Rooftops of Tehran by Mahbod Seraji
“Rooftops of Tehran” tells the story of Pasha, his best friend Ahmed and the girls they love, Zari and Faheemeh navigating the tricky process of growing up in the Shah’s Iran. For the first half or 2/3rds of the book the narration is split between a time period starting in the summer of 1973 and Pasha’s stay in a mental hospital in 1974. He knows that something traumatic and terrible has happened, but he has no recollection of what it is.
This split in action could have turned out very cheesy and sensationalistic. Instead, Seraji got me involved in his characters so that I was genuinely interested in what had happened to put Pasha in a mental hospital and had me reading every page with interest and apprehension. Although the culture in which these characters were operating is very different from my own, I found them to be very relatable and real. I also loved the peek into pre-revolutionary Iran and found the hints of the coming revolution absolutely fascinating, particularly when people speculated about who should or would lead the revolution and worried about the possible influence of mullahs.
I really enjoyed “Rooftops of Tehran,” it really pulled me into Iran in the mid-1970s in an interesting way with well-developed characters and an interesting plot.