The Good Daughter eBook –

We Were A World Of Two, My Mother And I, Until I Started Turning Into An American Girl That S When She Began Telling Me About The Good Daughter It Became A Taunt, A Warning, An OmenJasmin Darznik Came To America From Iran When She Was Only Three Years Old, And She Grew Up Knowing Very Little About Her Family S History When She Was In Her Early Twenties, On A Day Shortly Following Her Father S Death, Jasmin Was Helping Her Mother Move A Photograph Fell From A Stack Of Old Letters The Girl Pictured Was Her Mother She Was Wearing A Wedding Veil, And At Her Side Stood A Man Whom Jasmin Had Never Seen BeforeAt First, Jasmin S Mother, Lili, Refused To Speak About The Photograph, And Jasmin Returned To Her Own Home Frustrated And Confused But A Few Months Later, She Received From Her Mother The First Of Ten Cassette Tapes That Would Bring To Light The Wrenching Hidden Story Of Her Family S True Origins In Iran Lili S Marriage At Thirteen, Her Troubled History Of Abuse And Neglect, And A Daughter She Was Forced To Abandon In Order To Escape That Life The Final Tape Revealed That Jasmin S Sister, Sara The Good Daughter Was Still Living In IranIn This Sweeping, Poignant, And Beautifully Written Memoir, Jasmin Weaves The Stories Of Three Generations Of Iranian Women Into A Unique Tale Of One Family S Struggle For Freedom And Understanding The Result Is An Enchanting And Unforgettable Story Of Secrets, Betrayal, And The Unbreakable Mother Daughter Bond

10 thoughts on “The Good Daughter

  1. says:

    Disclaimer I received a free copy of this book from the publisher via the Goodreads First Reads program Awesome I did not know a lot about the recent history of Iran prior to reading this book, aside from having watched the movie Persepolis It was a little hard to wrap my mind around all of the things that happen to the author s mother, which seem so medieval these were recent events, relatively speaking The author s mother is the same age as my mother Who had a very different life The writing is a little simplistic it s an easy read in that sense But the story is very powerful, and carries the writing The author s mother, Lili, had a fascinating life she accomplished so much, with the odds stacked against her child bride, continued her education in spite of family social pressure to stop, divorced, moved to another country without knowing the language, got a medical degree, remarried, practiced as an OB neonatologist, opened a clinic for poor women, supported her extended family, moved to yet another country, owned her own small business, etc Very inspiring stuff HOWEVER.I was buzzing along, reading this, with a 4 star review in mind okay writing, great story Not the best book I ve read this year, but nothing really wrong with it, either And then I got to the end The first 90% of the book takes place based on recollections that the author s mother recorded onto cassette tapes and mailed to her We conjecture it is not specified whether or not the author conducted interviews with other family members or acquaintances The last 10% or so is based on the author s own recollections of her childhood and her young adult life The big hook, for this story, which is given away in the title and the inside flap, is that the American author has a sister living in Iran that she never knew about until her mother divulged her first marriage child late in life Through the whole book, the reader is waiting for this revelation to occur in real time the story starts out in the recent past, with the author receiving the tapes, and then covers the family history from the author s grandmother until present day When we reach the point at which the author now knows she has a sister, what does she do Does she get on a plane and meet her sister in person, along with the nieces nephews she now knows about Does she bring her mother to Iran with her for a family reunion Does she have her sister come to the USA to meet her Is the author so fascinated by her mother s story, that she now needs to go to Iran and see for herself the places and people that were revealed to her in the cassette tapes NO.The author never met her sister in person, because traveling to Iran to do so would only be intruding on the life she had made for herself IT WAS LESS INTRUSIVE TO WRITE AN ENTIRE BOOK ABOUT THIS INSTEAD Alright, putting that aside, what does the author s mother think of the book that her daughter is writing She kept her secret so well hidden for so many years, what are her thoughts about her daughter publishing this memoir and revealing all this to the world Does she agree with this, or disagree, were the cassette tapes meant to be private What happens after the author finishes listening to the tapes Do mother daughter become closer as a result Clearly, the author now has a deeper understanding of her mother and her life, how does this change their relationship What is her mother s life like now We will never know, because the author NEVER TALKS TO HER MOTHER ABOUT IT Or at least, not that she reveals in this memoir.I wish this author s editor at Hatchette had read a draft of this, and said, Great story Here are some plane tickets to Iran, go meet your sister and make this book several chapters longer And talk to your mom If you decide not to do these things, you have to give a valid reason why, other than I DIDN T FEEL LIKE IT And that s why this only has 3 stars from me.

