It Ain’t so Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
Hi, I am Sarah. I am fourteen years old and an avid reader; it is one of my favorite things to do. Inspired by authors’ creations of magnificent places and surprising havens built by simple letters, I aspire to be an author and, meanwhile, nurture the love to write.
Zomorod Yousefzadeh is just a normal teenage girl. At least, that’s all she wants to be. After bouncing between Iran, her home country, and California for most of her life, she’s ready to just settle down somewhere and not stick out like a sore, Persian thumb. She decides to go by Cindy, hoping for a Brady-Brunch level of American normalcy, and tries to get her mom to learn English so she no longer has to be her translator.
As she starts the sixth grade, everything is looking great: new friends who are actually interested in her, great Halloween costumes, Girl Scouts, the whole shebang. But it’s the late 1970s and the political unrest in Iran is mounting. Suddenly everyone knows about Iran, and everyone’s asking Cindy about what the heck is going on in her home country—but for all the wrong reasons. As protests turn into full-on revolution turn into the taking of American hostages, Cindy feels less and less safe in her new school, and in the country that has been her home for much of her life.
In this hilarious, wonderfully written semi-autobiography, Firoozeh Dumas explores the complicated notion of otherness, and what it really means to see someone for who they are, culture and all. Cindy’s story is an ode to kindness, and to the importance of the way we respond the stories we are told, and the way we tell our own stories in the future.