Everything Sad Is Untrue

Everything Sad Is Untrue cover
Everything Sad Is Untrue by Daniel Nayeri

by Daniel Nayeri

Levine Querido, 2020
368 pages

Age 10 and older

Nayeri’s poignant, engaging memoir begins with a vivid childhood memory of a visit to his grandparents when he was still a little boy known as Khorsou living in Iran. The world, as far as he knew then, revolved around him. A few years later, Khosrou, his sister, and mother flee Iran after his mother converts to Christianity, her life at risk because of government persecution. They leave almost everything behind, including Khosrou’s father, who chooses to stay. Their refugee journey, propelled by his mother’s relentless pursuit of safety, opportunity, and a home for her children, eventually takes them to Edmonds, Oklahoma. Khosrou, now Daniel, regales his teacher, middle school classmates—and readers—with stories about his life in Iran and Persian culture, using The Thousand and One Nights as both reference point and inspiration. Daniel finds much about life in the United States strange, and misses Iran and his father, a loss amplified by lingering questions and the presence of his mother’s new husband, who beats her. Nayeri’s unique, often funny conversational voice, punctuated by moments of meta-narrative, is captivating, full of both childlike innocence and longing (not to mention a fair share of bathroom humor), and moments of adult-like observation. Nayeri notes that he condensed his middle school classmates to types, while the adults, especially his parents, stepfather, and teacher, come through in full-relief in this distinctive, memorable work. ©2020 Cooperative Children’s Book Center