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A Good Country

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  912 ratings  ·  174 reviews
An achingly timely novel about the radicalization of a Muslim teen in California--about where identity truly lies, and how we find it.

Laguna Beach, California, 2009. Alireza Courdee, a fourteen-year-old straight-A student and chemistry whiz, takes his first hit of pot. In as long as it takes to inhale and exhale, he is transformed from the high-achieving son of Iranian imm
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Paperback, 256 pages
Published June 28th 2018 by Bloomsbury Publishing (first published May 23rd 2017)
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Katherine This book is intended for an adult audience. I'm not sure why it gets described as young adult fiction... The writing style and story line would…moreThis book is intended for an adult audience. I'm not sure why it gets described as young adult fiction... The writing style and story line would appeal mostly to adults. There is also some fairly raw adult content that I would be cautious of putting in the hands of teenagers. (less)
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3.84  · 
Rating details
 ·  912 ratings  ·  174 reviews


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Elyse Walters
Mar 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is EXCELLENT......and oh my frickin crackers, ....[I've been in these shoes before].....> My Emotions and Thoughts are AT WORK!!!!!

The story begins-- Part One - in Laguna Beach, California- Fall 2011
We meet Rez Courdee.....take a journey - with 239 pages -with Rez, (Reza, Ras al- Ayv), ending with the Epilogue- in Syria -March 2014.

Being a teenager for Rez, age 14, with parents who are Iranian immigrants, with a very strict father, to boot, is like "a surfer who is repeatedly gett
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Joseph Spuckler
What I have marked below as spoilers is not much more, if anything, than the book jacket tells the reader. M

(view spoiler)
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Book Riot Community
Alireza Courdee has always been a straight-A student, working to make his Iranian immigrant parents proud. But he’s also a fourteen-year-old boy, and he has begun engaging in normal teenage behavior: experimenting with drugs, sneaking out to parties, surfing, sex. But what begins as a time of carefree experimentation for Reza slips into dangerous territory when he joins a group of boys who share his background and soon finds himself on his way to Syria. A Good Country is a timely and powerful re ...more
kelly
Wow, this was good. Timely. Informative. Scary.

The novel starts in 2009 in Southern California with the life of 14 year old Rez Courdee, the son of upper middle class Iranian immigrant parents. He is Muslim by birth but does not practice, identifying more with American culture, surfing, hooking up with girls, and smoking pot. In time, several terrorist attacks occur and Rez, who has never questioned his identity, is ostracized among his mostly White peers as 'the other.' He begins to find solace
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Barbara Tsipouras
Why do young wealthy Muslims who are second generation immigrants leave everything behind to go to Syria to join the Islamic State?
Reza, a Californian boy with Persian heritage, is searching his identity. How to be a man? How to be good? He's an excellent student despite all the partying, drugs and surfing.
It's not hatred that changes his mind, it's his longing for love, acceptance and belonging.
This different POV is thought-provoking and heart-opening.
Alan Rice
Khadivi's style is compelling. She recreates a California teen's voice with rapier-point accuracy, and delves the mercurial mind of her main character, Rez, with remarkable insight. As we follow Rez through his high school years, his initiation - and then obsession - with sex and drugs, his friendships, his complex relationship with his father, we are at once appalled by his bad choices and yet hopeful that his good nature will overcome his confused but compelling appetites. We keep hoping for a ...more
Bookread2day
The author of A Good Country writes with a gentle rhythm ? Some of the sentences made me laugh like Hey, faggots! Who's got the tightest pants over the there? And some of the story is quite sad. Rez had enough to eat and good clothes to wear plus he had a nice school to go to. Because he got a B his father told Rez that he is lazy and that he is a disrespect to him and his mother. Rez gets mixed up with a girl who has a delicate box of thin wood with elephants painted on it, inside was a small p ...more
Beth
Jun 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Not the smoothest read, but I truly understood Rez. Fascinating to follow his journey. 4 stars instead of 3 because the radicalization of American teens is a scary issue. This story allowed me to follow along for the journey and will give me material to mull over for the next several months. Has slightly altered the lens I view current events.
Priyanka Sofia
Aug 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve now read four novels along the themes of otherness and radicalisation this year, including Home Fire by Kamila Shamsie, The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid and Horses of God by Mahi Binebine.

