Sunday, September 4, 2016

It Ain’t so Awful, Falafel! {Iran}

It Ain’t so Awful, Falafel  |  Firoozeh Dumas

4/5 stars

{May 2016, 384 pages Hardcover}
It happens. You buy a book that’s meant for a younger audience by mistake, but read it anyways, since it’s funny! (And you can finish it quickly within a day- How about that!) While I pursue to get a glimpse of countries around the world, this book took me to the period 1978-1981, smack right at the time the Shah of Iran was overthrown by Khomeini and events that led to the American Hostage Crisis.

The Narrator is a smart 11 year old girl named Zomorod who moved to America for the second time with her parents. Her father is a petroleum engineer who is sent on a project to help set up a refinery. The Brits discovered Oil in Iran in 1901, ever since there was money flowing in and during the time of this book, there were over 50,000 Americans working in Iran, whereas meeting another Iranian in America was as rare as two polar bears running into each other in Hawaii!

While Zomorod dreams of having a cool beanbag chair (Which her father hilariously shuts down with “a bean chair? We eat beans, not sit on it… Nineteen Ninety nine dollars?? In my country a bag of beans is two dollars”), dressing up for Halloween as a hobo (Because that was what was cool in the American Movies shown in Iran) and of having friends who ask good questions about Iran instead of camels (which for the record, she had seen only once, in a zoo), she’s holds her own during a presentation on Iran in front of the whole class (‘The country’s name is pronounced ‘ee-ron’. ‘I ran’ is a sentence. For example ‘I ran to Iran’”).

We get glimpses of their rich culture, such as the importance of having a well cooked rice dish for guests (Cuz you may have sheltered orphans or discovered a cure for malaria, but if the rice is not good- it will be remembered!) taarof (i.e. the non-stop offering of food to guests),  ghadam ru cheshm (literally meaning you can step on my eye - a way of telling guests that they will do whatever to make them happy.) and  Iranians having massive amounts of cucumbers in their houses (“if there is ever an emergency that requires huge amounts of small cucumbers, Iranians will be instant heroes”)

And most importantly we get a glimpse of crucial bit of history. Americans were taken hostage for 444 days following the revolution and the Unites States allowing the then overthrown Shah in their country for cancer treatment.

While monarchy was a far cry from what the people wanted, at least the Shah was pro development and pro women rights. The compulsion of women to wear a veil, the ban on alcohol, music and movies began with Khomeini’s rule. Many Iranians fled leaving all their belongings behind and the whole madness had implications in the lives of Zomorod’s family in America too.

A funny, informative, and overall a breezy read for young *and* the not so young adults, who love *and* who hate history! (I wish her bestseller Funny in Farsi would have been available as an e-book, I would’ve read it right away.)

Do check out the author’s website that has Educators resources , DVD links & related videos.

More Books Exploring Countries & Cultures:

Globetrotting with Books: The Series & Link Up Dominican Republic |   Bulgaria  |  Pakistan  | Turkey  |  Iran  |  
 North Korea |  Indonesia |   Colombia |  Full List (+Linky) 

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  1. That sounds like a great read actually. I didn't know much about Middle Eastern cultures until I was assigned a book called Persepolis, written by Marjane Satrapi and it is also an account of Iranian life from the perspective of a young girl. It is also in comic book form, which makes it really easy to read. I still have the book sitting on my book shelf. Interesting how these two books are both from the perspective of young girls. For me, it paints a different picture of Iran than the media does. Of course, I've long lost faith and trust in our media. Thanks for sharing this! #fartglitter

    1. The book sounds interesting! Yes you get a first hand perspective and you will need many, many first hand perspectives to get a clearer picture of what actually happened. Thanks for stopping by Michelle :)

  2. I have this book on my pile of books to read from the library. If I wasn't already excited about it, I sure would be after reading this.

  3. I need to admit that saound interesting

  4. This book sounds brilliant! I really want to read it now. I had no idea that was how you pronounced. Sounds like you learn a lot about the culture through reading it. Thanks for joining us at the #bigpinklink

    1. Thanks Loise! I wouldn't give too much importance to pronunciation (It was funny when the girl in the book said it though!) Out of the hundreds of languages and dialects, there are bound to be different ways to pronounce words, and they should be all acceptable! haha.

  5. Replies
    1. Indeed! It is also ironic, since falafel is def *not* from Iran! Thanks Myra :)

  6. I've heard such great things about this book and hope to get a chance to read it soon. I love how you interspersed your quotes in with your review. Bravo! Thanks for sharing this post at Booknificent Thursday on!

    1. I think quotes are necessary, since the author's words are so much more compelling than a mere reviewer's!
      Thanks Tina :)

  7. This sounds very interesting and intriguing too...I love your book recommendations as there's always something new for me to check out. Thanks for sharing on #dreamteam Always great to have you x

  8. Sounds like a good way to introduce children to these horrible times for Iran. Thanks for sharing at the #LMMLinkup.

  9. Sounds right up my street. I love a bit of ya . Will check it out.