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It Ain't So Awful, Falafel

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,452 ratings  ·  729 reviews
Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh is the new kid on the block . . . for the fourth time. California’s Newport Beach is her family’s latest perch, and she’s determined to shuck her brainy loner persona and start afresh with a new Brady Bunch name—Cindy. It’s the late 1970s, and fitting in becomes more difficult as Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and finally t ...more
Hardcover, 378 pages
Published May 3rd 2016 by Clarion Books
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Marcia Not mean - self absorbed and ignorant (truly lacking in interest and understanding of others).
Not mean - self absorbed and ignorant (truly lacking in interest and understanding of others).
Ella Freihage The writer lives in Germany. So no.

The main charecter does not. At least I don't think.…more
The writer lives in Germany. So no.

The main charecter does not. At least I don't think.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 4.25  · 
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 ·  3,452 ratings  ·  729 reviews

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Michele Knott
Jul 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I lost count how many times I laughed out loud.

"Why let people only see the worst of the world? That's just upsetting and scary. It's not even the whole truth. If you're going to show bad news, show the good stuff too. It's just as important - actually more important."

Such a fabulous book! It Ain't so Awful, Falfel is a thought provoking, culture rich, retro tween novel that adults can enjoy too. I laughed . . . I cried . . . I felt the twinge of peer rejection, cultural frustrations, and parental embarrassments, right alongside Zomorod. Af
Dec 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. I laughed a lot, it had its sad moments too.

It's the life of a normal immigrant middle-schooler and challenges she faces like when she has to play translator role for her parents, or when she is the new kid at school and tries to melt in. At the same time it tells the story of my home country in a period that changed everything for it and us(the people).

When revolution happens in Iran, US and Iran relations were ruined forever and it shows how it affected normal people's live
Mar 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
Booktalked this one to middle schoolers in Winter 2017.
We talked about pivotal days in your life - how some days you remember forever. Mine was 9/11. Some of the kids were days their parents told them they were getting a divorce, or major injuries. One said the Paris attacks of 2015.

For Zomorod/Cindy, it's the first day of the Iranian Hostage Crisis of the late 1970s.

It sounds very dramatic, but this book is more meandering than that. I read this book on lunch breaks from work, which might hav
Abby Johnson
Loved this one!

This book is a great mix of funny and serious as Cindy (Zomorod) navigates her middle-school years as an Iranian living in California just before and during the Iranian Revolution and subsequent Iranian Hostage Crisis. It reminded me of one of my favorite books I read over and over again as a child - Judy Blume's Just as Long as We're Together - for a combination of the time period (historical now, contemporary then) and the loosely plotted friendship story. As the Iranian Hostage
Apr 10, 2016 added it
Shelves: read-in-2016
A really fabulous middle grade read about growing up in 1979 America as an Iranian during the Iranian Crisis. Cindy's voice is funny and perceptive without ever being too smart for 11/12. The situations and challenges with friends, with American customs, and with wanting to be a hero in your own family are realistic.

Readers who are interested in this part of the world or the history here would do well with Dare to Disappoint: Growing Up in Turkey which is about the Turkish revolutions; it might
I really enjoyed this. I listened to the audiobook, narrated by Dumas, and she read it perfectly. I'm definitely going to try out her other books.

Oddly enough, this was the second ya book I've read this year set in the US during the Iran hostage crisis. I find it a bit strange because the kids I know who read at this level would not be very interested in a book set in that time period. But lots of adults my age would like the trip down memory lane.

