From the moment her airplane lands, she starts to see differences; not only in the geography of the land and the appearance of the people, but the look of the whole place. She is used to bustling cities in Iran, crowded with enthusiastic workers, shoppers, and people socializing. In contrast, her new neighborhood in America seemed fairly unexciting; she describes it as uniformed houses, all the lawns in perfect order, as if everything was constantly being maintained to achieve the ideal look. But little did she know that this was only the beginning of differences.
Entering a new school would open a whole other orbit of biculturalism. As she enters school, she sees everyone; completely different looking from her, and all of them fluent in English. Curious classmates peered around her desk, examining her from head to toe trying to figure out who she is; what type of creature she is and where she comes from. To make things even worse, Firoozehs mother decides to attend school with her, to learn proper English. This leads to ultimate humiliation for Firoozeh. Not only is she an immigrant student, but an immigrant student with her mother in elementary school with her.
Students constantly ask her where she comes from, as if shes an alien of some sort. She slowly learns to respond by saying You know, the country where Persian cats come from. She hopes to one day learn English properly so she can fit in and communicate with her fellow students. Her first day is completely confusing as she tries to embrace all that is happening around her. On the way home, the bus driver drops Firoozeh and her mother a few blocks away from their house. Not so familiar with the location, they get further confused and cant recognize their own home.
To them, the homes all look alike, and cant distinguish their own from the rest. These incidents represent the difficulties that Firoozeh goes through in her first couple of months in America. However, after a couple of months time, she learns more and more about the American culture and believes she is on her way to Americanization. During summer vacation, the family celebrates their first year completed in America by voyaging to Disneyland. Being a child, Firoozeh is completely star-struck and amazed by the tiny world created for the sole purpose of entertaining people.
All her favorite Disney characters that she had only heard the names of in Iran were now walking amongst her in real life! Firoozeh wasnt the only one who enjoyed herself. Her father Kauzem described Walt Disney as a ¦ genius, a man whose vision allowed everyone, regardless of age, to relive the wonderment of childhood. (p. 17) Their lives in America seemed to be improving, until the Iranian Revolution ten years later. Firoozeh, now a seventeen year old, was again suffering from racism everywhere she went.
People were now staring at her again, questioning her and calling her a terrorist, just because of what was happening in her country. The pain of not fitting in was now something she became accustomed to, and she decided to overcome it by further educating herself. She was thankful to have the opportunity to be educated, and she wanted to take advantage of her chance. Firoozeh spent high school learning French, until she got fluent in it. She was offered an opportunity to travel to Paris for two months because of her immense skill and fluency at the language.
There, she again faces racism, where she is interviewed and labeled as a seventeen-year-old spy. She begins to ignore the racism around her, and advances in her studies. From education, she learns who she really is. The strength is now ingrained in her and she knows who she is: a young Iranian woman who has succeeded through many hardships. Nothing can stop her from learning, the main factor that helped her develop her personality. The main conflict she faces over and over again throughout the story is intense racism and not being able to fit in with every other American.
By end, she realizes that by using education she can overcome all her struggles. Firoozeh Dumas ends up marrying a Frenchman who she meets in college, and they both live happily together. She realizes that her own encouragement and drive to study has brought her all the way to college, and finds her a perfect partner. As she said before, education is what helps a person realize what they are meant to be. In my opinion, the character goes through many hardships; and just as things begin to turn up, she again falls into another political conflict because of the Iranian Revolution.
With these multiple problems she has to face, she realizes that one key factor can help her survive through it all: education. She knew that as long as she kept studying and taking advantage of the right of education, she will succeed; and she did. I think she dealt with her hardships perfectly and came out extremely strong at the end. This book is an ideal representation of an immigrant girl coming from Iran. It shows the perfect perspective of what someone like Firoozeh might think, and the problems they will face.
It gives an opportunity for the reader to advance their knowledge on a new culture, to see an Iranian immigrants point of view. By adding some humor in the story, it becomes even more entertaining and interesting to learn about Firoozehs struggles. This book has given me an increased amount of respect for people who come from a different country. Firoozehs education helped her go extremely far and be successful in life, and I hope the same will happen to me because Im blessed with the right of education that Firoozeh describes.