Marriage, arranged by the parents or otherwise, is by itself a gamble. More so, if it’s a cross-cultural marriage.

Imagine someone from a developed world like America having to move unknowingly to Iran (during it’s troubled times in the 1980s) after having lived with her Iranian-born-settled-in-the-US husband. And, that with a four year old daughter in tow. Sounds like a nightmare? It definitely is.

This is a book that has been a bestseller and been around for a long time, now. Also, I hear it has been made into a movie. Given the hype around it, I kept avoiding reading it for some time. Also, the plot was too intimidating for me to get the book. Ultimately, I succumbed ‘cos it was about a mother and her daughter. And, I have to admit the book kept me hooked throughout.

From the moment, Betty and Mahtob (her daughter) enter into a country like Iran which is completely in contrast with a country developed like the US, the book is realistic. I can understand every predicament of a liberated woman in Betty to watching women who are mere chattels in a country that is despised with Westerners. Her dilemma in choosing the right path for her daughter is apparent in every word. The way she dilly-dallies in using the most difficult and scary route to go back to the US gives us a glimpse of the mother that she is. The tension in the end is palpable and I could feel my heart racing and rooting for Betty’s success.

Every moment of reading the book, there is a voice in your head that keeps reminding you that this is a true story which makes you feel blessed for the nicer life you’ve been bestowed with.

There are a lot of criticisms leveled against the book of being racist and the story fabricated. But, I believe that an outsider’s view of the system is bang on in the book. If we wish to term it racism, we can. But to me, it is more real.

So yes.. a big thumbs up for this book. A dark, racy, riveting read that will appeal more to the motherly instinct in you.