In novelist Rachlin's autobiography, she tells of her life through high school in Iran (1950s and 60s) and then of her building a new life in the United States. In the beginning I was afraid I wouldn't get through it because the early parts are so tinged with anger and resentment, even at family members she later forgives. At the age of nine she is stolen by her father from the childless aunt who was raising her in Tehran and brought to live with her birth family in far away Ahvaz. There she finds indifference from her mother, jealousy from one sister, and love from another. Her father, perhaps just because that's how it was in Iran, exercises near total control of her life. All she wants is to escape an arranged marriage, like those that oppress her sisters, and the chance to learn and write, in America. By the time she lands at a small women's college near St. Louis, the writing becomes less heavy-handed. She survives four troubled years there and graduates before escaping to New York City where she finds shelter at a Judson Church housing community and does graduate studies in psychology at the New School.
The America part of the book is longer than the Iran part, but as you might imagine, Iran and her beloved sister Pari and aunt/mother Maryam are always with her and continue to be strong in her thoughts. You learn a lot about life in Iran under the Shah, under Ayatollah Kohmeini, and its bloody conflicts subsidized by the U.S. I always like a little history thrown in with my reading, so this was a real plus, even the pages that give the necessary facts and background, but don't move the story further. I'm looking forward to reading her novels now. And will return Persian Girls tomorrow, since someone put a recall on it. I'm glad they did, forcing me to pull it from the stack of to-reads on my desk at work.