I think this book is actually somewhat relevant
Aryana Parmar
Oct 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2019-caudills
Wow, this was a really good book! I think it was really inspirational and motivational and had such an amazing ending and twist! I think everyone should read it!
Sep 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: young-readers
What a beautiful semi-autobiographical account of an Iranian girl living in California in the late 1970s! Zomorod (Cindy) Yousefzadeh tells of her hilarious, lonely, and insightful experiences in America in her witty, comedic, and relatable voice. She shares her family’s immigrant struggles: her mother’s sadness away from her country and her resistance to assimilate into the American culture; her family’s tendency to avoid all things dangerous and all regularly-priced goods; her father’s philoso ...more
Dec 31, 2015 rated it really liked it
I read both of Firoozeh Dumas earlier adult books and enjoyed them both. Having worked with two Persian women I am intrigued by the future and an ardent fan of their food. Two thumbs up for anything with eggplant! I must say I liked this middle grade novel even better. I zipped through the pages, it was immensely enjoyable and very easy to relate to "Cindy" as the protagonist dubs herself after struggling through life in America as Zomorod. Additionally, I learned a lot more about the Iranian Re ...more
Nov 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: english-books
Yet another brilliant novel by Firoozeh Dumas! I love how effortless she writes and how easily she can make you laugh or cry. Seeing the revolution from another perspective was a great and strange experience.
Ms. Yingling
Aug 26, 2015 rated it really liked it
ARC from Baker and Taylor

Zomorod's family has been in the US for a while, since her father's job as a petroleum engineer has taken them out of their native Iran in the late 1970s. When they move from Compton to the more well-to-do Newport Beach, she decides to reinvent herself as "Cindy" and try to be more "American". This is hard, especially since her mother doesn't speak much English and insists on giving their new neighbors Iranian food that isn't quite what the US palate expects. She has a g
Reading is my Escape
It Ain't So Awful Falafel
To all the kids who don't belong, for whatever reason.
This one's for you.
- Dedication
My dad says that the dogs and cats in America are luckier than most people in the world.
- page 34
My dad always says that kindness is our religion and if we treat everybody the way we would like to be treated, the world would be a better place.
- page 40
... only bookworms get excited over other bookworms
- page 69
"Who would ever have thought that a person could be so powerful, then so
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I recently read that adults should be more in the habit of taking book recommendations from young readers--especially from the young readers who live in their home. So I asked my 11 year-old bookworm to go to the library with me and pick something she thought I'd like and that we could discuss afterward.

Before I review the book that she chose for me, I should say that this particular bookworm will be starting middle school in the fall--not just starting middle school, but starting middle school
Oct 16, 2016 rated it it was ok
Zomorod would rather be called Cindy. She loves everything American, and is frequently embarrassed by her mother, who can't speak much English. They've just moved to Newport Beach and it's the late 1970s, when the Iran Hostage Crisis is just about to hit the news. Cindy's dad loses his engineer job, then can't find another one. Cindy herself is just trying to get through junior high, and thank goodness for her best friends, because hatred and prejudice against the Middle East and Iran is heating ...more
Mary Sanchez
Zomorod Yousefzadeh is moving again the summer before sixth grade from Compton, California to a condo in Newport Beach, California in the late 1970s, because her father is an Iranian petroleum engineer relocated to America. This time Zomorod is adopting the name "Cindy" from the Brady Bunch because Americans can't pronounce her long Iranian name. Besides her own crisis of trying to fit in, there is a word wide crisis instigated by her own home country--Iran. This crisis of holding Americans host ...more
Jun 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I wish I could give this 10 stars. I keep thinking about the book "Wonder" - helping develop empathy in readers is a powerful thing. This book does that too, but from the perspective of an Iranian girl living in the US in the late 70s. Hilarious, heartbreaking, wonderful story.
Sep 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
I really liked the story and historical aspect of it. So many things I could relate to because I was a kid in late 70's and early 80's. Not sure who the audience of this novel would be? Great story though!
Dec 22, 2016 rated it it was amazing
So many stars for this book! I adored the narrator's voice and humor as well as how much I learned from her accounts of her own experience and of political events.

"People who hate just happen to be the loudest."
Sep 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A middle grade novel about an 11 year old Iranian girl growing up in Southern California before, during, and just after the Iranian revolution of 1979. Funny, sweet, and sad (but mostly funny). I learned so much about 20th century Iranian history while enjoying myself.
From my review on my blog.

