The Books on my shelf: Not Without my Daughter by Betty Mahmoody🔖

Books about Iran
Betty in burkha

This is the first of my new series of Books on my Shelf. Here you will find book reviews on the books I have bought and read and cherished and will never throw away. Book reviews by individuals are an excellent way of experiencing the same feelings you would if you had to read the whole story. But there’s an added advantage that the story here is a quick read and tips like rating, reader suitability, reading speed, pages and recommendations are given to lend it a more personal touch. Have fun reading my personal book reviews! This one is about Iran. 

Rating: 4/5
Suitable for: people who love to read about Middle Eastern culture, people close to their mom, people who like twists and turns in a story
Reading speed: Medium
Pages: 528
Recommendation: Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi


Betty has two options in front of her: 1. She can choose to leave Iran without her daughter Mahtob or 2. She will never be able to escape from Iran. That means a life with unpredictable Moody, never seeing her parents and sons again and an Iranian upbringing for Mahtob. What will she choose?


Betty is divorced from her first husband and has two sons. They live in the US. Betty’s aim in life is to care for her sons. But she has excruciating pain in her backside which happens frequently and refuses to go away. For that, she has to take massage regularly. That’s where she meets her future husband Moody. They fall in love and date for quite a long time. Betty’s sons like Moody too. He spoils all three of them with gifts.


Finally, they decide to take the plunge and get married. Betty gives birth to a daughter, but Moody had expected a son. Anyways, he decides to name his daughter Mahtob, against Betty’s choice of name for her daughter: Maryam. Moody’s nephew comes over from Iran to get medical treatment and stays at Moody’s place. Betty is appalled by his lifestyle: not showering for days on end, wearing the same clothes, keeping an eye on her and ordering her, etc. Meanwhile, Moody’s family in Iran has been putting pressure on him to visit them.


So Moody decides to take Betty and Mahtob to Iran. Betty is scared that once she goes to Iran, Moody won’t return back to the US. And she finds her fears turning to reality. Moody turns over a completely new leaf, imprisoning Betty in a house and taking away Mahtob from her. Betty approaches the consulate in Iran but they too can’t do much to help. Then she finds ways to get smuggled out of the country across the mountains. However, the smugglers are not ready to take Mahtob along because she is a child and may not survive the ordeal. Betty won’t leave Iran without Mahtob. But she has to think of something fast because her father in US is dying from cancer and won’t be able to hold on for long.
At last, Betty somehow manages to get smuggled across the mountains into another country. But it has not been easy for her. She has had to trust people blindly with everything, her dignity, her valuables and her and Mahtob’s life.


The book is a heartwarming tale of motherly love. It also gives a glimpse into Iranian customs and lifestyle. And Iranian patriarchy. It highlights problems in marriage and the plight of women imprisoned in Iran even now.

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