"Once again we were faced with situations that were out of our control and unpredictable."

For ages, humanity has repeatedly found original ways of exhibiting divisive behaviors among itself. The most ancient of these methods, undoubtedly, is faith. Thompson’s memoir speaks for the millions that have and continue to endure persecution and find themselves encountering barriers to living a life of abundance and opportunity. Many readers will experience a hint of recognition throughout Thompson’s journey, while those foreign to such will be startled at this in-depth glimpse into the life of an Iranian woman whose resolute nature prevented her from becoming another statistic.

Specifically for Thompson, her earliest encounters with persecution stem from an upbringing following the Baha’i faith, which focuses primarily on gender equality and progressive thought. In the midst of a childhood the author describes as playful, there are numerous events that are simply jarring. As an eight-year-old in Quran class, Thompson’s Baha’i beliefs prompt her teacher to encourage students—many of whom are Thompson’s friends outside of the classroom—to throw stones at her. This sequence is seared into the mind; when kids are subjected to such thinking, it leads to a harsh reality of perpetuated division and persecution in adulthood. From the memoir, it becomes clear that the only way to escape an environment so stringent that it does not deem education and work fit for women is to leave it entirely.

Being a female Baha’i almost spells certain disaster for an ambitious woman like Thompson. Her dreams of attending the University of Tehran in shambles, Thompson’s role as a clerk typist in Iran’s agricultural department opens up doors to a future in the United States. Yet, she is just in round one of the challenges awaiting her in the land of opportunity. Independent to her core, the author refuses to let anyone keep her from growing, even when that person is her own mother.

Throughout the book, this desire to succeed is buoyed by the persistent theme of dreams unlocking solutions to Thompson’s problems, a testament to her conviction. Combining a direct writing style with candid storytelling, Thompson is able to succinctly capture what immigrant life in the United States entails. One of the more refreshing scenes the story recalls is a Thanksgiving party where the author’s hunger clashes with the concept of tarouf, where one must politely decline any offerings of food and treats for the first couple times. In the same vein, Thompson’s naive eagerness in her college class to understand the function of reproductive organs is delivered with such authenticity that readers will likely be wearing smiles on their faces following this scene.

From romantic poetry and awkward first dates with lost driver's licenses to a blossoming family, this memoir comprehensively covers the phases of the author’s life. Seeing Thompson’s life roles change from an aspiring professional in the laboratory to a mother who could not be prouder of her child for independently making the decision to enlist in the army is unique. Thompson’s storytelling arc is commendable; imbuing a narrative with so much information and avoiding clunky writing is rarely done as seamlessly as in this piece. A must-read, particularly for immigrant populations who will surely form an instant connection, the gamut of emotions is on full display as readers traverse the journey of Thompson’s fearless and purposeful life decisions.

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