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It Ain't So Awful, Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas

Filled with humour, charm and genuine cultural references.
It Ain't So Awful Falafel is a lens into the immigrant experience. 

When we meet Cindy a.k.a Zomorod at the beginning of the book, she is struggling with culture shock as she acclimatizes and adapts to life in the U.S. Zomorod was born in Abadan, Iran, and now eleven, is on her way with her family to Newport Beach from Compton, California. She has moved four times in her life. Who does that? 

She also tells new people she meets that her name is Cindy (it's just easier that way). Like any other kid of immigrant parents, she struggles to understand why her parents are so different from the Joneses and Smiths. She's embarrassed of their accents and her mother's lack of English. When she meets strangers she thinks her dad will start talking about the oil industry and her mom will probably say something that makes no sense. She's really like any other preteen except for the added cultural barriers. 

She may have changed her name but her life is still the same. She doesn't know the words to 'Love Will Keep Us Together' - one of the coolest songs ever. 

Then, she finds a friend who is genuinely interested in what she has to say and not obsessed with horses. (Apparently everyone thinks people in Iran ride around in horses all day). Cindy is elated with her new companion. She can't believe that Carolyn is interested in hearing more about Iran and her friend's enthusiasm encourages her to talk more about her life and experiences. 

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel is the perfect balance of a young readers book that has both charm and substance. Firoozah Dumas does a great job of discussing politics and making it understandable and relatable. Kids are sponges after all and not sheltered from what's going on in the world and the news. It's actually great to see them engaged and talking about it. 

To put it all in context, it is the late 1970s, and Iran makes U.S. headlines with protests, revolution, and eventually the taking of American hostages. Anti-Iranian sentiments start to creep too close to home. 

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel is refreshing, different and will connect with any young readers trying to adapt to new situations and people. And the title, oozes with inspiration and positivity.

Ages 10-12.

It Ain't So Awful, Falafel is published by Clarion Books and distributed in Canada by Raincoast Books. 

Blog post by @ShilpaRaikar (Creative and Social Media strategist, decor enthusiast and book lover, who also writes for a branding blog:, as well as a lifestyle blog: T: @SukasaStyle) 

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