  2. says:

    A simple look at the book cover of The Good Daughter reveals that, unlike most of the other books in this genre, these memories don t belong to the author but to her mother s This distance between the writer and the protagonist adds an element of fiction to the narration, which makes the book closer to a fictionalized memoir than a classic memoir which is only about the author s own memories, or at least this was my expectation.Now that I ve finished the book, I should congratulate Jasmin for her lovely way of praising her mother s life Extremely well researched and written in an impeccable prose, this book shows Jasmin s extra attention to details and descriptions, which in each scene it gives readers clear images of what they are looking at.The Good Daughter is a fun and fast read about the Iranian women s misery during most part of the 20th century Did you notice something paradoxical in the preceding sentence If you did, then you have got the core of my critic of the book But before talking about its problems, let s first take a look at its strengths.Darznik s starts her narrative in a spectacular way shortly after her father s passing, Jasmin, who is in her twenties, discovers an old picture of her mother as a young bride, but the groom sitting next to her mother is a total stranger This is the main incident which set the story in motion and drives the author to find out about her mother s past In spite of her mother s initial refusal, Jasmin receives a first series of tapes in which her mother has revealed her secrets.After this brilliant opening scene, the next chapters will cover the history of this family throughout several decades.First, we flashback to the beginning of the 20th century and meet Kobra and Sohrab, the author s grandparents Next, Lili, Jasmin s mother, becomes the story s main character she goes through a marriage at 13, a miscarriage, childbirth, physical abuse, and divorce while still being a teenager She also has to give up on her rights as a mother and to leave her daughter, Sara, to her ex husband, Kazem In the later chapters, we learn about Lili s trip abroad to study, her second marriage to Johann, coming back to Iran for a few years before leaving it as the revolution starts leaving Sara behind and finally getting settled in the Bay Area, USA From this point on, we read the author s own memories from that same period, which I found the best written scenes of the book I hope Jasmin would write a follow up to this memoir, perhaps a second book about her mother s efforts to find Sara and their reunion.One of the main lessons I learned by reading this story was that no matter how hard the Pahlavis tried to bring about change, they were destined to fail The society s deep Islamic roots had made it impossible for their efforts to transform the archaic mind of the average Iranian man Sohrab and Kazem might appear westernized and progressive, but their actions show that they re no different from the fanatic Iranian men who look at women as object and would consider the polygamy as his god given right.As I said, I enjoyed most of the opening chapter and the last few chapters, told in a close first person, written beautifully, but I had a few problems while reading the chapters in between My first critic of the book is its editing there are too many anecdotes and unimportant characters, which could have been cut off from the final draft I understand that the author is trying to remain truthful to her mother by preserving every little memory from those tapes, but in many of these stories not only they do not play an important role in the main narrative, but also they are predictable, so they left a feeling of d j vu in my mind At some point, I wondered whether this feeling had to do with my own familiarity with similar tales, as I have also been aware of my own mother and grandmother s struggle to have a voice or maybe I had read them in another Iranian memoir It is true that Lili s dark past is shared by so many, and I understand that sometimes the same story should be told and retold, but as a simple reader, I hoped to be surprised, shocked and stabbed, as Kafka says, while reading this familiar story as if I was reading it for the first time.My other critic is lack of attitude in Lili s character The story is told in a distant voice, without over dramatization, which reduces the efficiency of the narration There is a large amount of attention given to describing cultural elements, such as food, clothes, rituals and routines, but the same attention has not been given to show Lili s state of mind, thoughts, or feelings Lili is portrayed as a character that does not react the normal way, as we expect, as if she has been numbed by the chain of miseries in her life Or, as if the average Iranian woman of that period was mostly fatalist who considered these unjust treatments as their destiny Even though I can see that through her actions Lili is struggling to change her life, but this obvious lack of emotion was too disturbing I would have loved to know about Lili s deep feelings and pain Sometimes Lili acted almost like a dead fish, while being abused, and it was hard to understand why As the first chapter and the last ones were enough proof that Jasmin Darznik knows how to depict her characters emotions, knows how to grab her reader, and how to move them, so I could only conclude that she should have made a conscious choice of showing Lili as a numb character This lack of attitude could be part of the author s effort to stay objective regarding the miserable situation of women in Iran, but I think that the story could have had a stronger impact on the reader if Lili hadn t hidden her pain This book is an elegant and memorable way that the author has chosen to show her love and devotion to her mother, and also for her country of birth It is clear that Jasmin Darznik has conducted an impressive amount of research to create a believable image of Iran during the past century, and she is very successful in the depiction of an Iran that many don t know This book, I am sure, will be a great success, especially among the non Iranians, as it creates a believable universe, and as an Iranian reader I feel this urge to clean up my own acts and to think thoroughly about what I call our nationalistic nostalgia and to distinguish the good from the bad, the shameful traditions from the genuine gestures of kindness Even though the Good Daughter was the surname of Sara, Lili s abandoned child, but I personally think that Jasmin is the real Good daughter.

