I must admit, this is the only book, I have read in many years that has intrigued me to the extent that I finished nearly 500 pages in two days time! The story, just like a movie, is so dramatically explicit that it you become party to the whole event, an event of Betty Mahmoody’s life that is written to serve as an eye opener for many.
This is the only totally biographical book I have ever read and it did bring two nights of tears.
Betty Mahmoody, a Michigan divorcee with two young sons, met and fell in love with a very nice, intellectual, Westernized doctor from Iran. He had studied and qualified in America. They have a little four year old girl, Mahtob. After much persuasion, Betty agrees to visit Moody’s family in Iran.
Once there, Moody changes, becoming more domineering, abusive, God-fearing Islamic and Iranian, expecting Betty to adopt the customs of his homeland. She and Mahtob become virtual prisoners wherever they live. She fears Moody and his family, realizing that he intends them all to stay in Iran. But Betty receives help and kindness from a few friends, where she risks all, seeking help from various strangers.
Desperate to get out of Iran and Moody’s custory, Betty grasps at anything. Even rumors that people-smugglers kill, rape and rob, then abandon their charges, do not deter her. The Swiss Embassy people have warned her; they are unable to help either. She waits in fear, her hatred of Moody and what he is doing growing stronger.
When fate does give her a chance, Moody plays his trick-- he wants to keep Mahtob and lets Betty go, but she is determined -- Not Without My Daughter!
Finally after over a year long struggle of hiding from Moody, fighting, facing his abuse, violence and his spying family, she flees Iran with the help of a complete stranger, climbing Turkish snow clad mountains, they smuggle her out of Iran.
All through this one just keeps on wondering what will happen next, will Betty and Mahtob be able to make it? Will Mahtob be able to keep pace amongst the smugglers? Will Moody get to know that Betty is escaping and will he like numerous times before get hold of her and beat her up?
Finally Betty is able to reach her home—America, the whole emotional drama is so overwhelming, that one can’t stop but feel for Betty and Mahtob.
The whole narration is in such a way that invokes deep emotions, often mixed, and that of, hope, disappointment, regret, strength, faith, and gratitude. It was as though all the traits of humans are tested to the extreme in the storyline. The situation of interactive reading naturally calls for a reality check.
Whether or not Iran is a good place to live or a bad place to live is beside the point. From start to finish, her story says "America = good; Iran = bad." So why did she even go there? It was 1984, just 3 years after that whole hostage situation. Didn't she know what she was traveling into? She says it was "for Mahtob" that she, all the while somehow “knew" her husband would keep them there forever. Yet she bypassed her own intuition and walked right into the danger zone with her 4yr old.
This book is remarkably attention grabbing, and holding. The thick pages of more than 500 pages got me flustered with the length. The events came forth in a carefully sequenced narration, producing the effects akin to that of a great movie, allowing me no plausible option to discard this thick volume book, anyway! But I do so found the completed reading a triumphant and relieving one.
From a purely literacy and bias feminist point of view, I found my heart going out to Betty, wanting to help, but helpless! A thrilling book, with exceptional writing, I would implore book lovers to snick a peek.