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Concealed
Cover of Concealed
Concealed
Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America
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Esther Amini grew up in Queens, New York, during the free-wheeling 1960s. She also grew up in a Persian-Jewish household, the American- born daughter of parents who had fled Mashhad, Iran. In CONCEALED she tells the story of being caught between these two worlds: the dutiful daughter of tradition-bound parents who hungers for more self-determination than tradition allows.
Exploring the roots of her father's deep silences and explosive temper, her mother's flamboyance and flights from home, and her own sense of indebtedness to her two Iranian-born brothers, Amini uncovers the story of her parents' early years in Mashhad, Iran's holiest Muslim city; the little known history and persecution of Mashhad's underground Jews; the incident that steeled her mother's resolve to leave; and her parents' arduous journey to the United States, where they found themselves facing a new threat to their traditions: the threat of freedom. Determined to protect his only daughter from corruption, Amini's father prohibits talk, books, higher education, and tries to push her into an early Persian marriage. Can she resist? Should she? Focused intently on what she stands to gain, Amini eventually comes to see what she also stands to lose: a family and community bound together by food, celebrations, sibling escapades, and unexpected acts of devotion by parents to whom she feels invisible. In this poignant, funny, entertaining and uplifting memoir, Amini documents with keen eye, quick wit, and warm heart, how family members build, buoy, wound, and save one another across generations; how lives are shaped by the demands and burdens of loyalty and legacy; and how she rose to the challenge of deciding what to keep and what to discard.
Esther Amini grew up in Queens, New York, during the free-wheeling 1960s. She also grew up in a Persian-Jewish household, the American- born daughter of parents who had fled Mashhad, Iran. In CONCEALED she tells the story of being caught between these two worlds: the dutiful daughter of tradition-bound parents who hungers for more self-determination than tradition allows.
Exploring the roots of her father's deep silences and explosive temper, her mother's flamboyance and flights from home, and her own sense of indebtedness to her two Iranian-born brothers, Amini uncovers the story of her parents' early years in Mashhad, Iran's holiest Muslim city; the little known history and persecution of Mashhad's underground Jews; the incident that steeled her mother's resolve to leave; and her parents' arduous journey to the United States, where they found themselves facing a new threat to their traditions: the threat of freedom. Determined to protect his only daughter from corruption, Amini's father prohibits talk, books, higher education, and tries to push her into an early Persian marriage. Can she resist? Should she? Focused intently on what she stands to gain, Amini eventually comes to see what she also stands to lose: a family and community bound together by food, celebrations, sibling escapades, and unexpected acts of devotion by parents to whom she feels invisible. In this poignant, funny, entertaining and uplifting memoir, Amini documents with keen eye, quick wit, and warm heart, how family members build, buoy, wound, and save one another across generations; how lives are shaped by the demands and burdens of loyalty and legacy; and how she rose to the challenge of deciding what to keep and what to discard.
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  • Kirkus

    Starred review from July 15, 2020
    Amini's debut memoir chronicles her parents' lives in Iran, their journey to America, and her own coming-of-age. As the American-born author grew up in New York City, she heard intriguing stories from her immigrant mother, Hana, who married her father when she was just 14 and he was 34. The couple had secretly lived as Jews in the city of Mashhad, where Hana wore the chador in order to pass as Muslim. Upon arriving in the United States, Hana swapped the chador for Oscar de la Renta gowns and her diffidence for unbridled candor, often at the expense of her husband's pride. However, the author apparently didn't inherit her mother's verbosity or sartorial ostentatiousness; instead, Amini struggled to find her voice in a household that didn't value the education or autonomy of women. This is a memoir of Amini's extraordinary journey and of her unflappable love for her family, even when their actions threatened to hinder her dreams--particularly her pursuit of a college education. The author deftly unpacks the complexities of her devout and volatile father, who told her, "It is my responsibility as your father to protect you from Americans and not allow you to become one." But although he was a formidable figure, he's also shown to have exhibited moments of tenderness when Amini was sick as a child or when she married the love of her life. The author weaves a central theme of concealment and visibility throughout her book with a fine sense of nuance. In a prologue, she asks, "How could I be unseen when seen...could I disappear upon demand?" And toward the end of the memoir, she writes in her journal, "What does it mean to claim me...to make me mine?" She describes how, ultimately, her love of literature, art, and social work allowed her to answer the latter question and finally find her voice. Here, that voice wields a quiet power, examining her world with unflinching curiosity and care. A moving, engaging investigation of culture and family.

    COPYRIGHT(2020) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

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Concealed
Concealed
Memoir of a Jewish-Iranian Daughter Caught Between the Chador and America
Esther Amini
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