I loved this novel, took me a while to read it because it’s not an easy read and Khadivi’s writing style takes some getting used to: it’s poetic, spare, realistic – slightly overworked in places - but she accurately captures the voice of a teenager, so much so that I double checked that she wa
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Brandon
Apparently a novel about the struggle of young Muslim Americans embedded in white Anglo communities to discover themselves and their culture while experiencing the environmental pressure to assimilate to Anglo culture. A interesting premise to be sure but the narrative was clouded by too much hype and story time devoted to teenage sex, drugs, and rock n' roll so to speak. The contradictions of the protagonist were difficult to endure as well - a very intelligent teen making a slew of extremely p ...more
Ingrid Contreras
Sometimes we turn to fiction for the things we don’t understand. My favorite novels are about a lunatic, a pedophile, twins with an incestuous relationship—Don Quixote, Lolita, The God of Small Things, respectively. These books have brought me to the shores of the unforeseen and the unexplainable. Looking at things from the other side of the mirror has value; this is what we’re after when we read fiction—we want to be taken far away, and we want to return, with something new to show.

The third in
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Karlan
Apr 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: adult, older-ya
Iranian American Reza finds surfing pals and sex during his junior year but a series of events lead him to change and begin going to a mosque. His parents are not religious people and don't realize what is happening until it is too late. Few Iranians are drawn to ISis, but the author shows how it could happen to a vulnerable teen.
Bookish Linguist
Mar 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Current Issues
I was one of the fortunate people to win this in a giveaway on Goodreads. I give this 4.5 out of 5.

I have not had a lot of practice in reviewing, so please forgive me!

I believe at the core, this is a coming of age story. This is the third book in a loose trilogy following an Iranian family through their troubled history in Iran to America and then, finally, back again. Are we in control of our fate? Is there any point in trying to change yourself or your future? This book, even after I turned th
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Carla  (happiestwhenreading)
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2017
Thank you to Trident Media for the free finished copy for review. All opinions are my own.
Rez is a young teenager who has it all. He was born in America to Iranian immigrants but has identified with the American culture from the very beginning. He attends a prep school in Laguna Beach and enjoys surfing with his friends. After a surfing trip to Mexico doesn't end so well, Rez finds himself ostracized from his regular group of friends, but he eventually finds solace with other Muslims students. A
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Judith
Jul 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This story is close to home: set in Laguna Beach, CA in modern day, it relies on current events as well as additional imaginary events. It concerns an American teenage boy whose Iranian parents immigrated to California before he was born. Although he is 100% American, wealthy, privileged, and extremely well educated, he deals with insults and racial prejudice on a regular basis. I can only imagine how difficult this must be for people of this background. The story follows Rez through his high sc ...more
Lisa
Jul 06, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This review is difficult to write, because radicalization scares the crap out of me. It reminds me of Jim Jones, Charles Manson, Warren Jeffs and/or Hitler. And it is happening in America!

This is the story of a boy who grew up where I grew up! Went to the beaches in Southern California that I used to go to every weekend. Which made this fictional story that much more real to me.

Rez is an American born teen with Iranian parents. Grew up with all the things you wish for for your children...good
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Shona Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom
This is completely different to the types of books I would usually read, but I've found myself in this weird book funk where it can take me a couple of weeks to read a book. However this one I was able to read in just a few days.

My biggest issue with this book quickly became one of the things I loved most. The lack of speech marks. There is none. At first it was a little off putting, it was difficult to differentiate between Rez's inner monologue and his dialogue with friends. But the entire bo
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Mom
Jul 20, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
A captivating story that I read compulsively. Rez, the teenaged son of Iranian immigrants, leads a privileged life in Southern California in contemporary times. A high-achieving student, Reza seems to have it all: good family, brains, wealth, friends, girlfriends, health. He becomes dissatisfied with his life, posing typical coming-of-age questions -- but then what? (And by the way, do conscientious Southern California parents really give their children so much freedom -- really???) How does he ...more
Stephanie
This was an easy read, but a thoughtful read.

We have Reza, an all-American teenager from a Middle Eastern family who tries their best to blend into American culture.

This was very much a coming-of-age book. The overwhelming theme was Rez's desperation to find his identity and sense of belonging.

The place in which he found it was surprising to me and I only wish that more time could have been spent on the last "chapter" of the book. It was so jarring and I almost could not believe what I was re
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Ming
Sep 12, 2018 marked it as dnf  ·  review of another edition
DNF'd. I read to page 105 and I could not connect with the characters or care about them. Rez is just about to change... the impending turn is so close to happening. And I realized that it made no difference to me, whether he did or didn't.

