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The Good Daughter: A Memoir of My Mother's Hidden Life

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,212 Ratings  ·  376 Reviews
We were a world of two, my mother and I, until I started turning into an American girl. That's when she began telling me about The Good Daughter. It became a taunt, a warning, an omen.

Jasmin Darznik came to America from Iran when she was only three years old, and she grew up knowing very little about her family's history. When she was in her early twenties, on a day shortl
ebook, 336 pages
Published January 27th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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Disclaimer: I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program. (Awesome!)

I did not know a lot about the recent history of Iran prior to reading this book, aside from having watched the movie Persepolis. It was a little hard to wrap my mind around all of the things that happen to the author's mother, which seem so medieval - these were recent events, relatively speaking. The author's mother is the same age as my mother. (Who had a very different life.)
Feb 18, 2011 Nancy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We were a world of two, my mother and I, until I started turning into an American girl That's when she began telling me about The Good Daughter. It became a taunt, a warning, an omen.

Jasmin Darznik came to America from Iran when she was only three years old, and she grew up knowing very little about her family's history. When she was in her early twenties, on a day shortly following her father's death, Jasmin was helping her mother move; a photograph fell from a stack of old letters. The girl pi
Sep 19, 2012 Marianna rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Exceptionally well written. Gives a small glimpse into life in Iran (and really most of the Middle East) in the 40's, 50's and 60's. I believe that a careful reading will give Western minds much insight into the culture of that region. While life for women is different today, the cultural mores in place then continue to inform the culture today.

I have two complaints with this book however. One, there are no pictures. They would have done much to enhance the story. Two, the ending seemed abrupt.
Sep 15, 2011 Sara rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biography
I wish I'd liked this one more. It was interesting to learn about the lives of women in Iran over the past 50+ years, but I didn't love the author's style and ultimately wondered how she could remain so detached from the story herself, given that it was her own parents and grandparents she was writing about. The story is terribly sad, as Darznik recounts her grandmother and mother's lives of poverty, abuse, oppression, vulnerability and sacrifice. As an American woman (in all of my modern, immod ...more
Feb 10, 2011 Azarin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A simple look at the book-cover of The Good Daughter reveals that, unlike most of the other books in this genre, these memories don’t belong to the author but to her mother’s. This distance between the writer and the protagonist adds an element of fiction to the narration, which makes the book closer to a fictionalized memoir than a classic memoir which is only about the author's own memories, or at least this was my expectation.
Now that I’ve finished the book, I should congratulate Jasmin for h
Apr 16, 2011 dragonflyy419 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This tale is beautifully rendered and brings the reader into the lives of women in Iran. Darznik shares details of family life and the rituals surrounding the Muslim faith and living in Iran primarily during the 1950s and 1960s.

Central to most of the women’s lives seems to be food. Descriptions of food from the preparation of it to daily snacks to vast feasts served are prevalent in the book. The way Darznik writes one can almost smell the saffron infused cooking, feel the crack of seeds between
Jan 02, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
The author grew up in California, the only daughter of an Irani mother and a German father, and as she grew up American rather than Irani, her mother would compare her with the Good Daughter back in Iran, who was a girl devoted to her mother and who would never dream of dating or wearing short skirts or rebelling against her mother’s authority. The author grew up and moved to New York; in her middle twenties her father died, and when she and her mother were sorting through boxes, the author foun ...more
Feb 13, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: iran, memoir
The Good Daughter has everything I love in a book. It's an intimate look into another culture, a woman's relationship with her mother, and her journey towards understanding and truth. It's an honest and beautifully told memoir of a modern American woman who is seeking to understand and appreciate her deep, deep roots. In writing The Good Daughter, Jasmin Darznik has succeeded eloquently on all accounts.

