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A compelling and intimate exploration of the complexity of a bicultural immigrant experience, To See and See Again traces three generations of an Iranian (and Iranian-American) family undergoing a century of change--from the author's grandfather, a feudal lord with two wives; to her father, a freespirited architect who marries an American pop singer; to Bahrampour herself, A compelling and intimate exploration of the complexity of a bicultural immigrant experience, To See and See Again traces three generations of an Iranian (and Iranian-American) family undergoing a century of change--from the author's grandfather, a feudal lord with two wives; to her father, a freespirited architect who marries an American pop singer; to Bahrampour herself, who grows up balanced precariously between two cultures and comes of age watching them clash on the nightly news.


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A compelling and intimate exploration of the complexity of a bicultural immigrant experience, To See and See Again traces three generations of an Iranian (and Iranian-American) family undergoing a century of change--from the author's grandfather, a feudal lord with two wives; to her father, a freespirited architect who marries an American pop singer; to Bahrampour herself, A compelling and intimate exploration of the complexity of a bicultural immigrant experience, To See and See Again traces three generations of an Iranian (and Iranian-American) family undergoing a century of change--from the author's grandfather, a feudal lord with two wives; to her father, a freespirited architect who marries an American pop singer; to Bahrampour herself, who grows up balanced precariously between two cultures and comes of age watching them clash on the nightly news.

30 review for To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America

  1. 4 out of 5

    da AL

    Bahrampour offers a beautiful and very personal account of what it's like to be of two cultures, particularly when one of the countries is not so easy to visit. Between my parents, my husband, and me, there are four different countries -- this is no longer nearly as unusual as it was only a few years ago. This is an important and easily relatable story.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Yesha

    Hands down the favorit book I was ever assigned to read for a class. Thanks, Elmaz!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Susie Chocolate

    Written by a woman that I went to high school with in Northern California. Funny that during high school, neither of us really talked or connected over the fact that we both shared this Iranian history but I just figured that she was another Iranian that was born here in the U.S and was not in touch with her Iranian roots, the way I was, having grown up in Iran. A well written and interesting book about how the author seeks to connect to her Iranian roots and culture. I very much connected to Written by a woman that I went to high school with in Northern California. Funny that during high school, neither of us really talked or connected over the fact that we both shared this Iranian history but I just figured that she was another Iranian that was born here in the U.S and was not in touch with her Iranian roots, the way I was, having grown up in Iran. A well written and interesting book about how the author seeks to connect to her Iranian roots and culture. I very much connected to the author’s cultural journey, which was very similar to the one I also took, coming right out of college.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Rebecca Orton

