Zomorod (Cindy) has moved from place to place in America and back and forth between America and Iran for her father’s work. With a mother suffering from relocation depression–and who refuses to learn English–and the hardships of making friends each year as a foreigner, Zomorod is determined to embrace America and American culture. She reads Good Housekeeping to learn about Thanksgiving, dresses up for Halloween, and makes curious and empathetic friends who have similar interests. Just as life is full of water balloon fights and Bonnie Bell lip-gloss, though, Iran starts a revolution. Americans living in Iran are taken hostage and the new regime implements strict rules on women. With the changing relationship between Iran and America, Zomorod’s dad is fired from his job. Anti-Iranian sentiment and hate crimes envelope Zomorod’s world, and her family fears for their family’s safety back in Iran as well as their own. With no income, Zomorod’s family finds themselves wondering if they will have to return to an even more dangerous Iran.
A Booklist Editors’ Choice 2016 and rated as a Kirkus Best of 2016, It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel is based loosely on Dumas’ personal life. As a middle grade read, the title is suitable for fourth to seventh graders who are interested in multicultural history. As Dumas states in her “Author’s Notes,” she hopes that readers will learn that history is more than just memorizing facts. Zomorod’s story exemplifies the sentiment that history is about people and their stories. It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel is highly informative in regards to Iranian politics during the late 1970’s into 1980’s and effectively examines themes of prejudice, racism, corruption, relocation, family, and identity. I just want to hug Zomorod’s entire circle of supporters in the end.
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas (Clarion Books, 2016)