This story is so rich and layered, it's almost hard to believe that it's a memoir and not a n
Oct 23, 2011 Raina rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
If you are not familiar with the recent history of Iran prior to reading this book you may find it a bit difficult to wrap my mind around all of the things that happened to the author's mother. This is an easy read in how it was written but it was very difficult to read having grown up how I did in the United States being extremely fortunate to have not had to deal with such things. This story is VERY powerful and truly transforms the simplicity of the writing. The author's mother, Lili, lead a ...more
✟Sabrina Rutter✟
This story begines with the passing of Jasmin's father. After being away from home for a long time Jasmin Darznik travels home to see her father sent off to Germany for burial, and help her mother pack her things for the move to more affordable housing. It's while packing things away that Jasmin comes across a photo of her mother as a young bride with a groom that is not her father. This baffles Jasmin, and needless to say piques her curiosity. What follows is the story of how that photo came to ...more
I read this book for the January book club at church. I can't for the life of me figure out why they chose it. I read the reviews of the book before I read it, and that may have been part of the let-down. I was preparing to be "inspired" and "enthralled." I ended up being "pissed off" and "aggravated." There is nothing inspiring about women who continue to endure abuse generation after generation for themselves and their children. I understand the cultural aspects at play here, but these women w ...more
May 27, 2012 Jinnychoi rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a hard time putting this book down. I found the story to be sad and powerful at the same time. I felt that the women in the story, considering their background to be very strong women. It very easy to inject our own experiences and viewpoints onto these women. For example saying that these women should have left their abusive and drunk husbands or gone against traditional customs of marriage and expectations. We cannot take our own cultural and moral beliefs and impart them on to what thes ...more
This is called a memoir but also seems to be an adult daughter's coming to terms with her past. The author knew nothing about her own history nor her mother's life in Iran until she saw a photograph of her mother as a young teen dressed as a bride. Her mother would not talk about it, but subsequently recorded her life story on tape which she sent to her daughter and which became this book.

I had a series of reactions while reading. This will sound harsh, but I have gotten tired of the horror stor
Feb 21, 2011 Pat rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a fast,ok read. It did offer a new perspective on the life of a female in the Shah's Iran and in America after evacuating during the revolution. The shouthearted way these women kept striving to make their lives and thier childrens lives better regardless of the circumstance is remarkable. While the insight was enlightening the charactors did not pull me in and really make me a part of them. After reading the book it does not draw you back to relive any part of the experiences of t ...more
It's hard to rate this book because while I loved the voice and the story was fascinating, there were so many parts that I just found frustrating. It goes without saying that the men were abusive and domineering and selfish, but the women? Rather than band together and support each other they were back-biting and vindictive and just plain horrible.

I just couldn't imagine some of the cruelties that they imposed on each other during dark times.

And I thought that Lily was hypocritical. How is it
Aug 20, 2015 Melissa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I'm really in a memoir mood as of late. I love to read these "true" stories and take brief glances into the everyday life of other people. This book was especially interesting because the characters are so different from me. I loved learning more about Iran including some of the history and traditions of the Islamic protagonists. These types of stories always remind me of those universal truths that we all share, no matter how different we may seem. We all yearn for kindness and acceptance; peac ...more
Nov 03, 2015 Natalie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This book, upon picking it up from the library shelf, fascinated me at once. It centered around a woman's life, it was about Iran, it was long, it was true, and the reviews on the back looked promising. And, for the most part, it did not disappoint. The prose was beautiful, and the story was astounding. I mean, what a life this woman led! She survived abuse as a child bride, went on to get an education after her divorce, and got a medical degree in a foreign country in which she didn't know the ...more
Dec 07, 2014 Erica rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Kristine Munoz
To put it succinctly: This book is A Thousand Splendid Suns written by someone who wasn't there and feels in a hurry to get to the next part...for 300 pages.

I picked this book up at the library, and was very pleased I read it. The stories in it are fascinating, the Iran of this book a beautiful and mysterious place. All this drama and heart and passion in the book was not helped in the slightest by the writing style. While sufficient, Darznik manages to seem removed from it all. Also, I confess
If I encountered this book in a store, I would not feel inclined to pick it up, nor take it home with me and consume it. The premise of this memoir sounds mediocre at best, but I gave it a shot since my book club decided to read it for the month of August.

Brief Summary: Jasmine Darznik writes about her Iranian mother's entire life. Hook: Her mother, Lilli was married and divorced before meeting Jasmine's father; she also has a daughter, Sara, from her first marriage.