The third-person perspective and the tone distanced the characters from the reader. I also have tired of reading about this age group and esp. when they're in Southern California.
Anne Ross
Sep 16, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I gave it 50 pages but I was more aware of the writing than getting swept up in the story. The writing, while clear and detailed, made me think it was trying too hard; it was too heavy-handed or deliberate. I wanted to like this book because I'm interested in the topic, but I just couldn't get into it.
Tash Green
Captures well the disenfranchisement of youth from Muslim backgrounds (even if not practising) and the itch for belonging and community that ISIS scratches. Beautifully written, melodic prose. I found some of the sex scenes a bit unnecessary in detail - would not recommend for teenagers. I also thought some of the details were a bit unrealistic which irked me.
The Irregular Reader
Reza “Rez” Courdee is the son of Iranian immigrants living the good life in Laguna Beach, California. Rez considers himself a typical American teenager, partying, dating girls, smoking pot, and surfing with his friends. When most of his American friends stop talking with him after a misunderstanding while on a surfing trip, he finds himself befriending other local Muslim kids. After several high-profile terrorist attacks on American soil, Rez feels isolated by the quiet suspicion of his schoolma ...more
miss.mesmerized mesmerized
Reza Courdee is living the typical teenage life in California. He has got his friends with whom he likes to spend time surfing in the ocean and haging around at the beach and he also has his first crush and makes first sexual experiences. He plays soccer and he is highly achieving in school. Yet, with his new bunch of friends, he neglects his former interests and spends more time consuming drugs and doing nothing which does not really agree with his parents’ – immigrants from Iran – expectations ...more
Karan
May 26, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Literary fiction that engages with contemporary politics and state-of-the-world have two big hoops to jump to keep me engaged: give me an insider to root and an insider's view of what it is to live the reality otherwise captured and compressed from the outside by journalists. Khadivi, whose work I am completely unfamiliar with, achieves this with her urgent prose. In a fairly slim book, she captures the quickly changing landscapes within and outside for Rez, an affluent, Berkeley-bound, second g ...more
Paul
Oct 09, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Well-intentioned, well-written but ultimately unsatisfying chronicle of a young man's path to radicalism. Rez is a typical OC teen in love with surfing, doing drugs and scoring girls. Except he's also a second generation American of Persian descent. He generally has figured out a way to fit in by being all things to all people but surfing and the ocean is his passion. Only there does he can feel he can relax and be his true self. Unfortunately a botched surf trip in Mexico and a mall bombing in ...more
Anika Tng
I think this book lacked depth. It was too short. The author didn’t explore the human psyche enough to truely expose the process of going from a regular American teenager to a Syrian fighter. As a caucasian female, who doesn’t have a particular relationship with God, it was hard for me to relate to the main character, to fully understand at which point his thinking switched, and I needed more help from the author to walk me through it, the million little steps that people take in that direction ...more
b talbot
Jul 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
a book that traces the steps an iranian-american high school student takes from straight A southern californian surfer kid to extremist. there are no easy answers just like there is not just one thing that changes your life direction. instead, it is a series of small, incremental injustices, wrongs, slights, misunderstandings that contribute to this change.

my initial reaction to this text is to doubt it, but that is also why i wanted to read it. as much as fiction can inform our world, this text
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Katie Fike
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-tbr
WOW THIS BOOK.

I absolutely loved this novel! A timely, emotional and scary story about an American Iranian teenager finding his identity, and his Muslim faith in a post 9/11 world. It has beautiful, lyrical prose and wonderful character development for such a short book. I really enjoyed every part of this book. It starts off with some light California teenage 'surfs up' vibes. Lots of experiments with drugs and sex. Then we move into heavier territory once terrorist attacks become more frequent
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Jonathan
Dec 26, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Since 9/11, there has been increased interest in using fiction as a way of exploring the issue of terrorism, and specifically the process by which someone is radicalized. Fiction allows an author to humanize without rationalizing, to explain without justifying--distinctions so important to the topic.

In A Good Country, Laleh Khadivi explores the process by which a second-generation Iranian-American teenager in Southern California, born to secular/non-religious parents, ends up becoming an ISIS s
...more
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Laleh Khadivi was born in Esfahan, Iran, in 1977. She received her MFA from Mills College and was a Creative Writing Fellow at Emory University. She has been awarded a Whiting Award, a Pushcart Prize, and an NEA Literature Fellowship. She has also worked as a director, producer, and cinematographer of documentary films. Khadivi lives in Northern California.
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“I like parents, old-school, old-world parents. So real. Just think of all they've seen in their lives. They were born in another world and now they can watch it on Google maps. So much change for a single soul to see.” 6 likes
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