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Book review: Not Without My Daughter, book by Betty Mahmoody with William Hoffer

Book review written by: Lara

‘Not without my daughter’ is a Novel written by Betty Mahmoody that is based on true events. She details her journey through life of marrying an Iranian anesthesiologist in the year 1977. All was going well in their married life and they had a daughter named Mahtob (moonlight in persion). However, everything came crashing down when they went to Iran in 1984 for a two-week visit. Little did Betty know, she was being held hostage for two years. “I want Mahtob to grow up here.” was something Betty was terrified of hearing from Moody. Her nightmare became her reality. As months pass by, with her home-sickness getting worse, and depression stabbing her in the heart, she starts investigating how she can escape with the fact that Moody (her husband) is observing every step she takes, as well as threatening by killing her if she plans to escape.The idea behind the title of the book ‘Not without my daughter’ was that Betty had the easy path of fleeing the country with the exception of Mahtob, for this Betty rejected the offer and informed the people “Not without my daughter!”. Two wasteful torturous years spent in Tehran, Iran and she managed to escape by a long journey through the help of a man who helps hostages escape the country. As the journey through escape begins - to get back to America- they first had to travel 800km to reach Turkey through the snowy mountains with the help of many Iranians who assisted her through the escape. Once she reached America in 1986, she filed for a divorce.

Throughout reading this book, I noticed that it made me go through a rollercoaster of emotions. The realization of the trauma a woman faces for marrying a person she loves outside her religion and nationality is devastating to read. The actions that Betty has been through inspires others in her situation to keep fighting as miracles exist. Completing the book made me feel empty...wanting to know more. It's like, when you finish a great TV series and you’re saddened at the fact that there might not be another season. At the closing of the book, Betty mentioned that nobody knew where Moody was, it's like he disappeared into thin air. With all the trouble Moody put Betty and little Mahtob in, I could care less if he was dead or alive, however, for some strange reason, it left me curious...where did Moody go? In every book, I believe that critiquing is important as well as mentioning the pros and cons. For this, the way that Betty has structured her book made the narration simple for the readers to understand, the sprinkling of flashbacks was heartfelt to show what she was missing in the USA while she was being held hostage, and compared her freedom. However, something that bothered me was the way that she didn't give an exception on how she was being treated in a muslim household. Coming from a muslim-based household, i know for a fact that, barely any muslim household treats people, in this case, females in an inhumane way. Betty has avoided generalising criticisms which applied in Iran's population based on Moody’s family. Roger Ebert, a critic, commented “It stirs up its audience against a group of people simply because their religious beliefs and social customs are different from our own.”

Overall, I give the book a rating of: 9.8/10.

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