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Persian Girls

3.89  ·  Rating details ·  3,182 ratings  ·  548 reviews
For many years, heartache prevented Nahid Rachlin from turning her sharp novelist's eye inward: to tell the story of how her own life diverged from that of her closest confidante and beloved sister, Pari. Growing up in Iran, both refused to accept traditional Muslim mores, and dreamed of careers in literature and on the stage. Their lives changed abruptly when Pari was ...more
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published October 5th 2006 by Tarcher
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Average rating 3.89  · 
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 ·  3,182 ratings  ·  548 reviews

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A really excellent book right till the end - and the very last sentence, which might in other books of the same nature be the very first, overwhelmed me and left my eyes hot with tears.

If you don't know much about the Shah of Iran, the popular movement that spawned the revolution that brought the Ayatollah to power and turned a modern state into a fundamentalist Muslim country, you will after reading this book. But not from a political point of view as much as one that details the differences in
This was an alluring story about a Persian girl growing up in Iran during the days of the Shah. When she is born, her mother gives her to her sister, who can't have children. She is raised by her single, widowed aunt, who is truly the mother she knows, until the day her father decides that he will take her back because she is of the age when she needs to be raised with a man in the household.

Imagine being nine years old, separated from your mother, and placed in a household where everyone feels
3.5 stars

Nahid Rachlin writes with impressive fluidity, making this memoir read more like a novel. Good flow. It moves fast, and yet is a complete story. She tells of being given to her Aunt Maryam to raise, because Maryam was unable to have children. So Maryam was her "mother." But then her father abducted her when she was nine years old and he decided it was time for her to live with her birth family in another city. She was miserable there, but her sweet older sister Pari gave her the love
Oct 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I read this excellent memoir in two sittings. The writing is fluid and compelling and easily takes you into the author's life in Iran and into the lives of the writer's two families - her adoptive mother Maryam and her biological mother, Mohtaram, two sisters. This moving story reveals the plight of women without a voice of their own in family or in public life and the difficulty of living in Iran during the time, for both men and women.

The memoir tells the poignant story of two Iranian
Jan 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I know very little about modern Iranian history (all I had studied before was the Persians and the Greeks – that period of Persian history) so it was a delight to come across this hauntingly beautiful memoir by Nahid Rachlin.

Through Rachlin’s words, I went on a journey through Iran, through Imperial Iran to the Iranian revolution to the modern day period. Rachlin’s family is a messy, complicated structure caught between the old and the new – modern and traditional Islamic values and ideas. They
Jul 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: iran, biography
I was glued to this slice of life in Iran and read it in one day. The simplicity of the prose belies the complexity of the story. The story shows how the male dominated culture strangles not only the women, but itself.

The culture all but assures that there will be no happy marriages and as a result, no happy people. The political changes re-enforce the culture and, as the book progresses, already stiffing lives become more so.

The book shows how the political changes effect everyday life. Books
Dec 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
I love it !!
Informative, deep and heartbreaking ! Nahid gave me a chance to see Iran with persian eyes, to understand what is it like "to grow up" as a woman, in a country where men and the authorities oppressed women's opinions and rights.
She tells her story, from the age of nine, and the relationship she had with her family (specially her sister Pary to whom she dedicated that book) , in wich we can see different "life styles" torn between traditions and modernity.
Fatima Ezzahra Bouriss
Feb 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing
So so Powerful .. like it so much , i believe that I've been blessed enough to visit Iran
a Big respect Nahid Rachlan .. :)
" I am free because I know that I'm alone morally responsible for everything I do. I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I am alone morally responsible for everything I do." --Robert A. Heinlein -
Dec 05, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Particularly in the current political climate, I was hoping that this book would provide a fascinating look into a culture that is, at best, underrepresented in mainstream English language books and, at worst, criticized, discriminated against, and even hated; the fact that the author is a woman made it all the more enticing as I simply can't read enough of how my fellow women live, survive, and thrive in other cultures.

PERSIAN GIRLS delivers on all accounts and has made me want to learn more
Jul 07, 2010 rated it really liked it
This book took me deep into a world I would never know otherwise--the Iran of the Shah, the revolution, and post revolutionary times. Nahid begins her early life with a confusing heritage: the woman who raises her is not her "real" mother, but her aunt, a loving, tender, and sweet woman who adores her. One day without warning, Nahid is essentially kidnapped and taken back to her birth mother and father's house, where she lives with her brothers and sisters, grieving for the loss of the woman she ...more
Jan 19, 2016 rated it really liked it
These days I find myself really attracted to memoirs - it doesn't even have to be a famous person but I just love reading about people's lives whether they are seemingly normal or famous. I found this book to be incredibly readable - I actually couldn't put it down and read it in a day. While the author's writing wasn't necessarily very warm or welcoming, her story is a good one and made me so angry at times that I wanted to toss this book across the room and jump up and down on it. I've always ...more
What a terribly sad story.

Nahid, the author, was wrenched at age nine from the loving care of her adoptive childless aunt into her ambivalent family of origin. Unhappy at this turn of events, Nahid eventually forms a close attachment to her newfound older sister, Pari. Nahid and Pari's paths diverge, though, as Pari is forced by her parents into an unwanted arranged marriage and Nahid manages to convince her reluctant father to send her to university in the States. The course of Pari's life ends
Although subtitled a memoir, Persian Girls is really a tribute to the author's older sister Pari. Both girls want to resist traditional gender roles in pre-revolutionary Iran, but Pari is married off to a suitor her parents chose; Nahid escapes this fate by going to study in America. Pari remains unhappy, and her mysterious death from falling down a flight of stairs sends Nahid back, now to the Islamic Republic of Iran. Although I learned a bit more about growing up during the days of the Shah, ...more
Dede Ward
Mar 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The prose alone is good enough to eat. The author has a lyrical way of writing, a true poet's eye. This will make you want to visit Iran. But the Iran she's writing about no longer exists. This is set at a time when Iran was a much freer country, when little girls could walk themselves to the cinema. However, some things were still very much steeped in tradition, which is where the precipitating event comes from. The author, who has lived as a daughter with her aunt for many years, is suddenly ...more
Feb 01, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: memoirs, favorites
I enjoyed this book on so many levels. I am always interested in the differences in culture, and how religion, culture and politics plays such an amazing role in our world, whether we believe it or not.

Having read The Bookseller of Kabul, this book gives hope to one middle eastern woman who wants nothing more than to come to American and feel free. Not necessarily "free" in the terms that you or I think as "free" but to be herself. She did not feel "in place" at her home in Iran, nor in America.
Apr 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Meg
Shelves: 2011
Very good memoir by Nahid Rachlin. I found this story both interesting and educational. I recently completed a history class section on the Iran/Iraq war and her mention of this time period, as well as before and after, were insightful, and I feel it helped me understand the culture of the Iranian people better.

She had many tough times that she went through both in the U.S. as well as Iran. The isolation she felt living in two very different societies would have overwhelmed many, but her
Sabrina Rutter
May 15, 2009 rated it it was amazing
This was such a beautifully written memoir.
I really wish that her sister Pari had not passed and that she would have got to see her son. When I looked at her picture I felt that she really did have the look of an actress.
I could feel the warmth and comfort of her "mother's" home. She describes everything with so much feeling.
It is a little sad that she didn't teach her own daughter anything about her culture and how to speak Farsi. I understand why she didn't though. I'm sure she would have
Apr 27, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I just started this book earlier this week. It's a memoir that reads like a novel. The detail, conversations, scenes are that good.

The author, Nahid Rachlin, puts the reader so much into each scene - and into the mind of the narrator. It's a beautifully written story. It's a tragic story, yet one about survival as well.

I'm going to miss reading it when I'm done.
Oct 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
So much information in this book, my only reason for 4 stars is I wish it had gone into more depth but it was an amazing insight into life in Persia especially from a females point of view...highly recommend as not a difficult read and well explained I enjoyed every page.
Roni Bat-lavi
Nov 29, 2014 rated it really liked it
Beautiful and haunting story. As of now, not much has changed for the women of Iran, and much of the Islamic world, apparently.
Riham Aymen
Jun 04, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: pdf
Enjoyed details of the story ...
Michelle Olsen
Jun 10, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography-memoir
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Alia Bellwood
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is my second Rachlin book and I enjoyed her attention to realistic detail. It is a memoir and thus a great insight into the life of a writer as she anguishes over family trauma and political upheaval.
Tabitha Blankenbiller
Persian Girls is a traditional, linear memoir tracing the life of Rachlin from early childhood to middle-age. Her story sprawls years and continents, yet remains tight and focused. She chooses her scenes carefully, ensuring she can derive the most scene and character development out of the most compact moments. Her simplicity and precision echo the craft of a poet, which (not surprisingly) is a strong part of her culture and writing background. Rachlin has written in all three genres: fiction, ...more
Dec 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Excellent memoir of a woman born in Persia or Iran, who always had dreams and aspirations to leave the oppressive society and come to America. Her struggles to balance her dreams with her culture, her relatives and friends, her religion and even her foods, with her desire to leave are all described in detail. The author went on to become a professor at Yale University - but how she got there is absolutely fascinating. Growing up as a young girl, Nahid lived an idyllic life with her aunt. She had ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it
Persian Girls is a memoir of a young girl who life was hard since she was born. 1. Her mother give her away. 2. The way of living in Iran was hard at the time 3. Always challenging herself to get where she want it to be getting her to consequences.Approx. at the age of 8th she was taken away from her "mother" by her father to bring her back home, where her brothers and sisters (just by name, because she has never had any interaction with them neither know them, since she was given away to her ...more
Jun 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
This book review first appeared on http://www.bookshelves-infinity.tumbl...

Don’t even bother reading the back cover for Persian Girls, because I can almost certainly promise that it’ll be worth the read. Avoiding the synopsis will also allow you to steer clear of any unwanted spoilers. When I read the book, I unfortunately read the back cover and realized that it partially misrepresents the book by providing information that doesn’t happen until the last fifty pages. Here’s what it’s really
Feb 10, 2012 rated it liked it
I liked this book a lot, but I didn't love it. If I could, I'd give it 3 1/2 stars. I enjoyed the memoir, I enjoyed the author and her stories, I enjoyed her writing style. It was an easy read, and I was never bored at any point in the story. I enjoyed learning about Nahid, the main character, and her relationships with her family (her sister pari, at the center of the book, but also her relationships with Mariam, the aunt who originally raised her, her birth mother, her father, her other ...more
Jul 10, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bio-memoir
This isn't a classic memoir, in the sense that it isn't a reflection on the author's own life as much as it is a reflection on the author's relationship with her favourite sister, and the ways in which their lives ended up diverging so profoundly.

It's a very readable book, and though it covers a lot of the politics within Iran during the time period spanned by the story, it never gets bogged down by historical details. The time period during which the author's story takes place was a time of
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
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Books by Nahid Rachlin:

Nahid Rachlin went to Columbia University Writing Program on a Doubleday-Columbia Fellowship and then went on to Stanford University MFA program on a Stegner Fellowship. Her publications include a memoir, PERSIAN GIRLS (Penguin), four novels, JUMPING OVER FIRE (City Lights), FOREIGNER (W.W. Norton), MARRIED TO A STRANGER
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“أحيانًا أشعر بالتفاؤل ، وفي أحيان أخرى أشعر أنني واقفة خلف باب زجاجي سميك ، أطرق و أطرق ولا أحد يفتح” 38 likes
“غالباً ما أتمنى أن أحطم حياتي إلى أجزاء ثم أجمعها معاً بطريقة مختلفة. العودة إلى الوراء صعبة عندما يكون أمامك عدة خيارات” 20 likes
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