A Memoir of My Mother’s Hidden Life


“Richly detailed memoir by a daughter who, as an adult, learned of her Iranian mother’s secret past: arranged marriage at 13, a baby at 14 and divorce while still a teenager…An engaging account of life in Iran in the 20th century, full of memorable characters whose lives take unexpected turns. The author’s portrayal of Iranian society and male-female relations are revealing, and her descriptions of clothing, food and drink are especially engrossing. An eye-opening account that disturbs with its depiction of the place of women in Iranian society, but warms the heart in its portrayal of their gritty endurance.” Kirkus Reviews

“Riveting.” Vogue

“Darznik’s memoir is a beautifully recounted homage to her mother’s life and struggles.” Booklist

“Superb. . .riveting. . .a moving tribute.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer

“Darznik knows how to spin a readable tale that unfolds with a novel’s drama. She has told her mother’s story, and has done so splendidly.” Richmond Times-Dispatch

“A wrenching and unforgettable tale.” BookPage

“Darznik recovers the lives of three generations of Iranians. . .each moves further toward unique individuality than her predecessor.” Publishers Weekly

“Distinguishes itself from the plethora of recent Iranian American memoirs… a testament to [Iranian women’s] resilience.” MS

“A rich cultural memoir detailing generations of women’s lives in Iran. Engaging and lovely.” Library Journal

“A memoir of remarkable resilience. . . Stunning.” Jacki Lyden, NPR host and author of Daughter of the Queen of Sheba

“Beautifully and lyrically written. . .mesmerizing and uplifting. . .this memoir will encourage you to look around at the people in your life and wonder whether there are parts to their stories you may be missing.” North County Times

“Riveting. .will leave you shocked and inspired.”

“You can practically taste the pomegranates as Darznik unearths the secret life of her mother, Lili, in 1950s Iran. Lili was married off to an abusive man and had his child–Jasmin’s half sister–at 13. Leaving the girl behind, Lili fled her marriage, trained as a midwife and moved to California. Darznik, who grew up believing her mother’s tale of a flawless Iranian daughter (so unlike her American one) was a myth, is a rare talent, and her family history a dazzler.” MORE

“Leaves the reader breathless, wondering and heartbroken, all at the same time. Darznik’s details bring Iran to life in ways that no history book could match. This tale of extended family is a must-read for anyone who wishes to look with open eyes at other cultures. The book’s insight into the spirit of women and their struggles in life will not soon be forgotten.” Roanoke Times

“A beautiful book.” Diane Rehm, host of The Diane Rehm Show (NPR)


“The Good Daughter is that rare memoir so rich in detail and dialogue that one feels as if [one is] voraciously flipping through a fiction novel — dramatic and sweeping, Lili’s life rivals that of a Dickensian orphan child. And in many ways, the memoir is a love letter to Iran, as well. Tehran is as faithfully recorded in all its beauties and flaws right alongside Lili’s life, both inexorably intertwined with the other.” Hyphen magazine

“Darznik’s ear for language and poetic imagery produce a deft memoir. . . .a brilliant literary offering, replete with all the complexities of life, love, and relationships. . .a beautifully layered book, imbued with the binding love of mothers for their children.” Baltimore Times

“Truly mesmerizing.” Scotland on Sunday (UK)

“Darznik’s deeply affecting memoir illuminates the complexities of Iranian women’s lives as few books have ever done. Once you read this book you will see Iran and Iranians with new eyes. A brilliant debut.” Anita Amirrezvani, author of The Blood of Flowers

“Intricate, fierce, and genuine, The Good Daughter is a bold and unflinching exploration of faith and family, of love and alienation, of censure and forgiveness. Jasmin Darznik’s graceful prose delves with razor-edged introspection into the darkened passageways of her mother’s past, and in the process, fulfills the highest ambition of the memoir as a genre: to tell a personal story that, by virtue of its honesty, sheds light on an all too universal truth.” Gina B. Nahai, author of Caspian Rain and Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith