Use these discussion questions to guide your next meeting.


“Put your past in a casket, and its ghost will show up at your door. Burn it on a pyre, and its ashes will get in your eyes. But, if you entertain them from time-to-time, you realize they are no longer anything but the residual imaginings of the human mind.” Roya is a coming-of-age novel telling the story of a 22-year-old Iranian-American woman confronting the shadows of her past in search of lion-hearted strength. Pressured to trade her dream of becoming a composer for medical school, she is at odds with her immigrant parents. A heartbreak over her first love has left her further feeling like an expat in her own body. Upon her grandmother’s request, she embarks on a reluctant journey to Iran. There, she finds a country with its own torn identity ––one caught between tradition and modernity. A quiet, yet pressing craving for freedom exists mirroring Roya's own inner battle. With the help of some unlikely friends, she finds truth in the unraveling of family secrets and a new dawn for dreams.


The names of every main character in the novel were specifically chosen to illustrate a symbolic meaning and theme. Roya in Farsi means "dream; vision." Omid means "hope." Azar means "fire." Khanoom Jaan loosely translates to "my dear lady." Delband means "chainer of the heart." After having read the novel, how important do you think these definitions were in understanding the themes of the novel? How do these themes and characters interact with one another to enhance your understanding of the novel's core messaging?

Mamani mentions to Roya that "pain is the drug of all poetic souls." What do you think of this commentary? Do you believe that suffering and artistry go hand-in-hand? Why do you think pain is, oftentimes, a muse for creatives?

How do you think Roya's internal conflict with identity and self-discovery mirrors that of her external environment, if at all?