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In Iran in 1953, an army driver finds a baby girl abandoned in an alley. Moved by pity, he brings her home with him, though his much older wife Zahra is angry with his choice. The driver names the girl Aria and he is determined to love her and raise her as his daughter.

The book follows Aria’s early years culminating in the Iranian Revolution. Hints of what is to come appear through the pages and readers familiar with Iranian history may recognize certain names and events. For the most part, the book is centered on Aria’s growth and her relationships with the three women who raise her: the cruel Zahra, the wealthy Fereshteh, and the mysterious Mehri.

With a few exceptions, I found the women and their stories more interesting than Aria’s. Though she does gain more agency as she grows from an abused child into a young woman, it often feels that the most interesting actions occur around her rather than to her or because of her. The connections between her three mothers, on the other hand, were fascinating and could have been their own novel. While some may enjoy this book, I have to confess I found it wanting.

Reviewed By:

Author Nazanine Hozar
Star Count /5
Format Hard
Page Count 448 pages
Publisher Pantheon
Publish Date 18-Aug-2020
ISBN 9781524749033 Buy this Book
Issue August 2020
Category Historical Fiction


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