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|It ain't so awful, falafel|
Author: Dumas, Firoozeh
Eleven-year-old Zomorod, originally from Iran, tells her story of growing up Iranian in Southern California during the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis of the late 1970s.
|Accelerated Reader Information:|
Interest Level: MG
Reading Level: 4.70
Points: 10.0 Quiz: 181921
|Reading Counts Information:|
Interest Level: 6-8
Reading Level: 4.50
Points: 17.0 Quiz: 67467
Kirkus Reviews (+) (03/01/16)
School Library Journal (02/01/16)
Booklist (+) (04/15/16)
The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books (04/16)
The Hornbook (00/03/16)
Full Text Reviews:
School Library Journal - 02/01/2016 Gr 4–7—In Dumas's first foray into middle grade fiction, readers follow Zomorod Yousefzadeh through middle school in Newport Beach, CA, during the Iran hostage crisis. Zomorod, who goes by Cindy (like in The Brady Bunch), and her family are from Iran, living in America while her father works to build an oil refinery in their home country with American engineers. While the Yousefzadehs are able to fly under the radar in their early days in America, mostly being mistaken for Mexican, their entire situation changes when Iranian students storm the U.S. Embassy and take American hostages. Facing hostile racism and the loss of their only source of income, Cindy's family learns what it means to stick together, to create the best of an awful situation, and to embrace their heritage while incorporating new customs and friendships into their lives. This title reads more like a memoir than narrative fiction, which makes sense given Dumas's previous adult titles, Funny in Farsi (2003) and Laughing Without an Accent (2008, both Villard). Although the dialogue sometimes borders on textbooklike explanations of Iranian history, this tactic might be necessary for young readers to truly understand the underlying problems in later action. Dumas gives each short chapter a clever title, includes humorous asides throughout the narration, and keeps readers engaged with the very real and relatable difficulties of finding friends after moving, dealing with family issues both domestic and abroad, and discovering one's own identity in middle school. VERDICT For large middle grade collections looking to widen their diverse, upper middle grade offerings. Hand to fans of Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala (Little, Brown, 2014) or Erin Entrada Kelly's Blackbird Fly (HarperCollins, 2015).—Brittany Staszak, St. Charles Public Library, IL - Copyright 2016 Publishers Weekly, Library Journal and/or School Library Journal used with permission.
Bulletin for the Center... - 04/01/2016 Zomorod has bounced back and forth between California and her native Iran more that a few times by 1978 due to her father’s employment as an engineer consultant in the oil industry. On this trip to the U.S. she reinvents herself as “Cindy,” determined that middle school will find her Americanized and mainstream. Good luck with that, since her parents keep her on a short leash, rising middle school friendships seem to have already been solidified, and her one potential pal from the summer throws her over as school opens. Things turn around when she makes a real friend in Carolyn Williams, who takes a genuine interest in her background, has a warm and welcoming family, and is as serious about academic success as Cindy has been raised to be. Geopolitics upsets this happy trajectory, though, when Iran’s shah is deposed, an Islamic regime comes into power, and American hostages are held in the embassy in Iran; back in the U.S., Cindy’s father is suddenly out of work and the family regarded as pariahs by some of the community. Cindy’s narration of events is self-deprecatingly funny, but it doesn’t mask the very real bigotry suffered by her family and the very real fears her family members share about going back to an Iran that has officially turned against Western culture and values. Context for Iranian internal politics and the hostage crisis are embedded within a few chapters, and what these plainspoken inclusions lack in grace, they make up for in utility. Even readers who just glance at the trending stories on Facebook will be able to supply a contemporary parallel. EB - Copyright 2016 The Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois.
Booklist - 04/15/2016 *Starred Review* Zomorod Yousefzadeh dreams of having a beanbag chair: “I imagine inviting a friend over. The minute she sees the beanbag chair, she knows that even if my parents speak a different language and I do not have a pet and we have no snack foods, I am still cool.” At age 11, she has moved four times between her native Iran and California, and her plan for fitting in at Newport Beach’s middle school starts with having a new American name, Cindy—just like on The Brady Bunch. In 1978, people don’t know much about Iran, and Cindy’s scheme to sidestep awkward questions about camels is working like a charm. She makes friends and joins the Girl Scouts, but then Iran starts making the news. A revolution is underway, and when the Iranians take American hostages, Cindy’s family becomes the target of mean-spirited attacks and prejudice. Dumas’ semiautobiographical novel is both funny and affecting, and surprisingly relevant to today’s political climate. She integrates Cindy’s struggle to balance the demands of two cultures seamlessly into a relatable tale of middle-school drama, while organically incorporating details of the Iranian hostage crisis. Readers will be thoroughly invested in Cindy’s story, whether holding their breath or laughing out loud, and always hoping that the Yousefzadehs will come out on top. - Copyright 2016 Booklist.