I received this book at no cost from the publisherIt Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Published by Clarion Books on May 3rd 2016
Genres: Coming of Age, Emotions & Feelings, Family, Historical, Middle Grade, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Issues
Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can't distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.
I loved Dumas first two memoirs and went to see her speak and it was HILARIOUS! My son’s best friend is Persian and as neighbors we always had the best time at their extended family parties. This cute and quirky story about adapting to a new culture is just wonderful. Also, what really drew me in to the story is that the author first lived around the corner from me and went to the same grade school, but not at the same time since I was a few years ahead of her.
The story centers around Cindy and her family moving to Newport Beach, CA and during the time of the hostage crisis in Iran in the late 70’s. You can see where Dumas brings in her own experiences of living in the US and adapting to American customs comes in to play. The story is filled with flashes of heartbreak and humor, all thing that any preteen experiences but with the emphasis that Cindy is different from her peers and how she tries to fit it. She does make friends with Carolyn, who Cindy secretly wishes her own family could be like, but is still a bit isolated because of her different culture. Cindy tries to fit in with her family’s idea of how she should be with the added issues of fitting in as an American teen.
I loved this story and it is very important that more books like this are written to expand the diversity of main characters. Overall, this is a story that has universal appeal because all preteens are trying to fit in and when you add a cultural difference it can be that much harder. Parents: this is probably the perfect book for preteens trying to gain some empathy for other cultures and exactly how much harder it is for immigrant teens to fit in during a politcally charged time.
About the Author