The Good Daughter


Author:  Jasmine Darznik

Title:  The Good Daughter: a memoir of my mother’s hidden life

Genre:  Adult Books for Young Adults: Autobiographies; Biography; Family and Relationships; Memoirs

Publication Date:  2011

Number of Pages:  324

Geographical Setting:  Tehran, Iran; California

Time Period:  20th century

Series (If applicable): N/A

Plot Summary:  Jasmine flies home to attend her father’s funeral.  After the funeral, her mother is unable to stay in her house and needs to move.  Jasmine discovers a picture of her mother in a wedding dress with another man who is not her father.  Her mother at first refuses to discuss the picture or its meaning.  Jasmine returns home and then receives the first of many cassette tapes in which her mother relates the story of her life in Iran, her first marriage and that Jasmine has a half-sister.  It is a bittersweet, moving story that gives the reader an intimate and in-depth look at life in Iran and the hardships faced by women in the country.  Despite the hardships, her mother Lili survived and moved to America and depicts the struggle she had in making a life in America for her and her daughter.  Jasmine relates the difficult relationship she had at times with her mother as Jasmine sought to fit in America and did not want to abide by her mother’s cultural beliefs.  Although this is a non-fiction novel, fiction readers will also enjoy this moving story of mother-daughter and women’s relationships that span several generations.

Subject Headings:  Darznik, Jasmine; Mother and adult daughter; Family secrets; Abandoned children; Women—Iran—Social conditions—20th century; Immigrants; Iranian-American women.

Appeal: Bittersweet, thoughtful, moving, engrossing, leisurely-paced, gritty, atmospheric, multiple points of view, well-developed, flawed, exotic, descriptive, character-driven

3 terms that best describe this book:

Character-driven, gritty, descriptive

Similar Authors and Works (why are they similar?):

3 Relevant Non-Fiction Works and Authors

Paula Isabel Allende ( a memoir about a mother-daughter relationship of Isabel and her daughter Paula and their turbulent life in Chile)

Things I have been silent about Azar Nafisi (a memoir about girl growing up in Iran and her struggle with her mother and the women’s choices in Iran)

Lipstick jihad:  a memoir growing up Iranian in America and American in Iran (a memoir of an Iranian who grew up in America but traveled to Iran, this story relates the author’s exotic picture of Iran with the reality of actually living in Iran)

3 Relevant Fiction Works and Authors

Digging to America Anne Tyler (a story about an Iranian woman and a young American couple who adopted two girls from Korea and their resulting friendship.  It gives two different perspectives on adapting to life in America, yet still keeping the traditions of their culture).

Winter Garden Kristin Hannah ( a story about the strained relationship between two sisters and their mother and the family secret that their mother has kept for years)

The Joy Luck Club Amy Tan ( a story of mother’s and daughters and the disconnect and lack of understanding between the two as the mother struggles to hold on to her Chinese heritage and the daughter struggles to assert herself in America.)

Name:  Sara Bartels


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