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Monday, July 02, 2018

It Ain't So Awful, Falafal by Firoozeh Dumas

It Ain't So Awful, FalafalZomorod father's job as a petroleum engineer has brought them to America from their native country of Iran in the late 1970s. Her family moves from Compton, California to Newport Beach, where she decides to reinvent herself and become "Cindy."  As they move into their new home in Newport, Cindy becomes friends with her neighbor, Original Cindy.  They have fun during the summer together but when school starts, Original Cindy decides they shouldn't be friends anymore.  Luckily, Cindy meets Carolyn, who is very kind to her and the two share many of the same interests and a passion for reading.  Carolyn's family is very accepting to Cindy and she spends lots of time at Carolyn's house because Carolyn has the type of family Cindy wishes she had.  The political situation in Iran changes and hostages are taken.  Her dad loses his job due to being Iranian and some people in their neighborhood and school give her a hard time.  Since her dad cannot find another job in the United States, they decide they will have to move back to Iran, a country in political unrest and a place where the rights women once enjoyed have been taken away.

The book is based loosely on the author's own life.  In the story, Cindy is often asked by Carolyn's family and some of her other neighbors to explain what is going on in Iran.  The historical pieces of the hostage crisis are very interesting.   The leader of Iran, the Ayatollah Khomeini, had taken away the rights and independence that women had earned.  My favorite part of the book is when her father talks about having a daughter. He states, "If I had one son and one daughter and could only educate one of them, I would educate my daughter.  You know why?  A girl without an education has no power; she is always at the mercy of others."  There is a father who loves his daughter and knows the value of a good education.

The chapters in the book are quite short and there is a lot of humor in the book along with the emotional frustration and conflicts the family endures.  This is a 2019 Caudill Award Nominee and it rightfully deserves the nomination.  Pick this title up this summer.  It's a good read!

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