A reporter for Time who worked in Tehran from 2000-2001, Moaveni writes perceptively in her latest book about what it's like to be a permanent outsider, forever caught between two cultures. Raised in California, she is the child of Iranian exiles. As a youngster, she is privately obsessed with the country her parents fled when the Islamic Revolution took place. Refusing to smile or smoke in public, she adapts the habits of an idealized Iran, which she perceives as a mythical paradise, a country of artistic and intellectual ferment. In 2000, she travels to Tehran to work as a journalist and find out for herself what the country is really like. Although she mixes well with other Iranians, she is viewed as an outsider and because she isn't married a curiosity. The struggle of Iranian women is a point of focus for the author, who comes to view their cautious steps towards a more liberal lifestyle as a sort of jihad. Moaveni is a skilled writer and thoughtful observer, and she presents a fascinating look at daily life in a country that elicits both love and hate from its inhabitants. Offering all the background readers could hope for from such a book, she provides a wonderful synthesis of viewpoints, perspectives and customs the conclusions of a traveler who isn't quite sure where home is. A reading group guide is included in the book.

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