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It Ain't So Awful, Falafel
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It Ain't So Awful, Falafel

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  737 Ratings  ·  232 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 July 1st 2016 by Houghton Mifflin (first published May 3rd 2016)
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Michele Knott
Jul 22, 2016 Michele Knott 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
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 24, 2016 Kelly 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
Mary Louise 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
Dec 31, 2015 Sarah 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
Sep 10, 2016 Patrick 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!
Jun 20, 2016 Ann 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.
katayoun Masoodi
Oct 06, 2016 katayoun Masoodi rated it it was ok
Shelves: children, ebook
DNF, and so didn't like it.....ah can't even start to say how pitiful and dumb downed and trying to be cute the book was. i really didn't like the voice of zomorod/cindy, i didn't like the small chapters and the boring writing, didn't like the non-human, caricature like characters in the book. Definitely not my book and i am a bit sad cause i had such high hopes and liked her other books, well, you can't be a winner all the time :(
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
Ms. Yingling
Mar 08, 2016 Ms. Yingling 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
One of those rare books that made me both laugh out loud and cry. I also learned a lot. If at times Cindy seems a little mature for her age, or the Iranian history lesson falls a little heavily, it is easily forgiven. A winner.
Sweet, and incredibly timely.
Jun 25, 2016 Kristen rated it really liked it
I learned so much from this book! Great read. I can't wait to recommend it to my kids this year.
Dec 15, 2016 Maryam 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
Jun 17, 2016 Alexandra rated it it was amazing
In continuing my theme of choosing diverse texts which explore what it is like to be separated from those you love, I read It Ain’t So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas, about a young girl named Zomorod, who goes by the name Cindy, and lives in California with her parents during the late 1970s. At first, Cindy’s main concerns are that no one can pronounce her name, she has to act as a translator for her mother who does not speak English, and people ask her ignorant questions such as whe
La La
I am holding off giving this a star rating until I talk to some readers who wear hijab head coverings, and hear their reaction. I came away from this story with the impression the author is representing all hijab wearing as forced, which I know is not true. Whether this was intentional or not, it is still bothering me.

The story started out wonderfully, but began snagging up on inaccuracies like junior high being 6-8 grades in the 70s before middle school became a grade classification. Jr. high w
Feb 25, 2016 Vicky rated it it was amazing
This book was so much fun! First of all, I’m only three years older than “Cindy,” so the historical setting was very clear to me, from gauchos to Captain & Tenille to puka shell necklaces. (Just gonna plead the 5th on which of those I was a fan of.)

Historical context aside, I was also a bookish, nerdy girl with a parent who wasn’t “from America”, just looking for a place to fit in. I identified with Cindy’s journey as she found a core group of friends who appreciated her for who she was. The
Mary (BookHounds)
I loved Dumas first two memoirs and went to see her speak and it was HILARIOUS! My son's best friend is Persian and as neighbors we always had the best time at their extended family parties. This cute and quirky story about adapting to a new culture is just wonderful. Also, what really drew me in to the story is that the author first lived around the corner from me and went to the same grade school, but not at the same time since I was a few years ahead of her.

The story centers around Cindy and
Grace Wright
Aug 21, 2016 Grace Wright rated it it was amazing
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jun 09, 2016 Margaux rated it it was amazing
I loved this book. A strong female protagonist from a realistic historical fiction that's semi-autobiographical. Zomorod (aka Cindy) has just moved again, this time to Newport Beach. In a world full of blondes who want to tan, she comes from an Iranian family who believes in the beauty of a lighter complexion. Her mother is depressed because she misses her sisters, and neither parent can speak much English. While Cindy is their translator, she also chooses what information to tell her parents in ...more
Aug 23, 2016 Carrie rated it it was amazing
This book was on the juvenile shelf, but I enjoyed it very much as an adult. I feel it has such important messages of acceptance and tolerance that we need today. Dumas explains some things specific to Islam, but I feel her overarching message is that kindness matters no matter what. I loved this book for its humor dealing with growing up and the universal need for fitting in and awkward feelings of pre-teen/teens. Dumas was writing as an Iranian transplant, but I identified with her description ...more
This is wonderful book that is at times very funny, but also quite serious. Zomorod, who goes by Cindy and her family have moved to California from Iran due to her father's job in the oil industry. The beginning of the book focuses on Cindy trying to fit in and make friends as she starts middle school. A lot of the humor focuses on her parents and how they embarrass her. This book takes place during the 1970s when the Shah is overthrown and Khomeini comes to power. This is all very upsetting to ...more
Carly Thompson
A middle-grade novel about an Iranian immigrant in 1970s California during the Iran hostage crisis. Cindy is a funny and sympathetic heroine and the vignettes of her life in California were excellent. The girls I read the book to enjoyed the humor of the story, but I think some of the explanations of politics in Iran were a little too advanced for them (I found them a little didactic, but for kids with no prior knowledge of Iranian - U.S. relations wouldn't have this problem) . This is a good ch ...more
May 01, 2016 Jana rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I received a free copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

This book follows an eleven-year-old girl who moves from Iran to America and is supposed to move back at some point, which is however being prevented due to the Iranian Revolution. This book is semi-autobiographic which made it all the more emotional and I loved seeing the girl grow up and adapt to America, I loved seeing her make friends, and it was very emotional to see her and her family's reactions t
Jul 11, 2016 Lisa rated it really liked it
This is a great middle-grade novel that takes place in California in the late 1970s. Zomorod, or Cindy, is Iranian, which means they're in America during the time of the revolution and taking of American hostages. It's interesting seeing Iran change through their eyes. There are good messages about fitting in and being yourself.

ETA: My 11-year-old also gives this 4 stars. He says the title makes the book seem more childish than it is and made him reluctant to read.
Read for librarian book group
There were a lot of good and interesting details about being a late-70s temporary resident to the USA and then even more good and interesting details about being a temporary resident from Iran living in the USA during Khomeini's takeover and the hostage crisis. Those details kept me reading. It wasn't terribly plot-driven, and thus I wasn't super compelled to keep reading, but I enjoyed the reading while it was happening.
Really lovely middle grade with well-drawn characters that I loved and rooted for. Cindy is the new girl in school, having moved from Iran to California, and the story follows her through two years of middle school as she makes friends, helps her parents, and figures out school. Set during the time of the Iran hostage crisis, this delved into that topic without feeling at all didactic, and the relationships between Cindy and her friends and family are the best parts of the book.
Aug 05, 2016 Colette rated it it was amazing
A fantastic, laugh out loud book for not just the middle school set.

"I assume Mrs. Linden is one of those people who can't find Iran on a map, and who thinks we live in tents with no running water and like to take hostages as a hobby. My dad says that people like that are not truly horrible; they just need a geography class, a passport, and a few foreign friends."
Dec 10, 2016 Clay rated it really liked it
12-13YO Iranian Zomorod, in America with her fam during the Iranian Revolution/Hostage Crisis, rechristens herself Cindy as one of her many resourceful, desperate, and mostly hilarious coping strategies to simply fit in. Recommended.
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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.
More about Firoozeh Dumas...

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“I realize that Original Cindy is a compass, but instead of pointing north, she points to “horse story.” 0 likes
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