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Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution, and Leaving Iran    by Afschineh Latifi order for
Even After All This Time
by Afschineh Latifi
Order:  USA  Can
Regan, 2005 (2005)

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Most of us look back on teen and high school years with some uncomfortable memories. Though mine had their difficulties, including culture shock, they're dwarfed by what Afschineh Latifi, author of Even After All This Time, had to cope with in a foreign country, studying in a new language. Her engrossing story is interspersed with family pictures.

In Afschineh's childhood, the Latifis lived very comfortably in Tehran under the rule of the Shah. Her father was an engineer and an army Colonel, who loved his wife and delighted in his four children. They lived well, but Afschineh's mother also involved the children in helping others. In 1979, when Afschineh was ten years old, Colonel Latifi was arrested by members of the new Khomeini regime. Long weeks of mixed fear and hope followed, with occasional visits and frequent sudden shifts of jails. A mockery of a trial by the mullahs resulted in her father's execution.

The author expresses poignantly her mother's distress and determination to pursue any avenue that might help her husband. Subsequently, she discusses ongoing harrassment of the family by officials, including Palestinians, and the need to gradually sell belongings and eventually move out of their home. She tells us that 'The fundamentalists used religion to unite the masses against a common enemy, as people have been doing for thousands of years, and we were the enemy.' Fearing for her daughters, Afschineh and Afsaneh, Mrs. Latifi arranged for their schooling at an Austrian boarding school run by nuns. She herself returned to Iran to be with her small sons and deal with remaining property.

Later, circumstances and dwindling resources forced Mrs. Latifi to send the girls to her brother in Norfolk, Virginia. Their welcome there wore out quickly and they lived on sufferance, at the same time coping with schooling in a foreign language. The sisters clung to each other, with Afsaneh, the elder by a year, acting as the surrogate mother. Their bleak situation gradually improved as they grew old enough for part-time jobs. By the time their mother and brothers joined them in 1987, the girls were able to welcome them into their own rented apartment. Many years of hard work and financial struggles down the road, Afsaneh became a doctor and Afschineh a lawyer (and their brothers soon followed them in the same professions).

The author also discusses her return to Iran in 1995, fifteen years after she left. Of a visit to Esfahan she tells us 'I spent the morning learning about our culture, our rich history, and our ancient traditions, and in the evening I am reminded that barbarians have taken over the country.' In Even After All This Time, Afschineh Latifi tells a wonderful story - one of hard times and betrayals but also including heartwarming accounts of Good Samaritans. Above all, it gave me a tremendous admiration for the author's mother, an indomitable matriarch who did what was needed after disaster to hold her family together and assure her children's education.

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