Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Review: Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America

Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America Funny in Farsi: A Memoir of Growing Up Iranian in America by Firoozeh Dumas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

She really is funny. Regardless that Firoozeh (Julie, for a very short time) is telling about her immigrant life from Iran, I recognized so very much of my own childhood in Firoozeh's. Although there are memoirs of immigrants that have suffered as outsiders, Firoozeh finds the humor in it. I found myself laughing out loud and then reading to my family or retelling a story. It is so hilarious. I think I am absolutely in love with Firoozeh's father.

Before the Iranian Hostage Crisis, what did Americans know about Persia? Nothing, really. Maybe we heard there was oil somewhere there. Had I seen Firoozeh at school, I would have agreed with her assessment. She looks ethnic. But indeterminately so in the early 1970s. Okay, actually, I still think I wouldn't have been able to place her ethnicity even today. But imagine being new to a country from a country that nobody has heard of. Then getting lost at Disneyland. Or deciding your name is just too difficult and announcing to your mocking family that you are changing your name to something American. The introduction to that chapter had me in absolute hysterical fits of laughter, by the way.

The best paragraph is in the chapter where she discovers that her father is going to go to the Very Bad Place because, as a Muslim (secular, but still), ham is forbidden and her father loves ham. His words to her are so poignant and so universal, I printed them out and hung them in my office. It is apparent that Firoozeh lives the philosophy he taught her that day. The essence (since I am not in my office right now) is that what we eat, who and how we worship, our skin color, or whatever the world defines as making us different is irrelevent to God. He sees us for who we are and how we treat one another. Amen.

View all my reviews

Review: Born Survivors

Born Survivors Born Survivors by Wendy Holden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is one of those books that is so meticulously researched and the detail is so realistic, it hurts to read it. I think what struck me the most about these stories and the women besides the fact that they were able to hide their pregnancies for so long, is that they were cadavarous humans we have seen with the dead eyes. Their birth stories are told in one chapter which all occurred near the very end of the war. Just to be clear, that time period was the time that the Third Reich were actively destroying all evidence of their crimes, including the prisoners they had starved, mistreated, dehydrated, and abused. The book follows a timeline for each woman that builds to the complete dehumanization of them by the time they enter Auschwitz. Each woman was greeted with the Angel of Death who asked them, "Are you pregnant?" Each woman answered that they were not.

The title of the book indicates that the babies were born but that, surprisingly, is not the take away for me. It was the complete lack of humanity they were born into. Of course, I can't discount the acts of kindness in the village that nearly made me weep, or the women prisoners that somehow fashioned a layette for one of the babies. But the nations, as a whole, turned a blind eye while the guards and SS were completely sadistic. Each of the children's births were so appalling. Unsanitary is a huge understatement. These mothers held on to the ever elusive hope of a better world for their babies. They did not give up although it would have been easier to do so. Yet that was their strength. It is also completely miraculous that they were not selected time and time again to go "left" which was always death.

Reading this book was all consuming. I can not imagine how the author did all of the research and wrote what she did. Most of all, I can not imagine what these prisoners and all of the others endured, lived and died. There really are no words to truly give this book the description it deserves.

View all my reviews

Review: The Dutch House

The Dutch House The Dutch House by Ann Patchett
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Another very well written book by Ann Patchett. The story weaves together a generational flaw that is misunderstood and redefined by the following generation. It is about having it all yet having nothing then having nothing and not recognizing having it all.

View all my reviews

Review: The Giver of Stars

The Giver of Stars The Giver of Stars by Jojo Moyes
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This was a different genre than I have read by this author. A historical fiction book of America post WWII, Moyes proves to be an author that can weave a beautiful story based on a snapshot moment in American history that is significant and well represented. In fact, I liked this book better than her previous books. It was more relevant and historically significant. Also, I definitely enjoyed the characters that were introduced.

View all my reviews

Review: A Madness of Sunshine

A Madness of Sunshine A Madness of Sunshine by Nalini Singh
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

On the rugged West Coast of New Zealand, Golden Cove is more than just a town where people live. The adults are more than neighbors; the children, more than schoolmates.

That is until one fateful summer—and several vanished bodies—shatters the trust holding Golden Cove together. All that’s left are whispers behind closed doors, broken friendships, and a silent agreement not to look back. But they can’t run from the past forever.

Eight years later, a beautiful young woman disappears without a trace, and the residents of Golden Cove wonder if their home shelters something far more dangerous than an unforgiving landscape.

It’s not long before the dark past collides with the haunting present and deadly secrets come to light.

The author is a master at describing the beautiful landscape of this New Zealand village, including a cast of characters one might find in any village with the same circumstances. The very rich and those who work hand to mouth. Sometimes they cross the lines and join together. Sometimes the suspicion falls on the "other."

View all my reviews

Review: The Wives

The Wives The Wives by Tarryn Fisher
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I liked this book but I did not feel drawn in enough to put my life on hold to read it. Honestly, the premise is great, the character development is purposely shady, and the wrapping up at the end is unexpected. I liked that the narrator is unpredictable and perhaps untrustworthy.

View all my reviews

Review: Valentine: A Novel

Valentine: A Novel Valentine: A Novel by Elizabeth Wetmore
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This book is kind of a conglomeration of short stories that are building blocks for the bigger story. A horrible crime is committed in a small, West Texas town, right on the cusp of the big oil boom. There are a number of characters that each tell a piece of the story. It begins with a 14 year old Mexican American girl as she summons her strength and courage to stand up and walk from the truck where she was assaulted for many hours while the young man was liquored up and on an amphetamine high until he passed out leaving her beaten, bleeding, partially naked, and violated.

The questions of a small town and race are at the heart of this book. Who will stand up for the under represented? Who will see them as children and equals? Who will protect the young man who just did something stupid one night? Or who will see that maybe he has this violence in him and may offend again?

The best part about this book is the writing style. It was the details that brought visual pictures to mind. The sounds of the desert or the sounds of the city, the author describes very well but not ad nauseum. Just enough that the reader perks up her other senses and feels more for the characters in the book. I will gladly read anything Elizabeth Wetmore writes.

Thank you to the publisher for an Advanced Reader's Copy in return for an honest review.

View all my reviews