Book: 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.
WHAT’S NOT COOL…
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…