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IT AIN'T SO AWFUL, FALAFEL by Firoozeh Dumas Kirkus Star


by Firoozeh Dumas

Pub Date: May 3rd, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-544-61231-0
Publisher: Clarion Books

After a rocky start, Cindy (Zomorod to her parents) finds a comfortable niche in her California middle school until political upheaval and revolution in Iran reach the United States, threatening her future and her family’s safety.

Moving to Newport Beach, she renames herself Cindy, to avoid hearing teachers stumble over Zomorod (“emerald” in Persian), prompting the ridicule of kids like Bill (whose name means “shovel” in Persian). Her engineer dad, who loves to talk about the oil industry, and unhappy mom, who won’t learn English, pose bigger obstacles to fitting in, as she trenchantly describes: “It’s not like I don’t love them. I just want to hide them until they stop being embarrassing.” Few Americans in the 1970s know Iran, often wrongly assuming it’s populated by Arabs or that her family is Mexican. Acquiring a peer group, Cindy’s introduced to Scouting and sailing. Her parents are no fans of the shah, but their hopes for Iran’s future are dashed with the Islamic Revolution and its brutal aftermath. They fear for the safety of friends and family in Iran, then for their own as they experience the best and worst of their adopted culture. Cindy narrates in the present tense, her affection for Iran just as palpable as her engagement with the moment.

On her own journey to maturity, Cindy deftly guides young readers through Iran’s complicated realities in this fresh take on the immigrant experience—authentic, funny, and moving from beginning to end.

(author’s note) (Historical fiction. 8-12)