  3. says:

    We were a world of two, my mother and I, until I started turning into an American girl That s when she began telling me about The Good Daughter It became a taunt, a warning, an omen.Jasmin Darznik came to America from Iran when she was only three years old, and she grew up knowing very little about her family s history When she was in her early twenties, on a day shortly following her father s death, Jasmin was helping her mother move a photograph fell from a stack of old letters The girl pictured was her mother She was wearing a wedding veil, and at her side stood a man whom Jasmin had never seen before.At first, Jasmin s mother, Lili, refused to speak about the photograph, and Jasmin returned to her own home frustrated and confused But a few months later, she received from her mother the first of ten cassette tapes that would bring to light the wrenching hidden story of her family s true origins in Iran Lili s marriage at thirteen, her troubled history of abuse and neglect, and a daughter she was forced to abandon in order to escape that life The final tape revealed that Jasmin s sister, Sara The Good Daughter was still living in Iran.In this sweeping, poignant, and beautifully written memoir, Jasmin weaves the stories of three generations of Iranian women into a unique tale of one family s struggle for freedom and understanding The result is an enchanting and unforgettable story of secrets, betrayal, and the unbreakable mother daughter bond.My Take The trouble with memoirs is the author often forgets the audience and pontificates on the unimportant details like how sad an event felt or a disappointment with a person, etc The author is a very articulate writer whose skill drew me into her grandmother s then mother s world without getting hung up on the injustices which there are many She does include detail that can be skipped like foods served at gatherings and such yet even these descriptions added to the experience What I found most compelling about this book, besides the objective way the author paints the pictures of her family, is that it covers many decades and generations Not only does this give a clear picture of the personalities but provides a political and historical framework For instance, the author s grandmother was the 9th child in her family and had different expectations than the other children Her mother was born shortly after Iran and Great Britain were in a conflict The Shah was put into power at that time The Revolution occurred in 1979 when the author was only 3 years old and immigrated to the United States with her parents When watching the news at that time, the text at the bottom of the screen would read, DAY 89 or whatever day it was in the hostage crisis I remember the text and the tension.In particular, I enjoyed the strength of the women portrayed in this book From a society where they had no power, they did the best they could given their circumstances The patriarchal society was not kind to women or girls They suffered horrible injustices On the other hand, when The Shah was in power, there were societal changes that empowered women The reader enjoys the transformation of the author s mother, Lilli, and of her grandmother Her mother, married at 13, pregnant shortly thereafter, suffered as no child or person should have to endure 12 years later she stormed back into town as an educated, beautiful, confident woman engaged to a European A few years later found her in California enduring discrimination yet possessing determination regardless of her weariness Even as she gave up her veils she was still an Iranian woman Even though this is Jasmin s story, she adopts the idea that her story is the culmination of the women before her She understands that when her mother talks about The Good Daughter she really is talking about the daughter she left in Iran The one who has a completely different story.

