My rating: 5 of 5 stars
A poignant story of love and loss, blood ties and found family. In this multi-generational tale taking place in Los Angeles, California and Tehran, Iran spanning 80 years of family history, we follow three young men as they come of age in their respective times, falling in and out of love and dealing with personal and cultural conflict.
The story begins in 2019 with Moud and Saeed, an out gay teen and his aloof, unsupportive father. They leave LA in the States to visit Moud’s ailing grandfather Bobby in Tehran. There, Moud learns more about where he comes from, the political struggles plaguing his family’s native country, and some secrets about his family that change his current view of his own relationships.
We move to a time in the not-so-distant past, 1978 Tehran, with Saeed as a young man and strong-willed activist seeking to change the failings of his country’s government. He’s not looking for love but finds it, and falls hard, only to have it ripped away. His political involvement has put his family and himself in danger and he must flee to America to live with his estranged grandmother he knows nothing about. He discovers information about his family and past that he never would have guessed, profoundly changing the trajectory of his life.
Then we travel back to 1939 Los Angeles, and the golden age of Hollywood. We are introduced to a very young and naive Bobby and his ruthless stage mom. While Bobby strives to pursue a career in the limelight and keep his homosexuality a secret, he combats feelings of love, betrayal, loneliness and pride as he learns self-acceptance with the help of mentors and community.
In addition to the narrative, the author shows us some true history regarding the political situation in Iran, which was very interesting to me. I fully admit I was unaware of the civil unrest there, as well as the treatment of the LGBTQ+ community. This, of course, parallels with the gay underground movement the author depicts in the 1939 LA sections of the book. It’s telling to see the similarities between these different times and cultures, and how they relate to our current political landscape in America. As we all know, if we obfuscate or deny our past mistakes, we are doomed to repeat history, as we are seeing now.
Overall, the author brilliantly transitions from each time period and point of view. Sometimes these multi-POV stories get confusing or feel like someone is lacking, but not so here. I felt deeply for each character, their pain and longing evident throughout. The story has sad moments, but I wouldn’t give it a snot-bomb warning. The characters are endearing and you want to root for them.
I highly recommend this book and you should read it if the story is appealing to you. I think this is one people will be looking at and you will hear about it again.
𝙏𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙠 𝙮𝙤𝙪 𝙉𝙚𝙩𝙂𝙖𝙡𝙡𝙚𝙮 𝙖𝙣𝙙 𝙃𝙖𝙧𝙥𝙚𝙧𝘾𝙤𝙡𝙡𝙞𝙣𝙨 𝘾𝙝𝙞𝙡𝙙𝙧𝙚𝙣'𝙨 𝘽𝙤𝙤𝙠𝙨, 𝘽𝙖𝙡𝙯𝙚𝙧 + 𝘽𝙧𝙖𝙮 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙥𝙧𝙤𝙫𝙞𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 𝙢𝙚 𝙬𝙞𝙩𝙝 𝙖𝙣 𝙖𝙙𝙫𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚𝙙 𝙘𝙤𝙥𝙮 𝙞𝙣 𝙚𝙭𝙘𝙝𝙖𝙣𝙜𝙚 𝙛𝙤𝙧 𝙖𝙣 𝙝𝙤𝙣𝙚𝙨𝙩 𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙞𝙚𝙬. 𝙄 𝙡𝙞𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙙 𝙩𝙤 𝙖 𝙨𝙮𝙨𝙩𝙚𝙢-𝙜𝙚𝙣𝙚𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙚𝙙 𝙖𝙪𝙙𝙞𝙤 𝙧𝙚𝙘𝙤𝙧𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 (𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙖 𝙝𝙪𝙢𝙖𝙣 𝙥𝙚𝙧𝙛𝙤𝙧𝙢𝙖𝙣𝙘𝙚). 𝙈𝙮 𝙧𝙚𝙫𝙞𝙚𝙬 𝙞𝙨 𝙗𝙖𝙨𝙚𝙙 𝙤𝙣 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙗𝙤𝙤𝙠'𝙨 𝙘𝙤𝙣𝙩𝙚𝙣𝙩𝙨, 𝙣𝙤𝙩 𝙩𝙝𝙚 𝙣𝙖𝙧𝙧𝙖𝙩𝙞𝙤𝙣.
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