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Not Without My Daughter

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Sally Fields’s and Alfred Molina’s brilliant portrayals notwithstanding, as is often the case, the film adaptation of this story is an abridged and sanitized account, a faded husk of the tale you will encounter in the pages of this book. Betty Mahmoody's account of her time in Iran is not only full of gross factual inaccuracies but also blatant racism and xenophobia that made the reading experience hard to stomach.

Moody, Betty, and Mahtob had spent two days traveling from their home in Detroit to Moody's native country of Iran. Most of the critical reviews of this book claim that Mahmoody is racist, intolerant of Islamic culture, and a liar. Betty Mahmoudy recounts her experiences as a captive , with her daughter Mahtob, of her increasingly violent husband who keeps her a prisoner to stop her leaving the Islamic Republic. It never came to that, thank goodness, but films like Not Without My Daughter fascinated my grandparents, mom, brother and I. Once there, they would take a boat and travel across the Persian Gulf to one of the Gulf Arab States.I’m not saying there were happy times or good times she skipped, but condensing the bad parts down and putting a hateful voice behind it is going to end in a very dark book with a strong bias. No missing or damaged pages, no creases or tears, no underlining or highlighting of text, and no writing in the margins. Mahmoodi’s account raises some interesting questions, the first of which is, does she perpetuate harmful notions about and images of Islamic faith and culture?

To continue, is it fair of anyone to dismiss her story on the grounds that it casts Islamic culture in a negative light? There aren't enough words to describe the suffering and heartache of the human condition in Not Without My Daughter.Mahmoody became trapped in a culture hostile to Americans, a family hostile to her, and an abusive husband. My parents' divorce wasn’t the most amicable one out there, although you wouldn’t know it because they’re pretty good friends now.

I think Betty portrayed the people she knew in Iran as she remembered them but I’m not confident they were exactly as described.Is there anything intolerant and/or mean-spirited in the vivid descriptions of filth (bugs in the food, the airport bathroom, the pervasive aroma of Teheran) that could have been cut out of the manuscript? She also mentioned several instances of women who were not mistreated by their husbands, but also maintained, throughout the book, that most smugglers who helped people escape Iran could not be trusted. It shows what happened to Betty and her daughter after they escaped to America, while also explaining the heartbreaking phenomenon of international child abduction.

People made their homes out of cinder blocks, durable cardboard, and any other supplies they could find. Those who help her are vaguely described to protect their identities so it’s hard to connect with them. To her horror, she found herself and her four-year-old daughter, Mahtob, virtual prisoners of a man rededicated to his Shiite Moslem faith, in a land where women are near-slaves and Americans despised. Moody's attitude toward Betty also changed: He forced her to abide by increasingly strict Iranian customs; he lied to her; he claimed that she was lying whenever she complained; he ignored her and their daughter for days at a time; he even blinded himself to the oppression of women in Iran. Many people tell her to save herself and leave Mahtob but she recognizes that Moody is not a competent father and she knows that if she leaves Mahtob, she’ll grow up in his terrible family in Iran.What I have said in another review about Mahtob's book is that she focuses very little on the actual stay and journey out of Tehran after being held captive by her father and it read more like a documented therapeutic account that I'm sure she remains traumatized to this day, even though her father died years ago. Although Alfred Molina plays the role of Betty’s abusive Iranian husband well in the film, reading this book really made me realize just how far gone her husband was in real life. Then he said to me, when I get married and have children, if I find that my wife is not a good mother, I will take the children and go back to turkey.

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