In Manteghi’s memoir, she reflects with compassion and humor on her year spent as a 34-year-old battling breast cancer, interspersing memories of her childhood as an Iranian in Canada and her pre-cancer years in Bosnia.
Manteghi, unlike many of her peers, didn’t spend her early 30s planning the perfect domestic family life. Having immigrated to Canada from Iran as a young child, Manteghi never felt wholly in sync with her Toronto home or Canadian peers. After graduating from law school, Manteghi pursued adventure abroad as an activist in Bosnia. There, she found a home as she developed deep connections with the people, philanthropic interests and a romantic relationship. Her breast cancer diagnosis ended all of that. Manteghi returned to Toronto, spending a year in chemotherapy. With humor, she examines her experience, stating that she had replaced her idolization of Christiane Amanpour with Kylie Minogue as she channeled the “KylieChemo look.” In more serious moments, she realized that the family life she’d assumed would happen might not. The experience changed her. The narrative is initially a little confusing; the chronology isn’t linear, and the reader may wonder why Manteghi was in Bosnia, for example. For the reader not well-versed in Bosnian or Iranian history, a brief introduction of the countries’ histories would have been helpful. As the narrative progresses, however, the reader becomes more familiar with Manteghi’s personal history, and the nonlinearity of the stories becomes easier to follow. Manteghi’s choosing among career ambition, romance and family may be particularly interesting for other young people faced with similar decisions.
Manteghi weaves together her diverse international life experiences to create an insightful, lively self-portrait.