Every once in a while a book completely surprises you. This was one of those books. I had heard about it in an article in Time Magazine referencing the #WeNeedDiverseBooks movement which I have followed for some time. The book sounded like a fun read and I was thrilled when I managed to get a library copy over the summer.

The premise of this book is that Zomorod Yousefzadeh has just moved to Newport Beach. Zomorod is an 11 year old Iranian girl whose father works for the
T.J. Burns
Entertaining, educational, emotional, and informative.

I read It Ain't So Awful, Falafel with my 9-year-old daughter and it constantly provided us with food for long discussions. Since I grew up in the US at the same time as Zomorod (Cindy) and my daughter is straddling Middle Eastern and American cultures while living in Europe, we had a lot to discuss.

I could relate to the pop culture and political background, as well as the location, having lived in southern California for 8 years. During ou
Jun 09, 2017 added it
Shelves: children-s
My daughters and I just read It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel together. My oldest read it first and loved it so much that she suggested we all read it together. It was an incredible book and a very poignant reflection on our current fragmented social and political climate. Even though it takes place in the 70s, we can see that some things have improved and sadly some haven’t. The narrator is a wonderfully intelligent and optimistic Iranian girl. The plot follows her trials and tribulations as she atte ...more
t a n y a
My 12yr old thoroughly enjoyed this book and insisted I read it.
I can now see why he liked it so much! It was laugh outloud funny while still being a serious book set during the late 70s at the time of the Iranian hostage crisis - a period of time which I lived and remember very well.

The writing was so well done; it brought back a lot of the news of the time for me - our neighborhoods' trees were covered with yellow ribbons for the hostages and only after they were freed, did the ribbons come d
Aug 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, juvenile
This book is monumentally important. It is heart-breaking and inspiring. It is honest. It is hysterical. Most importantly, it gives the reader so much more than another finished book on a shelf. I laughed as "Cindy" struggled to fit into middle school, remembering how I struggled to fit in, as well. I hid tears as her family is thrown into a deepening depression at the hands of racism and hate, thinking of how today's political climate is too much alike to that of the 1970's and 80s.

I will enco
I read this one to my 10-year-old son. I was just a couple of years younger than he is now during the Iran Hostage Crisis, the time period for this middle grade historical fiction, and found this book as interesting as he did. This story of an Iranian middle school student living in California in the 70s is a perfect balance of serious, important themes and laugh-out-loud funny moments and imagery. I plan to give this one to my 14-year-old to also read and to get at least one of the two document ...more
SO GOOD. It Ain't So Awful, Falafel is from the POV of an Iranian girl living in America during the Iranian Revolution. This book pairs well with Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis. I know so much more about those events in history, and the impact they had on Iranian families in Iran *and* in America, from reading these two books. Also, tears.
Apr 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Although set in the 1970s, this story is very timely in its exploration of anti-muslim prejudice and intolerance. The main character is likable and empathetic. Her feelings and actions to protect her parents are totally understandable and a bit heartbreaking. A great story for middle schoolers to read to start to understand that what is happening today has happened before.
Minseo Kim
Dec 24, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book had a great insight on the perspectives of a historical event (the Islamic Revolution in Iran) and life in America through a girl's personal life story. It was very enjoyable and I loved how the story progressed into new conflicts between the characters and how the time changes help us focus on the main points the story is trying to convey. :)
Jan 21, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I really loved this book and couldn't put it down. I was born in 1975 and grew up during the time period of this book, but really had no clue about the political climate, unrest, hatred especially towards Iranians who were living here. I wish I could say that I was surprised, but to see the sentiments of this book repeated throughout our history is exactly why books like this are so important.
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Firoozeh Dumas was born in Abadan, Iran and moved to Whittier, California at the age of seven. After a two-year stay, she and her family moved back to Iran and lived in Ahvaz and Tehran. Two years later, they moved back to Whittier, then to Newport Beach. Firoozeh then attended UC Berkeley where she met and married a Frenchman.

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