Review: It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

Aint-So-Awful-FalafelBook: It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel (2016)
Author: Firoozeh Dumas
Genre: MG, Near Historical [1970s]
Rating: 4 stars

Basic plot: Cindy’s family comes from Iran. Her real name is Zomorod, but she thinks she’d rather be called “Cindy” as she attempts to navigate middle school life in the U.S. But it’s the 1970s and things over in Iran aren’t going well. When news of the Iran Hostage Crisis hits, suddenly her dad loses his job and people are telling her to go back home to Iran. What can she and her family do?


1) This is a very relaxed book in many ways. It’s set in the late 1970s and there’s a lot of nostalgia here. It does take some time to get to the hostage crisis.

2) The relationship between Cindy and Brock is nicely developed. As her friend Carolyn points out, you can tell they “like” each other, but I’m glad it’s just kept at the mutual-crush stage. I really don’t like it when middle-grade books put in some kissing scene, and I’m happy this book doesn’t go there. It just remains sweet and awkward and… well, sweet.

3) The friendship between the girls is lovely! Even when others are telling her family to go home, the girls (Carolyn, Rachel, and Dewey) stick by Cindy. The Halloween scenes are especially fun.

4) The parents are hilarious. I love the bit about the mom and how she’s always trying to force-feed everybody. Like with Skip and the grape-leaves. And the father is a really good dad. I just love his support of his daughter.

5) The theme of kindness is much needed in our world today. I love how she quotes from A Streetcar Named Desire (about the kindness of strangers)… and that’s true when it comes to characters like Skip (one of my favourites! He’s also the guy who speaks the words of the book’s title…) But really it’s more the kindness of friends that help Cindy and her family out.


1) I found the book a little long. We don’t get to the hostage part until over half-way through the book. It actually sat on my night table for quite a while before I decided to read it, and I think that may have been because of the page count.


My rating is 4 Stars (out of 5) – I loved Cindy/Zomorod. She was a likable character. And reading this book was definitely meant to feature her character. I loved the historical setting and learned a lot about Iranian customs.


Have you read this book? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Note: I’m posting this for Greg Pattridge’s Marvelous Middle-Grade Monday

21 thoughts on “Review: It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel

  1. There probably aren’t many middle grade kids who know about the Iran hostage crisis so I love the idea of being able to introduce them to not only the historical event but also how others in the U.S. might have been affected. On an unrelated note, I love falafel and definitely don’t think its awful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Agreed! I love it when we can learn historical events through books… especially those events we’re not as familiar with. And, like you mentioned, few middle schoolers will probably know about the hostage crisis.

      The title is fun, isn’t it. It makes more sense once you meet one of the characters!


  2. I remember this period well — I was in college and had a friend marry a man from Iran — and she had to flee. There is a large community of Iranians in Cincinnati who were part of the Shah’s regime. Such a tough time! This book would interest me, because there isn’t a lot written about Iran.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thanks for this informative and inspiring review. I did not know what it was really about, but I remember the Iran Hostage Crisis. I was just starting college when it happened. And I’ve had this in my ebooks for so long, but haven’t read it. Now I will, though.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I vaguely remember the Iran hostage crisis. This seems timely for today’s political atmosphere too, with so many people being told to “go home”, even if they were born here! Nice review, Maria!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You’re right. We do need more books with a message of kindness. This sound pretty fun. By the way, I was at a conference about 10 years ago, and an editor from one of the big houses said, “Don’t send me any historical fiction, and, yes, the 1990s are historical!”

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: My Top Reads… from 2020 | Of Maria Antonia

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