Friday, May 23, 2014

Moon at Nine - Deborah Ellis

Title: Moon at Nine
Author: Deborah Ellis
Publisher: Pajama Press, 2014 (Paperback)
Length: 223 pages
Genre: Young Adult; Historical Fiction
Started: May 23, 2014
Finished: May 23, 2014

From the back cover:

Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. As the daughter of a wealthy family in Tehran, Farrin has learned to keep a low profile. It has been ten years since the Shah was overthrown; the Revolutionary Guard must never learn of her mother's Bring Back the Shah activities. Her family could be thrown in jail, or worse.

The day she meets Sadira, Farrin's life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship develops into something deeper, events take a dangerous turn. If their secret is uncovered, Farrin and Sadira will be arrested by the religious police. And in Iran, there is only one outcome for gays: execution.

Deborah Ellis is an internationally acclaimed and multi-award winning author best known for her stories about young people in the Muslim world. Based on real-life events, Moon at Nine is a tense and riveting story about finding love and staying true to oneself, even in the face of a merciless regime.

Farrin lives in Iran in 1988. The Revolutionary government has been in place for the past ten years since the overthrow of the Shah, and everyone lives their lives under a microscope. Farrin's mother is still loyal to the Shah like many of Iran's upper class, and even though her frivolous parties pose no threat to the government, Farrin knows to keep that a secret and not draw attention to herself. When Farrin meets Sadira at school, she is immediately drawn to her. Sadira inspires Farrin to study harder and improve; and for the first time, Farrin actively attracts attention. But when Sadira and Farrin begin to fall in love, that attention could mean the difference between life and death. Homosexuality is punishable by death in Iran and the girls know it, but though they try to stop seeing the other, they cannot live a lie.

The author is known for writing books about tough situations involving children, many of them living  in the Middle East. We use her Breadwinner trilogy in classrooms quite frequently to illustrate concerns of children living in different societies around the world. This novel takes on a whole new view of the violation of the rights of LGBT people in different countries. The writing is gorgeous, peppered with Iranian poetry and culture, with beautiful metaphors about Farrin and Sadira's love for each other.

Based on a true story, this novel illustrates the reality for many LGBT people in various countries even today. I couldn't imagine my students or my child having to face prison and execution just because they were true to themselves, so stories like this are good for kids to read simply to remind them of human rights issues around the world.

A well-written novel on subject matter rarely explored (but sorely needed).

Thoughts on the cover:
I love the barbed wire in that shimmery plastic going across Farrin's face, very telling.

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