    I read the book, "To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America" by Tara Bahrampour from April 29th to November 9th, 2017. I recognized one Farsi word, ta'arof, on page 274 in this book after learning about it from an Iranian friend less than a couple months before and reading some of the research paper, "Offers and Expressions of Thanks as Face Enhancing Acts: Ta'arof in Persian" by Sofia A. Koutlaki that can be found in the Journal of Pragmatics. It is a word meaning to give food and drink I read the book, "To See and See Again: A Life in Iran and America" by Tara Bahrampour from April 29th to November 9th, 2017. I recognized one Farsi word, ta'arof, on page 274 in this book after learning about it from an Iranian friend less than a couple months before and reading some of the research paper, "Offers and Expressions of Thanks as Face Enhancing Acts: Ta'arof in Persian" by Sofia A. Koutlaki that can be found in the Journal of Pragmatics. It is a word meaning to give food and drink to guests when you are having the same food and drink for yourself. According to the research paper, Iranians are similar to Japanese people when saving face. It is rude to eat or drink something without offering it to your guests first. Page 274 did not really explain what ta'arof was but since I already knew what it meant, I was pretty excited to show my Iranian friend this page when he came to visit me. He was only aware of the Iranian author, Ms. Firoozeh Dumas, of the contemporary book, "Funny in Farsi," being sold in the United States, and so Ms. Tara Bahrampour was an unfamiliar Iranian author to him. In spite of my excitement with this book, this is the book that scared me with the horrors of the komiteh, which according to the author, went to the house she was in for a wedding reception. All the other women at the reception scrambled to put their Islamic chadors or hijabs on before the komiteh arrived at the front door. She had to hide alone in another room because she didn't have her hijab with her. It was locked up in another room upstairs in the house. It was a very tense situation. The tension was relieved after the host of the reception bribed the komiteh to overlook the house. After they left, the women threw off their chadors or hijabs and resumed the celebration. The komiteh is a policing committee that looks for violations of the Islamic dress code and other Islamic laws. If a member of the komiteh decided that a woman on the street was not dressed according to the Islamic dress code, then she might get thrown into jail or whipped. This concept was completely horrifying and felt inexplicable and wrong to me. Why spend the time, effort, and money on enforcing a dress code when there are hardened criminals committing acrimonious and atrocious crimes against humanity? In addition to this negative concept being expounded upon throughout the book's illuminating stories, the book also viewed the times with the Shah as very negative, in sharp contrast to Farah Pahlavi's book, "Enduring Love, My Life with the Shah: A Memoir." I couldn't reconcile the two accounts of the prevailing political climate prior to the 1979 Islamic revolution. It seemed that I was getting two contradictory viewpoints regarding how the people viewed the Shah and his political actions, including the land reforms. I did not realize until I read this book that a feudal society existed in Iran back then. The landlords lost their properties due to the land reforms and received little to no compensation for their value. The landlords went from being wealthy, benevolent overlords to impoverished citizens who were stripped of their lordship titles overnight. I remember how Farah's Pahlavi's book did not explain this critically important fact clearly when it discussed the land reforms in a more positive light. After all, the peasants were getting their own land and wasn't that a good thing? As a result, I gained a deeper understanding of Iran's political history. I highly recommend this book for American adults wishing to learn more about Iran from an author's personal perspective. I give this book five stars.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Virginia

    A beautiful memoir!!! Tara Bahrampour takes the reader into a unique world where her cultural lines aren't the only ones that begin to blur. The joys and trials of childhood and teenage angst, love and fear, family & destiny all play out against a cultural fabric so rich and colorful, that the reader is left feeling nothing less than blessed to have taken the journey.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Zohra Star

    I love Tara! The book is a great way to demystify the "Not Without My Daughter" type work out there. Its the story of an Iranian man married to an American mother through the eyes of their beautiful daughter. Tara also writes for the Washington Post is a pretty kick ass woman.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Mariam

    Of all the books written by the Iranian diaspora, this one is probably my favorite. (Well, this and Funny in Farsi.)

  8. 4 out of 5

    teresa

    This is my favorite book. The imagery puts you in the time and place, and made me nostalgic for another time and place.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    it must have been terrifying to just have to leave your country for a strange country. And yet trying to deny the fact that you are stuck there possibly forever. i don't think i could of done that when i was twelve. however much i would of liked the traveling bit there would still be the fact that you could never go home again. and on top of that is the fact that her parents seem to be freaking out also and moving around to trying to deny something must have been crushing. The strong people who it must have been terrifying to just have to leave your country for a strange country. And yet trying to deny the fact that you are stuck there possibly forever. i don't think i could of done that when i was twelve. however much i would of liked the traveling bit there would still be the fact that you could never go home again. and on top of that is the fact that her parents seem to be freaking out also and moving around to trying to deny something must have been crushing. The strong people who have always looked after you are scared of a realization is unthinkable to most people it is just mind-blowing and must have made Tara Bahrampour very strong to be able to go thought that and come out in one piece.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    Beautiful, thoughtful and poignant memoir of a young half-Iranian, half-American book. Bahrampour lived first in America, then several years in Iran, leaving in 1979, then returning sixteen years later for a visit and for reflection on her place--does she belong in Iran or America? Or neither place? She loves the family-centeredness, the rootedness of life in Iran, but is less sure about Islamic rules for women. She loves the freedom of America, but knows she is missing something her relatives Beautiful, thoughtful and poignant memoir of a young half-Iranian, half-American book. Bahrampour lived first in America, then several years in Iran, leaving in 1979, then returning sixteen years later for a visit and for reflection on her place--does she belong in Iran or America? Or neither place? She loves the family-centeredness, the rootedness of life in Iran, but is less sure about Islamic rules for women. She loves the freedom of America, but knows she is missing something her relatives that live in Iran still have. Exquisite.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Kristen Dunder

