When Zomorod's parents move from Iran to California, she renames herself Cindy (like The Brady Bunch) and does her best to fit in. But it's 1979, and a group of Iranians has seized the US embassy. Zomorod has to figure out middle school and mood rings while dealing with neighbors who suddenly see her as an enemy.
— From It Ain't So Awful, Falafel
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 the taking of American hostages. Even puka shell necklaces, pool parties, and flying fish can't distract Cindy from the anti-Iran sentiments that creep way too close to home. A poignant yet lighthearted middle grade debut from the author of the best-selling Funny in Farsi.
California Library Association’s John and Patricia Beatty Award Winner
Florida Sunshine State Young Readers Award (Grades 6–8)
New York Historical Society’s New Americans Book Prize Winner
Middle East Book Award for Youth Literature, Honorable Mention
Booklist 50 Best Middle Grade Novels of the 21stCentury
About the Author
New York Times bestselling author 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. She lives in Munich, Germany, with her husband and three children.
"Insightful, sobering, and hilarious."
"Filled with humorous touches and authentic cultural references, Dumas’s story will resonate not just with young immigrants but with any readers trying to adapt to new situations."
* "Dumas’ semi-autobiographical novel is both funny and affecting...Readers will be thoroughly invested in Cindy’s story, whether holding their breath or laughing out loud, and always hoping that the Yousefzadehs will come out on top."
—Booklist, STARRED review
* "[A] fresh take on the immigrant experience—authentic, funny, and moving from beginning to end."
—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED review
"[It Ain't So Awful, Falafel] is funny, affecting, and nuanced...The novel doesn’t sugarcoat the issues, but it balances these serious notes with preteen antics and melodramas that Blume would be proud of; Cindy’s voice will undoubtedly draw in readers from all backgrounds."
"...keeps readers engaged with the very real and relatable difficulties of finding friends after moving, dealing with family issues both domestic and abroad, and discovering one’s own identity in middle school."
—School Library Journal
“Firoozeh Dumas’s unique gift is her ability to use her wry, bold, but always gentle wit to tell serious stories about family, heritage, and loss. . . . In this era of suspicion and paranoia, [this book] offers a tender and compassionate glimpse into the immigrant experience.” —Khaled Hosseini, bestselling author of The Kite Runner
"This book is a sheer delight—rambunctious and rich. . . . Firoozeh Dumas writes with the perfect light touch that makes us wonder once again: Who is running the big world and why not this person, please?" —Naomi Shihab Nye, novelist and poet
"[A]n honest, witty, and moving portrayal of what it means to be an Iranian immigrant in the late 1970s, during the Iran hostage crisis."—Scholastic Teacher Magazine