Click on book for description or to download. (I downloaded free on 1/16/13)
By Rahimeh Andalibian
Time it took to read: 9 nights. Not because of lack of reading – I read every night – this is a LONG book. It is an auto-biography of Dr. Andalibian’s life, her whole life to date. Did I mention it was long?
That sounds harsh. It was a book out of my comfort zone about a young girl and her family growing up in Mashhad, Iran during the late 70’s, early 80’s all the way up to current time. I downloaded it because of the great reviews and to broaden my knowledge of another culture. I do enjoy books that include historical facts with a story (usually fictional) woven in – historical fiction. The story and struggles of this family were just as good (meaning it would be hard to make this stuff up) as fiction. So full of drama that you’d almost wish it were made up as you can feel the pain of this family through young Rahimeh’s eyes. A pain that lasts a lifetime for them.
Rahimeh is the only daughter to “Maman & Baba”, has 3 older brothers (Abdollah, Hadi, and Zain) and 1 younger brother (Imam). The story starts out when she is 4, describing their life of luxury at the Rose Hotel, which her family owns, in Iran. It quickly fills up with drama, both political and within their family, and takes a dark turn. The family is forced to make many changes including moves to Germany, England, and eventually the US. Each family member has their own share (really enough for anyone’s lifetime) of struggles, most centered around one tragic event, but also physical, mental, emotional, and cultural. Throughout the book, the reader learns more about this “event” as Rahimeh does too. Just when you think you know it all – more details come out – even at the very end. I found it hard to believe the details a 4 year old would remember, but it seems as Rahimeh got older, she asked more questions, so many of the details may not have been first hand, but later described to her by other family members.
It is not a happy story. I’d say it was wrapped up nicely at the end – but as an autobiography – the author was able to choice where in her life to end the story and I believe she chose well. I was more into the story in the beginning, that was where there was more of a tie in to current events in Iran and I liked reading how the family dealt with those events on a personal level. As the story moved over to the US, it was interesting to see how an Iranian family assimilated into American culture. But it also spent a lot of time on personal struggles not related to the times or culture and tended to drag on and even became repetitive and cyclical at times. I hesitate to criticize to much because it is a true story after all – so it is not as if the author can change that – but with the length – I feel some parts may have been better off left out.
Overall it was a good read. I feel smarter (which is good for me because of some of the fluffy, chicklit books I tend to gravitate to. It took me out of my comfort zone and I commend Dr. Andalibian for sharing her story. I think I may need something shorter and lighter before diving into another book like this.