Publishers Weekly Review
A solid entry in multicultural literature, Mead (Year of No Rain) once again profiles a country in conflict. Thirteen-year-old Azad lives with his father in the Kurdish town of Sardasht in 1987. He sees his mother whenever he can, but Azad never understood why his parents divorced when he was seven. Azad observes the growing hostility against Kurds in both his country of Iran and in Iraq, where Saddam Hussein has vowed to get rid of the Kurds for good. His neighbor hints that Azad's father is part of SAVAMA-Iran's dreaded secret police. Not until Azad is helping his mother prepare for his cousin Mohammad's wedding does he learn the real reason for his parents' divorce: his mother works to protect the human rights of women and children. His life changes dramatically when a poisonous gas bomb is dropped over Azad's village. Although Azad and his friend escape the worst of the gas, 300 people die in the attack, and Azad grows up quickly after the incident. When it becomes clear they are no longer safe, Azad and his mother undergo a perilous journey to Turkey, eventually making their way to the United States. Mead doesn't overwhelm the story with too many details about the conflict or daily life in Iran, yet young readers will be drawn into Azad's story and come away with an understanding of his fears. Ages 10-up. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved All rights reserved.
Booklist Review
In 1987 Saddam Hussein bombed the Kurds in the town of Sardasht, Iran, with chemical weapons he obtained from the West. This short docu-novel tells the horrifying story through the fictional first-person narrative of Azad, 13, a Kurdish boy, who survives the bombing and finally flees across the border to Turkey with part of his family. His dad stays behind. Azad knows that his father is an informer for Iran's dreaded secret police, but when Dad even betrays his own wife, she leaves him. The politics, though sometimes confusing, is part of the drama, and the secrets and lies break up families and separate friends. After his lavish, three-day Kurdish wedding, Azad's uncle Mohammad is driven to join the Kurdish resistance. What will his family do while he is gone? Most moving is Azad's bleak relationship with his father, a traitor, defeated and drunk. As in her novel Girl of Kosovo (2001), Mead brings home the tragedy of war through the experiences of one young teen. --Hazel Rochman Copyright 2007 Booklist