Admittedly, I enjoyed readi
Apr 10, 2012 Lisa rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bluestockings
I found this memoir a fascinating window into Iran and most particularly the lives of women in Iran. It reads as though it is a novel and I found it impossible to put down.
Jul 03, 2011 M.H. rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not great, not terrible.
Mar 25, 2011 Lindsey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book was fantastic! (I would like to read a middle-eastern memoir that paints a positive picture of middle-eastern men--this one, as well as all the other middle-eastern memoirs I have read, does not.) I was completely appalled at the plight of all the women in the book. I felt like they were treated as property and slaves and the women just accepted the shit from their men and told themselves it was their ghesmet (destiny). One line from the book really spoke to me about how the Irainains ...more
Kim Miller-Davis
This was a powerful and heartbreaking story about the bonds of mothers and their children. The author paints a detailed description of 20th century life in Iran, while delivering an emotional wallop of a story that can be extended to mothers of all nationalities about the "choices" we are forced to make to protect ourselves and our children. I loved this book for its beautiful narration (at times, it was reminiscent of Hosseini's Kiterunner). Because Darznik made it seem like she was simply tell ...more
Mehr Ebr
Dec 02, 2013 Mehr Ebr rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: analysis
I expected much from the book since I had enjoyed Jasmin's magazine article about her life as an immigrant, her mother and all her iranianness in a foreign land, the experience of exile...
I did not like the book.
She can make excellent little life frames, but writing a book length memoir requires more skills. Although I read the book in a gallop in two days, I wasn't awed by it. The iran part didn't remind me of Iran a bit, it didn't smell of iran, taste of iran, it didnt have the color of Iran.
Aban (Aby)
This is a memoir of the author's mother. Up til the time of her father's death, Jasmin Darznik knew very little about her Iranian mother. Then, on finding a photograph of her mother as a child bride, she started to wonder about her mother's past. Her mother responded by recording her life story on a series of tapes, thus revealing a past she had kept secret for many years. Lili, the mother, was a remarkable woman. Born in Iran, married to an abusive man at the age of thirteen, she nevertheless y ...more
Oct 25, 2012 S rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I found this to be a very touching tribute of an Iranian/German daughter to her mother who for most of her life, she seems to have misunderstood and not really known, that was until the death of her German born father. The author, Ms. Darznik, flies in from Back East where she is finishing extensive graduate school, to be with her mother and help her pack up a life that she now can no longer afford. Whilst doing this, she inadvertently stumbles upon an old, black and white photograph of her moth ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius
Dec 29, 2012 Deborah Ideiosepius rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Deborah by: Steve
Shelves: non-fiction
This book riveted me – the author, on going home at her father’s death discovers a photo that opens up to her a whole aspect of her mother’s life that she had never known or wondered about. Upon asking her mother about it she is rebuffed, but over time her mother sends her a series of tapes on which she has recorded the story of her life, her mother’s life and her grandmother’s. This story is the story that the author heard from those tapes.

It is a rich, vivid, often tender and as often barbaric
Jen Johnston
Apr 19, 2011 Jen Johnston rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read2011
I really enjoyed this book. I can't remember how I stumbled upon it, but once reading the summary, I was hooked. The book focuses on the life of the author's mother and grandmother. It is as much about life in Iran as it is about a woman's role in society, culture, food and mother and father-daughter relationships. In some ways it was a mystery as I turned the page wondering if the author would venture back to Iran and meet Sara. It was very well written and felt much more like fiction than non- ...more
Jul 08, 2012 Jessica rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir
Jasmin Darznik is a successful, first-generation, Iranian American—a lawyer and English professor who remembers little of the country she left as a child. After her father dies, she finds a wedding photo of her mother, Lili, at her wedding to a much older man.

Lili is unable to talk to her daughter about the photo, but after Jasmin returns to her own home, Lili sends her audio tapes that tell the story of her childhood, first marriage and life prior to Jasmin's birth. The book is a memoir, but it
Athira (Reading on a Rainy Day)
Jasmin Darznik's The Good Daughter is a beautifully written compelling biography about her own mother, Lili, who was born in Iran -- almost doomed to a docile and probably condemned life but instead goes on to pursue her studies in Germany and eventually moves to the United States at the dawn of the revolution. The book is full of all things Iranian that I love. The revolution is a sour taste in the whole of Iran's history, but the people who came forward to say that story have been wonderful. J ...more
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Born in Tehran to an Iranian mother and European father, Jasmin Darznik has contributed to the New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, San Francisco Chronicle, and other publications. She received her doctorate in English from Princeton University and is a professor at Washington and Lee University.
More about Jasmin Darznik...

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