This is a powerful memoir of a girlhood spent during the upheaval of the Iranian Revolution. From early childhood, Nastaran chronicles vivid recollections of her imprisonment at age 18 on trumped-up political charges. During her brutal incarceration in the women's cell block of Adelabad Prison in the city of Shiraz, in southern Iran, she was tortured and made to live in harsh over-crowded conditions. Many of the people imprisoned at Adelabad were innocent victims of tyranny, and this included Nastaran's brother, Mohammed, 24 years old, who was on death row for his political views and his belief in a free and just society. The Ayatollah Khomeini's secret police executed tens of thousands of young university students and schoolchildren in a sweeping attempt to destroy all signs of modernization and to sever all ties with the West. Nastaran's narrative is a compelling glimpse into this nightmare world.Nastaran grew up in Shiraz, a beautiful garden city, under the protection of Bibi, her maternal grandmother. Bibi mesmerized her granddaughter with countless stories, traditional prayers, and simple yet profound wisdom gleaned from a harsh life.
At first it was just Nastaran and Bibi in the house, but when Nastaran turned 6 years old, her mother and brothers came to live with them, turning Bibi's simple home into a microcosm of the clash of cultures that was Iran in the 1970s.Nastaran was torn between the traditional upbringing of a girl her age, and the call of the modern world. She established a special bond with Mohammed, her agate-eyed older brother, who introduced her to the world of ideas, literature, and art. It is the love and nurturing of Bibi and Mohammed that guide Nastaran through her tangled and tumultuous adolescence. This is a dramatic story of struggle and survival, and readers will gain a deeper understanding of a country and its people about which many in the West know very little.