Cover image for It ain't so awful, falafel
Title:
It ain't so awful, falafel
Author:
Dumas, Firoozeh, author.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Boston : Clarion Books/Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, [2016]
Physical Description:
378 pages ; 22 cm
Summary:
"Eleven-year-old Zomorod, originally from Iran, tells her story of growing up Iranian in Southern California during the Iranian Revolution and hostage crisis of the late 1970s"--
Language:
English
Reading Level:
730 Lexile.
Program Information:
Accelerated Reader AR MG 4.7 10.0 181921.
ISBN:
9780544612310
Format :
Book

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Summary

Summary

Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California's Newport Beach is her family's latest perch, and she's determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name--Cindy. It's the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally the taking of American hostages. Even mood rings and puka shell necklaces can't distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi .


Author Notes

New York Times bestselling author Firoozeh Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran, and moved to Whittier, California at the age of seven. After a two-year stay, she and her family moved back to Iran and lived in Ahvaz and Tehran. Two years later, they moved back to Whittier, then to Newport Beach. She lives in Munich, Germany, with her husband and three children.


Reviews 3

Booklist Review

*Starred Review* Zomorod Yousefzadeh dreams of having a beanbag chair: I imagine inviting a friend over. The minute she sees the beanbag chair, she knows that even if my parents speak a different language and I do not have a pet and we have no snack foods, I am still cool. At age 11, she has moved four times between her native Iran and California, and her plan for fitting in at Newport Beach's middle school starts with having a new American name, Cindy just like on The Brady Bunch. In 1978, people don't know much about Iran, and Cindy's scheme to sidestep awkward questions about camels is working like a charm. She makes friends and joins the Girl Scouts, but then Iran starts making the news. A revolution is underway, and when the Iranians take American hostages, Cindy's family becomes the target of mean-spirited attacks and prejudice. Dumas' semiautobiographical novel is both funny and affecting, and surprisingly relevant to today's political climate. She integrates Cindy's struggle to balance the demands of two cultures seamlessly into a relatable tale of middle-school drama, while organically incorporating details of the Iranian hostage crisis. Readers will be thoroughly invested in Cindy's story, whether holding their breath or laughing out loud, and always hoping that the Yousefzadehs will come out on top.--Smith, Julia Copyright 2016 Booklist


Publisher's Weekly Review

Dumas (Funny in Farsi) sets her first middle grade novel in the late 1970s and early 1980s, focusing on the Iranian Revolution and the 444 days American hostages were held in the U.S. Embassy in Tehran. Born in Iran, Zomorod Yousefzadeh rechristens herself Cindy when her family moves from Compton, Calif., to Newport Beach. She struggles with the usual new-girl problems, but hers are compounded by being an immigrant from a country unfamiliar to most Americans. Zomorod's situation takes on fear and tension when the Iranian Revolution breaks out; she and her family struggle with anxiety over friends and relatives at home, as well as their own precarious future in America after her engineer father loses his job for political reasons. Conversations often turn into history and culture lessons, though they evolve naturally within the plot and deliver information that remains relevant today. Filled with humorous touches and authentic cultural references, Dumas's story will resonate not just with young immigrants but with any readers trying to adapt to new situations. Ages 10-12. Agent: Mel Berger, William Morris Endeavor. (May) © Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.


School Library Journal Review

Gr 4-7-In Dumas's first foray into middle grade fiction, readers follow Zomorod Yousefzadeh through middle school in Newport Beach, CA, during the Iran hostage crisis. Zomorod, who goes by Cindy (like in The Brady Bunch), and her family are from Iran, living in America while her father works to build an oil refinery in their home country with American engineers. While the Yousefzadehs are able to fly under the radar in their early days in America, mostly being mistaken for Mexican, their entire situation changes when Iranian students storm the U.S. Embassy and take American hostages. Facing hostile racism and the loss of their only source of income, Cindy's family learns what it means to stick together, to create the best of an awful situation, and to embrace their heritage while incorporating new customs and friendships into their lives. This title reads more like a memoir than narrative fiction, which makes sense given Dumas's previous adult titles, Funny in Farsi (2003) and Laughing Without an Accent (2008, both Villard). Although the dialogue sometimes borders on textbooklike explanations of Iranian history, this tactic might be necessary for young readers to truly understand the underlying problems in later action. Dumas gives each short chapter a clever title, includes humorous asides throughout the narration, and keeps readers engaged with the very real and relatable difficulties of finding friends after moving, dealing with family issues both domestic and abroad, and discovering one's own identity in middle school. VERDICT For large middle grade collections looking to widen their diverse, upper middle grade offerings. Hand to fans of Malala Yousafzai's I Am Malala (Little, Brown, 2014) or Erin Entrada Kelly's Blackbird Fly (HarperCollins, 2015).-Brittany Staszak, St. Charles Public Library, IL © Copyright 2016. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.


