Not without My Daughter is the kind of book that lets you lose track of the time period it took place in. If it wasn’t for the author mentioning dates every now and then in the chapters, you wouldn’t be able to realize that the story took place decades ago. Not without My Daughter is based on a true story, a story that will be able to touch the heart of any woman who reads it. The pains and sufferings that the author had to go through still linger in our society even after twenty five years of when the book was first published.
When I first bought the book, it was solely because of its catching name but later I started to lose interest in it because I had never heard of the author before; Betty Mahmoody. All and any doubts that I had about the book were gone when I reached the third chapter. The story is written so smoothly that it made me think twice about the abilities of the author. In her first book Betty is able to use just the language that grips the reader’s interest for a story that makes us want to find out more, without stopping.
The story progresses forward in a slow manner but the fact is to be kept in mind that it is an autobiography of one event that took place in the author’s life and life moves slowly when you are stuck with no means of escape. The story takes place in Iran when an American woman (Betty) marries a Shiite Iranian doctor (Mahmoody) and is gifted with the birth of a daughter (Mahtob). Mahmoody takes his wife and daughter to Iran using the excuse of a vacation and takes away their passports threatening Betty that she is to stay in Iran for the rest of her life.
A very expected turns of events for our Pakistani readers because stories of being held hostage are part of every other woman’s life. But what makes the story interesting is how a Christian American (Betty) is made to question Islam when she is put through everything in the name of religion. The men in the family beat their wives, order them around and the wives follow without a word; all in the name of Islam. Betty tries to decipher the Quran and questions everyone for her rights, which was painful to read when one realizes how a wrong picture of Islam is portrayed when events like this take place.
The environment of Iran in that time also proves to be very suffocating for Betty and she makes the readers feel it along with her. She gets many chances to escape from the country and leave for America but she had promised her five year old daughter she wouldn’t leave without her, so she doesn’t, and stays through every opportunity that didn’t include her daughter leaving with her. Their actual escape plan is the most unexpected twist in the story given how all her previous attempts kept failing. It seems like a climax taking place in real life.
Not without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody is a compelling read that will stay with the readers long after they turn the last page. The optimism of the author in the worst of situations, her dedication towards her daughter, and her questioning personality makes the readers stick to the book until the end. You won’t regret adding it to your bookshelf.