Friday, July 19, 2019
By Nioucha Homayoonfar
160 pages, ages 12 & up
National Geographic Children’s Books, 2019
“I knew I was in trouble when the white jeep made a U-turn. Driven by the Zeinab Sisters (or the Black Crows, as I called them), it raced toward me and screeched to a stop.”
This book opens like an action movie: a young girl is snatched off the street, pushed into the back of a car, and taken to an apartment building that’s under construction. There she’s locked in a room.
For what? Showing the tiniest bit of skin. A sliver of her wrist. A crime, in the eyes of the “Moral Police” and the religious leaders who, after the revolution, control Iran. Post-revolution, the country has become a place where women and girls have lost the rights to work, attend school, have an opinion.
Though it sounds like a dystopian novel, this is a true story of one girl’s life – Nioucha – and what happened to her country after the fall of the Shah.
But Nioucha didn’t always live in Iran. She spent her early life in Pittsburgh, PA until she was five years old. That was when her father wanted to move back to his home country, back to relatives and a vibrant civilization that he missed.
Things were fine, at first. But when Nioucha was eight years old the Shah went into exile and the country moved in a different direction. Where she was once free to run and play and go to school, now her world is circumscribed by rules. Her loss of rights begins simply: she must wear a scarf. Girls must attend a separate school from boys. There is mandated religion class. She can’t be seen in public with a boy who is not related.
This is a book about how easy it is to lose your freedom. Lose your voice. So Nioucha uses her words and stories to give voice to those who are still taking cover. And maybe to warn us about just how easily we could lose the rights we take for granted.
Always in the Middle, so hop over to see what other people are reading. Review copy provided by the publisher.