    Amazing, beautiful account of a young woman born to an Iranian father and American mother, who lives part of her life in both Iran and the US. Both countries, at different times, have felt to her like home and at others like a strange land, as in both her family feels welcome at times, and outsiders at others. This is a personal account of the Iranian Revolution, in which change in the country's leadership determined a dramatic shift in an entire culture and way of life.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Grace

    I have not read " Reading Lolita in Tehran" but I do know that Ms. Bahrampour writes a beautiful authentic story. I read it first and passed it onto my friend who lived his first 18 years in Iran. He said it is what life is like there. This book does not focus on the oppression of women but of the beauty of the culture. It also paints a clear picture of what it is like for those who immigrate to the US. Grace

  13. 5 out of 5

    Joanne Sperans

    This was written by a friend's daughter. With an Iranian father and an American mother, she grew up in both countries. When the Shah fell, her family had to leave Iran and the idyllic childhood she had led there. Years later she went back as a young woman, and the story of her discoveries is beautiful and fascinating.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Liza Rosenberg

    I love Tara Bahrampour's account of moving between the two societies. She's around my age, so all the American pop culture references resonate with me, and I've developed a great affinity for Persian culture since my husband is Persian. Her writing is excellent, and her attention to detail allows you to clearly envision the settings she describes.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Donovan

    Met the author - wonderful book

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sue

    Interesting story of life in both Iran and the US - good sense of what it means to be part of a large Iranian family - felt a bit like the family from "My Big Fat Greek Wedding". Worth the read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Sean Murphy

    Hit home for me.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jodi Geever

    DNF. Interesting, but it was an inter-library loan that is now long overdue. :(

  19. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Just before I turned twelve, my family drove to Oregon to outrun the spring. Every time it looked like we were going to stay in one town, the weather would warm up and my father would pluck us out of the life we were considering and swing us back north on the highway. I think that deep down he believed that acknowledging the change of seasons would mean admitting we were in America to stay. Tara's father is Iranian and her mother is American. As a child, she lives in the U.S. for a time and then Just before I turned twelve, my family drove to Oregon to outrun the spring. Every time it looked like we were going to stay in one town, the weather would warm up and my father would pluck us out of the life we were considering and swing us back north on the highway. I think that deep down he believed that acknowledging the change of seasons would mean admitting we were in America to stay. Tara's father is Iranian and her mother is American. As a child, she lives in the U.S. for a time and then in Iran. In 1979 their family returns to America. This is her story of the loss of her home, finding her place in the U.S. and then finding a second home in Iran. Tara is a little older than me and while her life was quite different from mine, her recollections remind me of my childhood. In Iran, she sings songs from Grease, she watches Little House on the Prairie and The Wizard of Oz. After coming to America, she watches Roots in her hotel room, she feathers her hair, goes rollerskating, buys Nikes, and goes shopping at the Gap. She wants to fit in and she does. In America, first wives do not sit around to help raise the children of second wives. In America, if I heard about a grown man marrying a ten-year-old or kidnapping a teenager from her father's house I would consider him a criminal. But in the village where Tara grew up, none of this is so clear. As an adult, Tara goes back to Iran, and has the opportunity to see again. She feels keenly her American self and Iranian self. She lets us into the tug and the pull of her memories and her identity. We get to see Iran as she does, as an outsider and an insider. This is an interesting read. Tara vividly remembers life before and leading up to the revolution in Iran and her transition from life in Iran to America. She lets us in as she discovers her family and herself.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    i love memoirs that provide insight into historical events. and i particularly loved this one because it was so honest and never resorted to political rhetoric or really taking sides. the author simply described her experiences living as a child under the rule of the shah, fleeing to the united states right before the revolution, and returning to post-revolutionary iran as an adult. her insights were so honest and all of her thoughts about the good and bad that came from the revolution really i love memoirs that provide insight into historical events. and i particularly loved this one because it was so honest and never resorted to political rhetoric or really taking sides. the author simply described her experiences living as a child under the rule of the shah, fleeing to the united states right before the revolution, and returning to post-revolutionary iran as an adult. her insights were so honest and all of her thoughts about the good and bad that came from the revolution really captured what seems to be a really complicated political situation. i like how she described both the freedom and oppression she felt when wearing the chador. and she made interesting points about how the anti-west regulations of the revolution brought some back to appreciating certain things of traditional iranian culture. i just really liked the fact that she could see the good and the bad in both iran and the united states and how there was just a lot of grey area in her reactions to her experiences. especially after reading "reading lolita in tehran" i found this book to be refreshingly balanced.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Keleigh

