It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas -- It's the summer before sixth grade, and Zomorod Yousefzadeh's family is moving to Newport Beach, California. Zomorod decides that this is the perfect time to adopt a more American-sounding name, so she selects Cindy and sets off to brave the wilds of middle school. Little does she know that one of the defining events of her middle school years will be the revolution and hostage crisis in her family's home country, Iran.
I never would have guessed that I'd
write the phrase, "a heartwarming middle-grade novel about the Iranian
Hostage Crisis," but there you have it! This book is sweet and funny,
and the characters are well-developed and true to life. The story is
semi-autobiographical, and the author has clearly not forgotten how it
feels to be a middle-schooler. Portions of the book did feel a bit
didactic, but I feel that the author did a good job of incorporating a
large amount of historical context, and it was necessary to the story,
especially since these events are not likely to be familiar to much of
the target audience. I know I learned a lot! Here's hoping this book
finds the wide audience it so richly deserves.
(Reviewed from an advance copy, courtesy of the publisher.)