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

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3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  2,368 Ratings  ·  393 Reviews
"Superb... riveting... a moving tribute." -The Cleveland Plain Dealer

"A wrenching and unforgettable tale." -BookPage

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,
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Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 27th 2011 by Grand Central Publishing (first published January 1st 2011)
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10th out of 291 books — 120 voters
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Inspirational women
4th out of 84 books — 23 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Virginia
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.)
Th
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Nancy
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
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Marianna
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.
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Sara
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, ...more
Azarin
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
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Kathryn
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 ...more
Mala Ashok
Sep 24, 2016 Mala Ashok rated it really liked it
Jasmin Darznik has written a powerful memoir with great sensitivity.
She has captured the essence of what it meant to be a woman in Iran over three generations. Even the youngest, Sara, seemed to show in her picture that even though she was young , "Barely fourteen years old..she knew everything she would need to know: how to swallow a cry before it came."
For someone brought up in America Darznik has done a remarkable job in her memoir of her mother.
Lisa
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
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Raina
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
dragonflyy419
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
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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
Lia
Sep 19, 2016 Lia rated it really liked it
An engrossing story set both before and after the Iranian Revolution. It's difficult to even imagine what this family must endure, specifically the tribulations of the author's mother.
Diane
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
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Jinnychoi
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 ...more
Cheri
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 ...more
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 ...more
Pat
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 ...more
Michelle
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
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Melissa
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; ...more
Abby on Piper St
Apr 05, 2016 Abby on Piper St 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.
Lisa
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.
Sarena
Jun 27, 2013 Sarena added it
AMAZING
M.H.
Jul 03, 2011 M.H. rated it liked it
Not great, not terrible.
Vikki
Oct 25, 2016 Vikki rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2016-reads

i heard jasmin darznik on the diane rehm show talking about this book a few years ago, and maybe my mom did too, since i found it on her bookshelf not long ago. i picked it up after finishing my last book and was drawn in immediately by the picture she drew of her mother's and grandmother's lives in pre-revolutionary iran. i like books about muslim culture and the lives of women in religious societies, so this book captured my interest pretty quickly. darznik is a capable writer, although at tim
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Jane Petley-Jones
Nov 14, 2016 Jane Petley-Jones rated it really liked it
Interesting picture of Iran over several decades.
Quite a sad picture of family life and the status of women.
I found it did not engage my emotions particularly, though it was engrossing enough to want to finish it.
Pauliina Lassila
Kiinnostava tarina,. kirjoitustyylistä en ehkä niin tykännyt. Mutta mielenkiintoinen katsaus Iranin lähihistoriaan ja elämään siellä ennen ja jälkeen vallankumouksen.
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
S
Oct 25, 2012 S rated it liked it
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 ...more
Deborah Ideiosepius  omnivorous reader
Dec 29, 2012 Deborah Ideiosepius omnivorous reader rated it really liked it
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
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Sarah Whitney

At night she fell asleep wondering whether he would wake up angry or happy the next day. As soon as he left for work in the mornings, she would try to guess whether he would come home for lunch or stay away until dinnertime. What could she do to please him when he returned? Should she greet him with a smile, or should she avoid his eyes until he spoke to her? Should she comb her hair and put on a fresh dress for him? Would he be glad to see her looking pretty or would he accuse her of having ma
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I'm the author of THE GOOD DAUGHTER, a memoir about three generations of women in my family. My historical novel SONG OF A CAPTIVE BIRD is forthcoming from Random House.
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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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