Cindy/Zomorod Yousefzadeh is living in 1970s California, just trying to be like everyone else. She dreams of things like beanbags and gauchos and is frustrated by her parents’ insistence on hanging on to their life in Iran. Sure, Cindy – as she wants to be known (like one of the Brady Bunch) – misses her cousins and other family still in Iran, but she would maybe like to fit in, too.
Her neighbors and friends at school don’t seem to really know much about Iran, at least not until the Shah is overthrown. Suddenly, everyone has an opinion, and she has to explain her culture constantly, attention which she would happily avoid. Before long, she finds herself trying to protect herself and her parents from ignorance and stereotyping.
What’s nice about this book is that it captures a moment – the 1979 Iranian revolution and the hostage crisis – from a unique perspective, one with a lot of humor which could provoke some really interesting conversations with kids. Cindy and her family are not refugees, but as immigrants, they are outsiders. Her father is a businessman working in the oil industry, but that doesn’t make them any less affected by the crisis when it happens. How would moving to another country affect our perspective? Would we be able to laugh about the embarrassing mistakes we made? How would we react in Cindy’s situation? How can you defend your country and culture without agreeing with what’s happening there?
It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas