Elinor's Reviews > Lipstick Jihad: A Memoir of Growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran

Lipstick Jihad by Azadeh Moaveni
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's review
Feb 06, 2011

it was ok
bookshelves: memoirs
Read in February, 2011

I really struggled with what to rate this book between not liking it and thinking it was OK. The thing is, Moaveni made me realize some things I should have realized a while ago, and that was good, but she did it by way of making me despise her.

OK, so I have had a bit of a thing for Iran (books about Iran, films from Iran...) for quite some time. This means that I have read a number of memoirs by women from Iran (Reading Lolita..., of course), and women who grew up in the diaspora, like Moaveni, and those sort of in between (such as the work of Marjane Satrapi). What I didn't really think about in an overall way until this book, was that it is not just any Iranian woman who gets to write books. These women are all educated, mostly in Western schools, which means their family's had/have money. Yet somehow, it wasn't until Lipstick Jihad that I realized how that was affecting my view of the country and the people. I think it popped out at me because Moaveni writes with a mixture of disdain and ignorance of the poor people in Iran (or who's family's were poor before the revolution). The way she speaks of everyone's maids (and the way she treats her family's maids) sound shocking to me. Also, and this could just have been a space/editing choice since she seems to have travels the region for her work with Time, she speaks as though all of Iran exists within Tehran. As someone who just moved between a medium sized city in America to a college town in America, I'm pretty sure that Tehran does not represent the full spectrum of behavior, let alone ideas in Iran.

OK, I'm rambling, but this book really made me mad, and I'm trying to get a better handle on why. I didn't think the writing was very good in a structural kind of way, either, which perhaps comes from a journalist trying to "write from the heart"? I stuck with it though, partially hoping she would redeem herself at some point, which she does in a way toward the end...

So, I don't think this review is very helpful, but maybe if you decide to pick up the book it will give you something to think about while reading?
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