Review by Booklist Review
Pasha Shahed is a typical teenage boy who likes hanging out with his friends on the rooftop terrace of his house, dreaming about life, love, and what the future holds. What makes this 17-year-old different is that he is living under the harsh reign of the shah in Iran during the summer of 1973. With his biggest worry being his feelings for Zari, the girl next door who has been promised to another since birth, Pasha has a rude awakening when the SAVAK, Iran's secret police, hunt down and murder Zari's fiancé. When Pasha realizes that he is the one who unwittingly gave away the man's whereabouts to the SAVAK, he is crushed with guilt over his rival's death and his continued feelings for Zari. No longer ignorant of the brutality of the shah's regime, Zari makes a public display of her protest, which devastates Pasha. Told in Pasha's unique voice and partially in flashback, Seraji's wonderful coming-of-age story is at times funny and sweet as well as thought-provoking and heart-wrenching.--Kubisz, Carolyn Copyright 2009 Booklist
From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Publisher's Weekly Review
Set in 1970s Iran during the shah's regime, this earnest, semiautobiographical debut novel is told from the perspective of bookish 17-year-old Pasha Shahed, who, along with his best friend Ahmed, plays soccer, goofs off and thinks about girls. But Pasha pines for one girl in particular-his neighbor Zari, betrothed since birth to Pasha's mentor, the neighborhood radical, Ramin Sobhi, whom everyone calls Doctor. Over a summer Ahmed orchestrates daily meetups with his own beloved, Faheemeh, and includes Pasha and Zari. Despite knowing he shouldn't, Pasha falls in love with Zari. The idyllic summer comes to an end when Doctor is abducted and killed by SAVAK, the not-so-secret police. The effects of Doctor's death on Pasha and Zari are traumatic and lead each to acts of transgression with tragic results. The prose has the simplicity of a nonnative English speaker, which could be seen as cliched ("treasure of love," "dark winter of my life") or charmingly romantic. Seraji captures the thoughts and emotions of a young boy and creates a moving portrait of the history and customs of the Persians and life in Iran during this period. (May) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review
A star-crossed romance captures the turmoil of pre-revolutionary Iran in Seraji's debut. From the rooftops of Tehran in 1973, life looks pretty good to 17-year-old Pasha Shahed and his friend Ahmed. They're bright, funny and good-looking; they're going to graduate from high school in a year; and they're in love with a couple of the neighborhood girls. But all is not idyllic. At first the girls scarcely know the boys are alive, and one of them, Zari, is engaged to Doctornot actually a doctor but an exceptionally gifted and politically committed young Iranian. In this neighborhood, the Shah is a subject of contempt rather than veneration, and residents fear SAVAK, the state's secret police force, which operates without any restraint. Pasha, the novel's narrator and prime dreamer, focuses on two key periods in his life: the summer and fall of 1973, when his life is going rather well, and the winter of 1974, when he's incarcerated in a grim psychiatric hospital. Among the traumatic events he relates are the sudden arrest, imprisonment and presumed execution of Doctor. Pasha feels terrible because he fears he might have inadvertently been responsible for SAVAK having located Doctor's hiding place; he also feels guilty because he's always been in love with Zari. She makes a dramatic political statement, setting herself on fire and sending Pasha into emotional turmoil. He is both devastated and further worried when the irrepressible Ahmed also seems to come under suspicion for political activity. Pasha turns bitterly against religion, raising the question of God's existence in a world in which the bad guys seem so obviously in the ascendant. Yet the badly scarred Zari assures him, "Things will changethey always do." Refreshingly filled with love rather than sex, this coming-of-age novel examines the human cost of political repression. Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.