We hope you’re enjoying Roseheart, by Catherine Dehdashti. Below are some questions to guide your discussion. If you have other questions, please feel free to ask the author on Facebook.
- Dehdashti has called this novel “semiautobiographical.” What do you think that means for the character of Valerie? Were there some parts you felt were more like memoir, and some that felt more like fiction?
- Roseheart doesn’t go deeply into government politics, and yet the family she marries into is from Iran, a country that has had a vexed relationship with the United States for a long time. Do you feel that the book was political in some ways? Or was it more about other parts of life and culture? Is it possible that it was both?
- Valerie has two close friends, Melinda and Savi. What role does each play in her life? How does each contribute to her personal growth?
- How did you feel about Valerie and Naveed’s interactions? Was there anything that surprised you about their intercultural relationship?
- When Goli Joon first arrived from Iran, there were some tense moments and probably some discomfort for both. In what ways did not sharing a common language hurt (or help) the situation?
- It’s been said that food can bring people together, or “build a bridge.” Is this true? Are there limitations? What are your experiences with food and commensality?
- Were there times food brought Valerie and Goli Joon together? Were there times the bridge collapsed?
- Roseheart takes place mostly in the 90s, when the “foodie” scene in the United States was taking off. Were there any scenes or even small mentions that reminded you of those days?
- How did Minneapolis and the Wayzata/Lake Minnetonka area come across in Roseheart? Did it seem like a place you recognized if you are familiar with it? If you aren’t familiar with it, what sense did you get of the area?
- How was Valerie’s relationship with her mother and father, and her two sisters? What “place” did she hold in the family? How far does she come from the beginning to the end in accepting her parents’ divorce?
- Did Valerie’s experience help you build your knowledge of Persian culture, or did you feel like you were learning only from her own biased outside perspective and feel wary of what you learned? Were there times Valerie (or the author) treated Goli Joon or other family and friends unfairly or made assumptions about Middle Eastern men or women?
- Roseheart does have some funny moments (intercultural misunderstandings, work life, and frenemy situations, for some examples). What was your favorite, and what made it funny to you?
- What was the meaning of the last scene of Valerie and Goli Joon together, when Goli Joon was in the garden tending the pumpkin vines?
- How to end a novel is one of the hardest choices an author makes. Did you like Roseheart’s ending? Did you feel it left you with questions, and is it okay with you when a novel does that? Why or why not?