In a novel based on a true story, two teen girls fall in love and face harsh political fallout in post-revolution Iran.
Readers learn the basics of 1980s Iran’s political situation from context and light exposition. Farrin’s family is wealthy, and her mother hosts Bring Back the Shah teas and parties with illicit alcohol. Farrin’s mother discourages her from making friends, out of both fear that Farrin will reveal her secrets and an almost cartoonishly exaggerated disdain for “low-class rabble.” When Farrin meets Sadira, however, the two become fast friends, and their bond soon grows. Then, just after the war with Iraq has ended and the new regime is cracking down at home, an officious class monitor catches the two girls kissing and reports them. The consequences are both chilling and tragic. The author’s hands-off approach means readers hear relatively few of Farrin’s thoughts or feelings about having fallen in love with another girl. Nor are they given more than the bare minimum of tools to interpret the complex power dynamics of Farrin’s relationship with Ahmad, the Afghan refugee who serves as her driver. However spare, though, the portrait painted of 1980s Iran’s political climate—and in particular the situation of gay and lesbian people and political prisoners—is haunting.
A harsh introduction to a disturbing moment in Iran’s recent history. (Historical fiction. 14-18)