that love is the answer and that all people and religions are connected.
4 reviews1 follower
February 22, 2011
Just finished this. I thought the author did a wonderful job of making see Iran and feel how it was to grow up there. The author created this story from real women's stories. It is a must read!
Profile Image for David Davis.
31 reviews4 followers
February 23, 2012
Excellent, Excellent, Excellent book! I highly recommend it. Very gripping and hard to put down. Nahid takes you right into the story, and I actually felt like I was there.
Profile Image for Amy.
103 reviews
February 8, 2013
To be honest, it's one I'd never pick up on my own. A friend gave it to me after the author (based in Chicago) spoke at one of her book clubs. It tugs at your heart strings, but is a beautiful read.
5 reviews
April 3, 2023
Great book about a character who experienced the old Iran and the new Iran. It also provided personal insights on the experience of growing up in a society where many people don’t see women as equals. Some of the themes I thought about were how people can take advantage of religion and it can become so dangerous and how one person’s kindness can affect so many different people and how people can be complex - not always totally good or totally bad.
December 20, 2020
The writing is somewhat predictable and flat. However the insight given into what life was like in Iran during and after the fundamentalist take over of the government is horrifying.
Profile Image for Dimity.
175 reviews22 followers
October 4, 2011
I won this historic fiction novel about the Iranian Revolution from First Reads. It’s from a smaller press (or maybe self-published, I’m not sure). I don’t think I’ve read anything about the Iranian revolution except for Persepolis: The Story of a Childhood but the topic of Muslim women is fascinating to me and the reason why I entered to win a copy.

Leila is a typical upper class Iranian girl (and later woman) enjoying her life in her native Iran somewhere between Islamic traditions and modernity’s beguiling tugs. Her mother wants Leila to follow the proscribed path of a young arranged marriage leading into submissive Muslim wifehood and motherhood while her father wishes for her to have the opportunities for education and self-fulfillment her older brother enjoys. Leila is able to pursue a post-secondary education at a small liberal arts college in America. Leila is studying there when the Ayatollah’s rise to power keeps her from returning home for most of her school vacations. During her time in the United States, she favors a secular life with American friends over associating with the more traditional Muslim student society. She dates and falls deeply in love with an American man, involved in a frustratingly unnamed “Christian community.” The couple deals with backlash from their respective religious communities that eventually tears them apart. The breakup coupled with a family tragedy convinces Leila to return to a deeply changed Iran after her graduation. She adjusts to a new Tehran where women are veiled by law and spouses carry their marriage licenses with them in the street to escape punishment for interacting with the opposite sex. Leila agrees to an arranged marriage that is ultimately unhappy and her life takes another downward spiral when her beloved parents are forced into exile in France to escape the regime. Leila is imprisoned and abused until she is able to make a dramatic escape herself to be reunited with her parents in Paris where she rebuilds her life far away from the religious fundamentalism that scars her ancestral nation.

Most of the characters seemed a little flat to me. It’s obvious the author had a story to tell about her native Iran but the characters used as vehicles to tell the story were not always relatable and compelling. The characters often acted in ways contrary to how they were described with no real explanation of the contradictions. I also was really confused about the “Christian community” Jack engaged in. Its characteristics didn’t sound like any contemporary group I’m familiar with and it would have added a great sense of reality if this group was named. Ultimately, I would recommend this book to people wishing to know more about Iran’s turmoil in the 1970s and 1980s but not so much to people looking for a novel with a strong plot and characters.
Profile Image for Rachel P.
75 reviews5 followers
November 20, 2011
I was pleased to win the “Ruby Tear Catcher: An Iranian Woman's Story of Intolerance,” as a first-reads giveaway. This novel is a poignant, well written story about a young Iranian woman named Leila and how the events of her life are shaped by her culture, religion, and the Islamic Revolution in 1979. This is a timely novel and a much needed, intimate portrayal of the suffering and cruelty women face in an Islamic fundamentalist country.

The opening of the novel finds Leila being arrested and sent to prison. After her dramatic capture the story of her life begins from her childhood, growing up when the Shah was still in power. From early on the reader learns that Leila doesn’t want to be a traditional Iranian housewife. As a young woman she makes the unconventional choice to go to college rather than marry like many Iranian girls do and like their family and culture expects. Fortunately, she has a loving father who supports her decision to go to college in America.

She goes to the same school as her older brother, Amir, with whom she is extremely close. There she meets an American boy named Jack. He is Christian and lives with strict, extremist community that causes a great deal of anxiety and turmoil in their relationship. Through her relationship with Jack, Leila finds that fundamentalism is not unique to Islam. It is a perversion that can take hold in any religion and warp it into something almost unrecognizable. It victimizes both followers and bystanders through violence and oppression all done in the name of God.

Interspersed throughout the timeline of life are scenes from her brutal experiences in prison where she is raped, beaten, and tortured for information on the whereabouts of her father. At a certain point I found the prison scenes to be repetitive. Also, the content might be difficult for some readers. However, I really enjoyed learning about Leila’s life and what it was like to grow up in Iran pre-Revolution and how it is to live their now as a woman in the new Islamic Republic.

Towards the end, the story does include an unexpected and pleasant surprise when Leila is rescued from a dire situation. Unfortunately, the conclusion falls flat and left me disappointed with the ending.

Overall, this book was a fast, enjoyable read. Leila has a remarkable inner strength that allows her to withstand the worst forms cruelty and carries her through her real life nightmares. I would recommend it to anyone interested in Iranian or Women’s history, culture, or current events. It is a great way to learn some history within the context of an exciting and captivating novel.
14 reviews2 followers
July 2, 2010
Chosen as a book club selection at work because a colleague's wife is the author. Fictional but based on the author's roots in Iran before the revolution. Story is told in flashback and set in Iran, Bethlehem, Pa. (Lehigh University, where the author attended) and Paris. Fascinating insights into Iranian culture and religous fundamentalism - both Muslim and Christian. Something I would not have read without the personal connection but would recommend. Good discussion book.
Profile Image for Mary.
154 reviews
July 20, 2011
I met the author at the Printer's Row Book Fair. Her book is a mixture of her story with fictional events. It displays the Persian culture during the reign of the Shaw followed by the fall (imprisonment or death) during the rise and ruling of the Fundamentalists.
May 9, 2018
Ms. Sewell has written a novel that depicts the many difficulties of life for women in Iran while at the same time extolling the many virtues of the Iranian people and their culture. The intolerance she cites knows no national boundaries, however. The mirror she holds to all readers is worth looking into. I turned the last page of this book humbler in the best sense and significantly wiser. This book is a worthwhile read for everyone.
Displaying 1 - 18 of 18 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.