I'm somewhat on the fence about this book. I liked it. I found it very enlightening about the situation girls faced in Iran in the 80s, that period after the Shah and the revolution, before Desert Storm. Girls are permitted to go to school but so much is yet forbidden: music, movies, etc, and they must only wear certain clothes. We meet a headstrong young teenager in a household of secrets and she has one of her own. She likes other girls, or at least thinks she does. I'll get to that.
I really liked her character and especially her friend's. They long to be independent, free to make their own choices, and even though they both have crappy home lives, they make the most of their situations and find joy in their lives--with each other. Farrin certainly doesn't get much love at home.
"Now I know she looks like a bit of a monkey, with that dark skin of hers. That's what I get for marrying into a family of desert-dwellers. But look beyond that ugliness, if you can..."
Her mother says that. To hear that from one's own mother and yet face each day with optimism and strive to get good grades and all...that's amazing. This is not a weak girl.
But at the same time, while I admired her pluck, I also thought her a bit stupid. What her and her friend do, how they get caught, I was sitting there going, "How could you smart girls--girls at the very top of your school--be so very dumb? You just saw a man hanged not long ago and now you do this, here, with the situation being what it is in your country? You couldn't wait?" And then they rebel as much as they can with their protesting and shouting and frankly, it doesn't help their situations. They went from being brave and spunky to TSTL. On the other hand, would I have acted any different? Haven't we all been wrapped up in the feeling of the moment?
This is based on a true story and if that's how it went down...then that's how it went down. The ending--sad and yet realistic--as cruel as this will sound, got the story back on track. It's not how I WANTED it to end, but after the unrealistic behavior of the girls that I found hard to fathom, I was expecting a cheesy, unrealistic HEA and was surprised. This is followed by a lovely author's note that is truly educational. I had no idea that 4,000 gay or lesbian Iranians have been executed since 1979.
I also felt while I was reading that the girls were not really lesbians. I felt like they were just very good friends, wonderful friends, that loved each other, and perhaps were confused due to lack of experience otherwise. I did not feel the chemistry, basically. However, this is a YA novel, so this is understandable.
But this is a strong read, well written and thought evoking.
I received this via Netgalley.