Monday, April 29, 2019

Middle Grade Monday Book Review- Taking Cover: One Girl's Story of Growing Up During the Iranian Revolution by Nioucha Homayoonfar

Welcome to Middle Grade Monday! Today I am reviewing a new release from National Geographic books, Taking Cover: One Girl's Story of Growing Up During the Iranian Revolution by Nioucha Homayoonfar.

The Story- 
The year is 1986 and Nioucha is sixteen years old and living with her family in Iran. Her father is Iranian and her mother is French. While taking a walk, Nioucha's head scarf accidentally slips and is she is arrested by the Black Crows, or moral police. For what they consider inappropriate behavior, they take her to an isolated building and imprison her.

As Nioucha is alone, she reflects over what has happened in the last few years to her beloved country. She came to Iran, from Pittsburgh, USA, when she was five years old. She recalls the love of her family, her Aunt and Uncle, Cousins and Grandparents. Everything was wonderful in Iran. Nioucha felt free. She had enjoyed attending a school with fellow boys and girls who liked to run and play with her. She makes friends with another girl, Anahita, whose mother is also French.

But then everything changed when Iran's government leader, the Shah, was overthrown.  Now,  Ayatollah Khomeini rules. He turns the country into the Islamic Republic of Iran and issues orders that all people follow his version of Islamic laws.

Nioucha is young and can not understand the new rules.

She notices simple changes at first. Boys and girls are no longer allowed to go to school together. Then, girls are made to wear a uniform, and the next year a headscarf. As time goes on, any kind of contact with boys that aren't a relative is considered a crime, even just talking.

 Her father's family follows Islam faithfully, but these new rules don't mesh with what they've taught her. Nioucha and her classmates now study Islam in school and are forced to adapt to the rules of the Islamic Republic. Opinions at school are not encouraged. As a teenager, Nioucha rebels in her own way. She has a boyfriend and listens to Michael Jackson's music. But, all the time, the worry of being arrested, beaten, or killed follows her.

Nioucha's  memory returns to 1986 to continue the story, and she is let go from the Black Crows capture. She rushes home to her frightened parents, and soon it is clear that the family can no longer stay in Iran. Since her mother is French, Nioucha, her brother and their mother are allowed to leave the country, but her dad must wait six months before they know if he will be able to join them. The rest of her family must stay in Iran. Her cousin had tried to escape once, and was beaten almost to death.

Nioucha aches for Iran and though she is thankful to be in America, to go to the University of Pittsburgh, and get a degree in Art History, she misses home. In 1998, she was able to make a return visit with her father, though her mother and brother stayed in America for fear of him being drafted into the Iranian military.

Even now, the "smells, sounds, and colors of Tehran" hit her at random moments.

My Thoughts-
Wow, my eyes were opened to events I had very little knowledge about. Reading the real life story of Nioucha, of seeing her in Iran before and then during the Iranian revolution, had me captivated. During her decade in Iran, her life changes dramatically and she struggles to understand the Islamic customs of her family and the new Islamic regime of the Republic of Iran. Her life, the changes in it, and the conflict that affects her family portrays this struggle as readers are shown, not told.

Kids will relate to Nioucha. It doesn't matter that it is a different county, or religion. She is a teenager. She wants to listen to music, have a boyfriend and wear cool clothes. Her life during the turbulent times of the revolution allows readers to get a peek into a world where freedoms are taken away. It is a timely story that will stimulate conversation about politics, religion, society, and the simple fact that we are all human beings.

A bonus is the photos in the middle of the book that are of Nioucha and her family while living and visiting Iran. I'm giving this book 4 stars! The storytelling is great, but I had a few issues with  info placement.


11 comments:

  1. I also enjoyed this book and agree it was an eye-opening experience. Thanks for keeping it out there to entice more readers.

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    1. I'd say I did it on purpose, but it was just when I got to it in my TBR pile, lol

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  2. I haven't read or heard of this one. Thanks for the review.

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  3. This one is in my book basket - gotta get to it soon! I remember this happening (what I heard and read in the news) - can't wait to read Nioucha's book!

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    1. It shed a lot of light on a situation I remember from when I was younger.

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  4. Wow. This sounds like it deserves a wide readership. Thanks for telling me about it.

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  5. Oh, I want to read this book! I love the history packed into it -- remember the time very well. I have a friend whose father was an Iranian ambassador to the US at the time the Shah was over thrown. There is a large community that fled living Iran, living in Cincinnati. Top of my list for this summer.

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    1. Wow, that is amazing. You will enjoy the book.

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  6. Just checked my library and requested them to order this book! Can't wait to read it. I remember this time well!

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