  4. says:

    Exceptionally well written Gives a small glimpse into life in Iran and really most of the Middle East in the 40 s, 50 s and 60 s I believe that a careful reading will give Western minds much insight into the culture of that region While life for women is different today, the cultural s in place then continue to inform the culture today I have two complaints with this book however One, there are no pictures They would have done much to enhance the story Two, the ending seemed abrupt Jasmin made no attempt to meet her half sister and there is no mention of any conversations Jasmin and her mother, Lili, had following the receipt of the tapes This is Lili s story, but yet it s also Jasmin s and Sarah s Yet, we have no idea how Jasmin reacted to her mothers early life We have no idea what their convesations were Even if it wasn t positive it would have been nice to have seen the mother daughter connection at the end.

  5. says:

    The Good Daughter has everything I love in a book It s an intimate look into another culture, a woman s relationship with her mother, and her journey towards understanding and truth It s an honest and beautifully told memoir of a modern American woman who is seeking to understand and appreciate her deep, deep roots In writing The Good Daughter, Jasmin Darznik has succeeded eloquently on all accounts This story is so rich and layered, it s almost hard to believe that it s a memoir and not a novel It seems like the creation of someone s dreams, only the charaters are too deep and too real to be fiction The women in these pages are so strong, but they are vulnerable too They feel deeply and love passionately, and endure so many things They are heartbreakingly intelligent at a time when education for women was so hard to come by Lili s life is so full of richness and poorness, fortune and misfortune, love, luck, and misunderstanding How can one life hold this much diversity It is a life that was waiting to be told, and Jasmin Darznik has done so beautifully This book takes the reader through the facsinating recent history of Iran, from the time before the installation of the pro western Shah, through Ayatollah Khomeini s revolution and to the present day Can you imagine being a woman and living a life in which you are brought up to see women veiled, then told to remove the veil and to embrace a western Iran, and then finally to be again under a veil and told to reject those things So much dramatic change in one lifetime I have been fascinated by this for some time, and this book has really allowed me to see that world intimately I would also recommend Rick Steve s Iran, a one hour documentary on the country of Iran I found this documentary to be very un biased and mostly non political The intention was to meet the people of modern day Iran and show their lives, clear up the many, many misunderstandings and misconceptions that Americans have when facing Iranians and their country, and to show the beauty of the country itself As our world becomes smaller and smaller, I believe it to be our responsiblity to educate ourselves and seek to understand the people of Iran As I do this, I am greeted by a warm and loving community that holds many of my same values near and dear to their hearts I enjoyed this book so much I felt like I was in Tehran when I would read it at night, and during the day I was waiting to get back there I loved it I hope this author is busy at work on her next project Her prose is beautiful and she s a natural story teller It s a truely beautiful story.

  6. says:

    I wish I d liked this one It was interesting to learn about the lives of women in Iran over the past 50 years, but I didn t love the author s style and ultimately wondered how she could remain so detached from the story herself, given that it was her own parents and grandparents she was writing about The story is terribly sad, as Darznik recounts her grandmother and mother s lives of poverty, abuse, oppression, vulnerability and sacrifice As an American woman in all of my modern, immodest ways I couldn t help but feel both astonished that woman still live this way in other parts of the world completely dependent on men who treat them like servants, prostitutes, or just plain dirt but also grateful that my own culture has moved past such beliefs and practices, in comparison.As a biography it would have been much engaging to have input from Darznik and could not understand how she related this entire, gut wrenching story without including some serious reflection on her national and familial roots Is she just too young Shallow I don t understand This could have been written by a complete stranger in the exact same manner as it was written by the main character s own daughter I left it being so dissatisfied with the author s lack of heart, faith, loyalty and revelation.

