Title: My Name is Mahtob
Author: Mahtob Mahmoody
Publisher: Thomas Nelson
Copyright: December 1, 2015
Format: E-Book, 352 Pages, $14.72 [Amazon Hardcover], $11.99 [Kindle], $16.53 [Audible], $14.72 [Barnes & Noble Hardcover], $11.99 [Nook], $11.99 [Google Play], $11.99 [iBooks]
Two decades ago, millions of readers worldwide thrilled to the story told in the international bestseller Not Without My Daughter—subsequently made into a film starring Sally Field—that told of an American mother and her six-year-old child’s daring escape from an abusive and tyrannical Iranian husband and father. Now the daughter returns to tell the whole story, not only of that imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Tehran: living in fear of re-abduction, enduring recurring nightmares and panic attacks, attending school under a false name, battling life-threatening illness—all under the menacing shadow of her father.
This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness. Taking readers from Michigan to Iran and from Ankara, Turkey, to Paris, France, My Name Is Mahtob depicts the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by faith in God’s goodness and in his care and love. And Mahmoody reveals the secret of how she liberated herself from a life of fear, learning to forgive the father who had shattered her life and discovering joy and peace that comes from doing so.
When I was in high school, I became fascinated by Betty Mahmoody’s autobiographical work Not Without My Daughter. In reading that particular book until it literally fell apart, I found a strength in the author that I admired exceedingly. I tried to look at the situation through an objective lens and to take everything in a fact-by-fact basis.
In December of 2015, much to my delight, Mahtob Mahmoody finally broke her silence as her new book My Name is Mahtob came out. As much as I am interested in what both Betty and Sayed had to say in regards to their shared past, I always silently wondered what Mahtob thought and how she viewed everything. After I purchased it, I could scarcely put the book down and read it from cover to cover with great eagerness.
In Ms. Mahmoody’s autobiographical work, I found not only her retelling the facts of a harrowing experience as she knew them but I discovered the story that existed beyond it all. I peered into a soul who for so long would have suffered from bitterness had her mother not jumped in and gently guided her to the path of forgiveness. Yes, this is a story that gives Mahtob’s perspective on what life was like before Iran, what it was like living there during the Iran-Iraq War, the terrifying experience of sneaking into Turkey, and life in the United States thereafter. What some may not realize, this is a book about forgiveness and about a beautiful young woman who actively sought her own identity. One could even go so far as to say this is a coming-of-age story, one where the author blossoms into the person that she is today.
Mahtob is a person who has spent a great deal of her life in fear and restricted by the past. She is not only a strong young woman who overcame that fear and ultimately had the bravery to forgive a man who she for many years had nightmares about, she is a phoenix who has arisen from the ashes. Despite the negative situation she had suffered through in Iran, she adores her identity as an Iranian woman and celebrates the Persian New Year of No-ruz. As the story opens up, she speaks of how she commemorates No-ruz every year and how it has such a powerful effect on her life overall.
All in all, I viewed this book as the author’s way of making peace with the past. As she uses Nowruz imagery to describe her past and current life, I see it as her cutting the cords and moving onto a new beginning. This is a fabulous book that was inspirational, touching, and a complete eye-opener for me. The best part, in my opinion, is that despite the past and despite everything she has faced, the amazing person that Mahtob has become.
- “I was especially overjoyed when she packed one of my favorite snacks for me to take to school. My mouth watered as I dreamed of the celery stuffed with peanut butter that was waiting for me in my lunch bag. But when mealtime came, I found myself embarrassed to eat something so foreign in the presence of the other children. I nervously eyed them as I took a bite of my wonderful treat. I could see girls staring, looking perplexed. Some sniggered and pointed. Others seemed genuinely curious. Mom nudged me. “Mahtob, why don’t you share some with your friends?” Obediently, I held a piece out for the closest onlooker to sample. She took it from me and tasted it. The other students watched for her reaction. When she smiled, others found their courage and wanted to taste this strange culinary concoction. I handed out every last piece and in return I was warmed for the first time by their smiles of acceptance” (Mahmoody, 39-40).
- “My mind raced, trying to put the pieces together. All I could think of was that my dad and the film crew were inside that van. What was their plan? Were they going to jump out and force me into an interview or a reunion, or were they just going to grab me, throw me into the van, and drive off?” (Mahmoody, 206).
- “No-ruz is a time for making a fresh start, for leaving behind all the negativity of the previous year and moving forward with a blank slate. If you’ve wronged someone, No-ruz is the time to make amends. If you’ve been hurt by someone, No-ruz is the time to forgive” (Mahmoody, 112).
Join me next week as we take on Rebecca Musser’s The Witness Wore Red!