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

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  2,323 Ratings  ·  386 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
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 27th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Apr 24, 2011 Virginia rated it liked it
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
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
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
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
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
Jan 02, 2012 Kathryn rated it it was amazing
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
Apr 16, 2011 dragonflyy419 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 13, 2011 Lisa rated it it was amazing
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
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
Aug 30, 2012 Sabrina Rutter rated it it was amazing
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
Dec 21, 2011 Cheri rated it it was ok
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
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
Meg Mardian
Feb 18, 2016 Meg Mardian rated it it was amazing
Having grown up in Iran and being familiar with Persian customs and traditions, I found this book difficult to read only for the reason that I felt too much of the pain and sadness of the characters, and they were close to home. So I would say this is a very accurate portrayal of the hardships that women face there. The idea of the good daughter and the good girl have been with me my whole life, and I'm sure for many other people it also helped mold the person they became. It's even harder to co ...more
Feb 21, 2011 Pat rated it liked it
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
May 30, 2012 Michelle rated it liked it
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
Apr 05, 2016 Abby rated it liked it
My friend gave me this book and it made me want to learn more about Iranian culture. The chapters on the wedding got to me the most, along with her tense relationship with her tired, struggling father. The mother proved that even across borders, mothers do not waver on their beliefs, values, or children. Great read and nicely paced.
Aug 20, 2015 Melissa rated it it was amazing
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
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
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
Becki Basley
Jun 26, 2016 Becki Basley rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Aug 12, 2014 Karalynn rated it liked it
Shelves: biography, nonfiction
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
Not great, not terrible.
Aug 05, 2016 Denise rated it it was amazing
Synopsis: Jasmin Darznik and her parents came to America from Iran when she was only three years old. In her early twenties, (shortly following her father's death) she was helping her mother move and a photograph fell from a stack of old letters. The girl pictured was her mother -- and she was wearing a wedding veil. At her side stood a man whom Jasmin had never seen before.
Jasmin's mother, Lili, refused to speak about the photograph and her previous life. However, a few months later, she receiv
Feb 12, 2016 Judy rated it really liked it
With Iran such a significant player on the world stage, it was enlightening to read this memoir of
20th century life in a country steeped in tradition yet attempting to modernize. Jasmin Darznik's account of her mother Lili's life encapsulates that struggle.

While sorting through her mother's belongings, following the death of Darznik's German-born father, shes discovers a wedding photo of her teenage mother with a man Darznik has never seen before. Lili refuses to speak of the photo, but some wee
Mar 25, 2011 Lindsey rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 13, 2013 Kim Miller-Davis rated it it was amazing
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
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)
Nov 26, 2012 Aban (Aby) rated it liked it
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
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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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“If he could not restore her to the status of a respectable woman, then Sohrab would make her into something else entirely, something hitherto unknown in their entire extended family, an educated woman, a professional woman.” 0 likes
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