  7. says:

    The author grew up in California, the only daughter of an Irani mother and a German father, and as she grew up American rather than Irani, her mother would compare her with the Good Daughter back in Iran, who was a girl devoted to her mother and who would never dream of dating or wearing short skirts or rebelling against her mother s authority The author grew up and moved to New York in her middle twenties her father died, and when she and her mother were sorting through boxes, the author found a wedding photo of her mother, aged about fourteen, with a man who was not the author s father From this beginning comes a riveting tale of the lives of the author s mother and grandmothers in Iran, in a book that I very much enjoyed reading.Once the author confronts her mother Lili with the photo, the mother refuses to speak of it but then, with the author back in New York, the mother begins sending her cassette tapes ten in all , telling of her life in Tehran and of the lives of her own mother, her grandmother, and of the Good Daughter , the half sister that the author never even knew she had The tapes tell of an Iran in which veiled women live at home rarely getting an education of any kind before a husband is selected for any given woman by her family, following the confirmation of the bride s virginity Women have no real existence outside of the lives of their husbands or sons A husband s authority over his wife or wives is absolute and divorce is unheard of, as a divorced woman is considered to be damaged goods and unmarriageable.As we learn of the lives of Lili s grandmothers, of her mother and father, and of her own life, kept hidden from her American daughter, we see an Iran that is gradually becoming Western under the influence of the Shahs of the House of Pavlavi, Rez Sh h ruled 1925 1941 and his son Mohammad Rez Sh h ruled 1941 1979 The book reads like a novel, as the author herself does not arrive in the story until relatively near the end of the book But the author realizes that each of the women in her family history worked with what they had to make their lives better and to try to improve the lives of their daughters, in the best way they could manage.It is observed midway through the book that foreigners either see Iran as the cradle of civilization and culture or as a Medieval backwater after reading this book, one realizes that the truth of Iran before the 1979 Revolution lies, as usual, somewhere in between the two extremes And I very much enjoyed reading this book, and I will thank the member of my Third Tuesday Book Club who lent the book to me when I see her at this month s Book Club Meeting and return the book to her.

  8. says:

    If you are not familiar with the recent history of Iran prior to reading this book you may find it a bit difficult to wrap my mind around all of the things that happened to the author s mother This is an easy read in how it was written but it was very difficult to read having grown up how I did in the United States being extremely fortunate to have not had to deal with such things This story is VERY powerful and truly transforms the simplicity of the writing The author s mother, Lili, lead a fascinating life accomplishing so much when all the odds were stacked against her Her story is truly inspiring However, 90% of the book is based on recollections that the author s mother recorded onto cassette tapes and mailed to her Then, the last 10% is based on the author s own memories of her childhood and early adult life The real problem with this book comes about towards the end In reading the inside flap you learn that the author, who is American, has a sister she never knew about living in Iran She only learns of her existance when her mother divulges the history of her first marriage and the child of that marriage Through the entire story you are waiting with baited breath a revelation to occur The story begins in the recent past when the author receives the tapes As she covers the family history beginning with her grandmother until present day you reach the point where she learns she has a sister What does she do The unexpected She does NOT get on a plane to meet her She does NOT she bring her mother to Iran for a family reunion She does NOT bring her newly found sister to the USA for a reunion either Instead she writes an entire book about the whole history because she feels it would be less intrusive WHAT She actually says in her book that going to Ira to meet her newly found half sister or to attempt a reunion between her sister and her mother or to want to try to develop a relationship of any kind between them and her recently discovered nieces and nephews would be only be intruding on the life she had made for herself How is basically writing a TELL ALL book less intrusive So frustrating This book which started off really brilliantly left me just shaking my head wondering what on earth the author and the editors were thinking.

  9. says:

    I was reluctant about this memoir but it grew on me It is about Lili Jasmin s mother whose early life in Iran she erased when she moved to America oh the shame of having been married before with a baby who she left behind Hard for us westerners to credit but real to her community As Lili ages, she makes tapes about her early life for Lili to listen to and the book is the result The style of writing was OK but rather pedestrian I knew something about the Reza Pahlavi era in Iran, but not about life in the home and the streets so I definitely learned something But this woman s life seemed not ho hum, but probably not so very different from other Iranian women who moved to America as 20 somethings.

  10. says:

    Beautifully written and, reading this back to back with