Everything Sad Is Untrue

Everything Sad Is Untrue

(a True Story)

Book - 2020
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"At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls "Daniel") stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. To them he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes things up and talks about poop too much. But Khosrou's stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran in the middle of the night with the secret police moments behind them, back to the sad, cement refugee camps of Italy.and further back to the fields near the river Aras, where rain-soaked flowers bled red like the yolk of sunset burst over everything, and further back still to the Jasmine-scented city of Isfahan. But Khosrou's stories, stretching back years, and decades, and centuries, are beautiful, and terrifying, from the moment his family fled Iran in the middle of the night with the secret police moments behind them, back to the sad, cement refugee camps of Italy.and further back to the fields near the river Aras, where rain-soaked flowers bled red like the yolk of sunset burst over everything, and further back still to the Jasmine-scented city of Isfahan."--Amazon.
Publisher: New York :, Levine Querido,, 2020.
ISBN: 9781646140008
1646140001
Branch Call Number: TEEN FICTION Nayeri Daniel 08/2020
Characteristics: 356 pages :,22 cm.

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At the front of a middle school classroom in Oklahoma, a boy named Khosrou (whom everyone calls "Daniel") stands, trying to tell a story. His story. But no one believes a word he says. To them he is a dark-skinned, hairy-armed boy with a big butt whose lunch smells funny; who makes thin... Read More »

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JCLChrisK Feb 11, 2021

Magnificent.

I read a lot of books and try to write at least a short review of every one. Some of the reviews are quite lengthy. So I have written a lot of words about books and regularly visit the thesaurus to find the best ones.

I don't think I've ever used the word "magnificent"... Read More »

Michael L. Printz Award winner, for excellence in literature written for young adults


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JCLChrisK Feb 11, 2021

Dear reader, you have to understand the point of all these stories. What they add up to. Schererazade was trying to make the king human again. She made him love life by showing him all of it, the funny parts about poop, the dangerous parts with demons, even the boring parts about what makes marriages last.

Little by little, he began to feel the joy and sadness of others.

He became less immune, less numb, because of the stories.

JCLChrisK Feb 11, 2021

Reading is the act of listening and speaking at the same time, with someone you've never met, but love. Even if you hate them, it's a loving thing to do.

You speak someone else's words to yourself, and hear them for the first time.

What you're doing now is listening to me, in the parlor of your mind, but also speaking to yourself, thinking about the parts of me you like or the parts that aren't funny enough. You evaluate, like Mrs. Miller says. You think and wrestle with every word.

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JCLChrisK Feb 11, 2021

Magnificent.

I read a lot of books and try to write at least a short review of every one. Some of the reviews are quite lengthy. So I have written a lot of words about books and regularly visit the thesaurus to find the best ones.

I don't think I've ever used the word "magnificent" to describe a book before. It seems the right one for this book.

Nayeri writes this book as his twelve-year-old self sharing his story with his teacher and classmates. It is a memoir of sorts. Both fiction and nonfiction, he writes in his author's note. Most of it is based on memories of his much younger self and things he has been told by his parents and others, so he admits from the start that parts of it are sketchy, distorted, and imagined. "All Persians are liars," the book begins.

"All Persians are liars and lying is a sin.

"That's what the kids in Mrs. Miller's class think, but I'm the only Persian they've ever met, so I don't know where they get that idea.

"My mom says it's true, but only because everyone has sinned and needs God to save them. My dad says it isn't. Persians aren't liars. They're poets, which is worse.

"Poets don't even know when they're lying. They're just trying to remember their dreams. They're trying to remember six thousand years of history and all the versions of all the stories ever told."

So Daniel is a poet. A storyteller in the manner of Scheherazade, the tale spinner at the heart of 1,001 Nights. He is not telling a single tale in relating his story, but many. Each fragmentary memory from a child's perspective is its own story, mixed together with the ones he's living as an almost teen and those of his family tree, starting with his ancestors and working on down to him. He jumps around in time and place. He throws in commentary and philosophy. He adorns them with fanciful details. He includes a good measure of humor. He makes them mythic and legendary when he can. Daniel is a poet.

It's not quite right to use the literary term "unreliable narrator" for Daniel because he never aspires to be reliable. Instead he narrates the events as they exist in his heart. All the stories from his early years are larger than life because that's how they seem to the young and get exaggerated in memory. Was his family royalty in Persia or did it just feel that way to him? It's never quite clear. To Daniel they were, and that's what matters. It is true to him. He tells the dramatic, tumultuous stories of his parents and their parents and their parents, wealthy Persians all. Of how, when he was five, his mom converted to Christianity and they had to flee Iran to avoid being killed for it. His father stayed behind. He, his mom, and his older sister lived homeless in Abu Dhabi for a year and in a refugee camp in Italy for a year before winding up in Edmond, Oklahoma when he was eight. And of his experiences trying to figure out Oklahoma as an immigrant refugee student. It is a difficult, often sad journey that Daniel makes epic.

His telling of it is magnificent.

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