Excerpts

Excerpts

NUMBER FOUR Today's Sunday and we're moving, again. Not every­thing fit in the moving truck, so our huge light blue Chevrolet Impala, or "land yacht," as the used-car salesman called it, is filled to the brim with boxes, pillows, and kitchen appliances. The back window's rolled down so the vacuum cleaner handle can stick out.      I am eleven years old, and this is my fourth move. I haven't met anyone who has moved so many times before sixth grade. Normal families move once or twice because they find a house with a swimming pool or more closet space, in the same town. Every time we move, it's to a new city or a new country.      I was born in Abadan, Iran. When I was in second grade, we moved to Compton, California. We stayed two years. For fourth grade, we moved back to Iran. Fifth grade, back to Compton. Now we're moving to Newport Beach. The two cities are only an hour apart, but they might as well be in different galaxies. In Newport Beach, there's no graffiti on the walls or overturned shopping carts on the sides of freeways. You don't see any stores with broken windows. There are trees everywhere and the city looks like it has just come back from a visit to a beauty salon. Where are the rusty cars with missing tires? Not in Newport Beach. There are a lot of those in Compton, usually on people's front lawns.      If our crazy nomadic life has taught us one thing, it's this: Don't buy stuff that breaks easily. Everything has to be packed sooner or later. Even our plants are made of plastic. Wherever we live, we have our fake red roses in the living room and the fake yellow daisies in our kitchen. They're ugly and don't look real at all; they look like those plants in horror movies that come to life and eat people. But they're one of the few constants in my life. At least they're always there.      The only time a kid came to my house after school in Compton, we were walking to my room when she suddenly stopped in front of the plants and asked what they were for. I thought that was a stupid question. I mean, how many possible uses could there be? They're just plastic flowers. But later, I realized that they are so big and ugly that they look like they should do something, maybe catch flies or squirt air freshener.      As we pull up to our new home in Newport Beach, I cannot believe my eyes. Our house has two stories and is surrounded by a huge lawn made of real grass.      "Do we have to take care of the whole lawn, Baba ?" I ask, trying to figure out where our part of the grass begins and ends. There is no chainlink fence between the houses, so it looks like everyone's living in a huge park.      "No," my dad says. "There are gardeners."      I look at my mom to see how relieved she must be to hear this, but she's busy using the mirror on the side of the car to reapply her pink lipstick.      Our house in Compton had a small patch of grass in the front and back. By the time we figured out how often we were supposed to water it, it was all dead. Some of our neighbors had fake lawns. From far away, they looked good--better than our real, dead lawn, anyway.      As we get out of the car, I see an older lady standing in the driveway, and she seems way overdressed for daytime. She reminds me of Mrs. Thurston Howell III on Gilligan's Island . My mother introduces herself as my dad tries to unload the vacuum cleaner, which by now is sticking so far out the window that it almost hit the tree next to the driveway when we pulled in.      "I am Nastaran Yousefzadeh," she says, making the whole sentence sound like one word. "Dees eez Zomorod Yousefzadeh," she adds, pointing to me.      I smile. I can tell the lady's getting nervous. She has no idea what my mother just said. She has this strained expression, like she's trying to smile but only half her face is cooperating. My father, holding the vacuum cleaner, joins us, and the lady finally says, "I'm Mrs. Mavis, your landlady. Hello, Mr. You--You--Yous . . ." Her voice trails off, which is fine, since we never expect anyone to get past the first syllable of our last name. Two points for trying, Lady Mavis.      Then she gives him a key and shouts, "DO NOT LOSE THIS POOL KEY!" She pauses, looks at each of us, and continues, "If you do, you must pay fifty dollars, that's FIFTY DOLLARS, for a replacement." Then, for reasons I cannot understand, she repeats herself, but this time, loudly and slowly, "DO. NOT. LOSE. THIS. POOL. KEY."      I so badly want to ask her, "ARE. WE. ALLOWED. TO. LOSE. THIS. POOL. KEY?" but I don't. My mom stands there smiling like a statue. My dad, still clutching the vacuum cleaner, keeps nodding his head and repeating, "Yes, yes." He does that when he's nervous, which is often. I just roll my eyes and walk through our new front door.      Our home is a "condo," short for condominium . I figure this out when the landlady gives us a binder, Rules for Condominium Living, which we also have to return when we move out. Apparently there is no fine for losing the binder.      "Zomorod," my dad says to me, "read this and tell your mom what it says." My mom hasn't learned much English. I always encourage her to try, but she says, " Az man gozasheh. "       It's too late for me.      That's the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard, and I tell her so. This always makes her mad. She says I should be a nicer daughter. But I am a nice daughter! I just don't want to be her translator for the rest of my life.      The rulebook begins with a "Welcome to Condominium Living!" page that shows a happy, good-looking blond family standing with another happy, good-looking blond family next to a barbecue, the fathers holding trays of hamburgers and hot dogs. We do not look anything like the people in the picture, but for once it doesn't matter. If there is one thing the Yousefzadehs love, it's grilling. My dad calls himself the King of Kebabs. I can almost imagine having a party with our new neighbors, just like in the picture--except that one of the families will be standing apart, holding a tray of bright orange, almost glow-in-the-dark chicken that everyone looks at but no one tries. This is what happens when you use saffron marinade instead of barbecue sauce. Excerpted from It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.