Persian Girls by Nahid Rachlin

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Stars: ****

I recieved this book from MotherTalk.

I asked to review this book because I’ve been intrigued by life in Muslim countries. I’ve read other books on Muslim culture so I asked to review this one.

I enjoyed reading about Iranian culture as most of the Muslim life books I’ve read took place in Afghanistan. Although both countries are mainly Muslim, and therefore follow the Muslim laws, doesn’t mean the countries are exactly the same. Many Americans and Canadians group all Muslim countries together which isn’t fair. Just as the U.S. and Canada are different, so are Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the others.

As with any memoir, the story is told from one person’s viewpoint, so you must remember that this is how that one person perceived things. The copy I have has a reader’s guide in the back, and one of the questions is “(do) you ever find yourself wanting to know the other character’s points of views?” That is exactly how I feel. I am especially interested in Manijeh’s experiences, how she felt.

I think the reason I enjoy reading about Muslim culture so much is because while I don’t agree with many of the rules and customs they enforce in their countries, I can see their point on many others. (North) American culture is put down a lot by many of the Muslims in the story and while I don’t approve of bashing any culture, some of their points did have merit. One random man says about America, “(There is) no closeness between people there, no sense of family. They are a lonely crowd, as one of their own sociologists said.” While I don’t think it’s true that there is NO closeness, I do agree that our culture is selfish, it’s all about ourselves. I think we need to stick with our family a little more.”

Nahid talks a lot about the political state of Iran and it’s relations with other countries, the U.S. included. While this may be interesting to others and perhaps even important to the story, it is not something I am interested in reading and I skimmed over some of these parts. I personally think the memoir would have been better with less political talk. Saying that there was turmoil that prevented correspondence would have been sufficient.

Another thing that I wasn’t expecting in the book is that the author is much older than I expected and so this is about her life mostly between 1955 and 1988. So really this book is about Iranian culture in the past although I don’t believe it’s much different now. This was not a bad thing, just unexpected. I guess I expected the author to be in her early 30’s.

Something I found interested was that Nahid explains the basis for some of her novels that she’s written in the past. She says where the idea came from or whose life it was based on.This makes me want to read her novels now, knowing her background. I don’t usually know much about an author’s background when I read their fictional novels.

For the most part, the book had me intrigued and I had trouble putting it down. I held my breath, cried, cheered and grieved along with the characters. I’m glad I got the opportunity to review this book and it will make a nice addition to my library.

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About Kathleen

I've been a nonfiction lover for as long as I can remember. I love children's nonfiction as well and love to share my knowledge and the books I gained them from, with the world. I wish more people would give nonfiction a chance.