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Reviewed by Caitlin B.

Jasmin Darznik was a toddler when her family moved from Iran to America. When Jasmin reaches her early twenties, her mother, Lili, sends her a series of cassette tapes chronicling their family’s life in Iran. In The Good Daughter, Jasmin recounts the true story contained in Lili’s tapes.

Mid-century Iran was not an easy place for the women of traditional families. Lili’s mother, Kobra, left her husband many times during the course of their marriage because of mistreatment. Iranian children belonged to their fathers so, despite Kobra’s protests, at age thirteen, Lili was married to a man twice her age. In little time, he became abusive and his family neglectful. Lili lived in squalor and fear while pregnant with their first child – a daughter she named Sara. Like Kobra, Lili made the difficult choice between survival and her maternal rights.

When Lili finally won her father’s permission to divorce, she was forced to leave Sara with her husband’s family. After many years, Lili found personal redemption by earning a medical degree in Europe and marrying a German engineer named Johann before moving back to Iran. While developing her career as “Madame Doctor,” Lili suffered further personal tragedy through several failed pregnancies and Johann’s struggle with addiction. Jasmin’s birth brought about a protracted period of happiness for the family. Although Lili attempted to keep in contact with Sara during those years, her ex-husband’s family soured the bond and Jasmin did not know her sister.

At the beginning of Iran’s Islamic Revolution, Lili, Johann and Jasmin moved to America. Their circumstances were greatly reduced, and Jasmin grew up an American girl, not an Iranian daughter – a “good daughter,” as Lili said. As a result, Lili and Jasmin’s relationship was often strained.

After her father’s death, Jasmin discovers a photograph from Lili’s first wedding and asks her about it. After initially refusing to divulge her past, Lili begins confessing to Jasmin through the cassette tapes. The story (and resulting book) is a moving and heartfelt olive branch between mother and daughter.

Rating: 4.5/5

Caitlin is a fiction writer who also dabbles in poetry, creative nonfiction and acrylic painting. When not reading, she enjoys hiking, cooking and spending time with friends and pets. She earned her B.A. in English from the University of Portland and currently resides in Oregon.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Grand Central Publishing. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.