2020 Chicago Writers Association Book of the Year Award in Traditional Nonfiction
2021 Finalist in the Eric Hoffer Awards
Jacqueline Saper, named after Jacqueline Kennedy, was born in Tehran to Iranian and British parents. At eighteen she witnessed the civil unrest of the 1979 Iranian revolution and continued to live in the Islamic Republic during its most volatile times, including the Iran-Iraq War. In a deeply intimate and personal story, Saper recounts her privileged childhood in prerevolutionary Iran and how she gradually became aware of the paradoxes in her life and community—primarily the disparate religions and cultures.
In 1979 under the Ayatollah regime, Iran became increasingly unfamiliar and hostile to Saper. Seemingly overnight she went from living a carefree life of wearing miniskirts and attending high school to listening to fanatic diatribes, forced to wear the hijab, and hiding in the basement as Iraqi bombs fell over the city. She eventually fled to the United States in 1987 with her husband and children after, in part, witnessing her six-year-old daughter’s indoctrination into radical Islamic politics at school. At the heart of Saper’s story is a harrowing and instructive tale of how extremist ideologies seized a Westernized, affluent country and transformed it into a fundamentalist Islamic society.