Bes book ever!!;)
Especially given recent events, we need to read books like this one. Zomorod and her family move to Newport Beach, California when she is just a girl in the 1970s. Desperate to fit in American culture (and with her peers, like many preteens/teens/humans), she changes her name to Cindy and longs for a beanbag chair. Her father works for an Iranian oil company and her mother refuses to come out of the house until she learns English and insists on giving the neighbors embarrassing (to Cindy) Iranian dishes. Every day, Cindy faces some sort of racism--people ask her about her camel, tell her it's a shame she's forgotten her Spanish and her teachers constantly single her out to ask if she'll do special presentations on Iran.
Times in Iran are fraught and the Iranian Revolution and Iran hostage crisis lead many Americans to openly hate Iranians. Cindy hides hate crimes that are committed against her family so as not to upset her parents. Her father loses his job and is unable to find another one given his only job titles contain the word "Iranian" in them. Her mother spends all her time worrying about their family back in Iran. They all can't stop watching the news and they all fall into a depression as they are left completely insecure about what their futures hold.
This book gives readers an idea of what it would be like to come of age as a complete outsider. And more specifically, it gives readers an idea of what it would actually be like to be an Iranian in North America during such a tumultuous time that is completely out of their control and certainly not their fault. Readers will learn about important historical events and hopefully gain a healthy dose of empathy.
This is a charming and funny coming-of-age story, one that I found very relevant to where we find ourselves now despite it taking place in the late 1970's. Zomorod is from Iran and is living with her family in Southern California during the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis. So, as a preteen, she’s dealing with the usual- friendships and school and boys- while also dealing with the unusual- a severely depressed mom and worries about her homeland and unkind neighbors. But there is a lot of hope here despite some hateful characters. Many open their arms to the family, welcoming them to a new place while also showing genuine interest in their home. Imagine the world if we all did that.
Any book that somehow manages to make the Iranian revolution & the Iran hostage crisis accessible for a middle grade audience deserves a lot of credit, so for that reason alone I'd be inclined to really like this book. However, besides that impressive feat of writing, this is also just a very funny coming-of-age story that will resonate with readers of all cultural backgrounds. I thought this was completely entertaining and hilarious from start to finish.
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