It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

It Ain't So Awful, FalafelIt Ain’t So Awful, Falafel
by Firoozeh Dumas
Grades 4 & up

Zomorod (who prefers to be called Cindy) is about to start 6th grade in Newport Beach, just south of LA. She was born in Iran, but spent a few years in Compton for her father’s job, then back to Iran, and now is back in California. It is 1978, and the unrest in Iran is beginning to be shown on the evening news in the United States. Cindy is doing her best to fit in to her middle school. It is hard with a mother who refuses to learn English and desperately misses her family in Iran. Cindy finds herself translating not only language, but jokes and customs as well. Just when Cindy is finally finding her place at school, the Shah is deposed and Americans are taken hostage. With the anti-Iranian sentiment cropping up everywhere coupled with the despair at home, Cindy faces battles on every front. Told with plenty of humor, this is an important perspective on being the “other.” The universal themes of wanting to fit in and being embarrassed by your parents will resonate with middle schoolers everywhere. Highly recommended for grades 4 & up.

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