    This memoir is a combination of delighted recognition at the likeness of humans across time and space, and a sense of bittersweet comfort that, indeed, we all inevitably return to our beginnings, revisiting the same themes and patterns throughout our lives until only the simplest threads remain. Bahrampour does a remarkable job communicating the universal through the personal. Her scope is both grand and minute: a revolution through the experience of one family, enveloping two complex places and This memoir is a combination of delighted recognition at the likeness of humans across time and space, and a sense of bittersweet comfort that, indeed, we all inevitably return to our beginnings, revisiting the same themes and patterns throughout our lives until only the simplest threads remain. Bahrampour does a remarkable job communicating the universal through the personal. Her scope is both grand and minute: a revolution through the experience of one family, enveloping two complex places and cultures. But the individual limbs of this family stretch far into history, and she tells the stories of her ancestors as intimately as the stories of her parents, her friends, and herself. She is a master of discernment, including only those memories and details that contribute to her central theme: that of belonging and displacement, loss and abundance. This was not a memoir driven by self-analysis or personal history, though both were present; rather, I walked away from this memoir feeling deeply affected by the dignity and restraint with which these worlds were constructed, letting us as readers not only see her the author and her characters, but also ourselves.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Becky

    I decided to read this book as part of my 2015 reading challenge. It is literally "A Book at the Bottom of My To-Read List." I opened my Goodreads "to read" shelf and picked the book that had been there the longest. This memoir tells the author's story of growing up in both Iran and the United States. Her father is Iranian and her mother is American so she wrote a lot about the struggles of never fully belonging either place, but each culture forming her identity. She also lived in Iran in the I decided to read this book as part of my 2015 reading challenge. It is literally "A Book at the Bottom of My To-Read List." I opened my Goodreads "to read" shelf and picked the book that had been there the longest. This memoir tells the author's story of growing up in both Iran and the United States. Her father is Iranian and her mother is American so she wrote a lot about the struggles of never fully belonging either place, but each culture forming her identity. She also lived in Iran in the beginnings of the Iranian Revolution, so the historical and political background was also interesting. I didn't particularly love this book because I've read so many similar novels and memoirs, but it was still well written, engaging, and interesting. 3.5 stars.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jeff Learned

    This is basically one woman's account of her feelings about being a half american/half Iranian. It spans her immediate family's history in Iran and America, as well as her extended family's history in Iran. The writer lived in Iran as a young girl, then moved with her family to america, then returned to Iran as a young adult. There were brief pockets of interesting information, but the book was so detailed about her day to day life from childhood to adulthood that it was ploddingly slow. It also This is basically one woman's account of her feelings about being a half american/half Iranian. It spans her immediate family's history in Iran and America, as well as her extended family's history in Iran. The writer lived in Iran as a young girl, then moved with her family to america, then returned to Iran as a young adult. There were brief pockets of interesting information, but the book was so detailed about her day to day life from childhood to adulthood that it was ploddingly slow. It also suffered from a disorganized structure. My biggest takeaways from this book are that many Iranians who fled to America during the Iranian revolution have lived dissolutioned lives here in the west. Also, Iran continues to be an oppressive place to live, especially for women.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    2.5 stars

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ponta

    If you are interested in Persian Culture.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rhode

    I have always loved the confluence of cultures you get as a first generation immigrant to another country.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Linda

  28. 4 out of 5

    Miriam

  29. 4 out of 5

    Lilli

  30. 5 out of 5

    C.C. Kraber

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