Tag Archives: Betty Mahmoody

Book Review: Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody (3/5)

23 Dec

I’ve had this book on my radar for years. I was visiting family near Alpena, MI in 2013 and was told that the ‘Not Without My Daughter’ house was down the street. I looked into it and was fascinated/horrified by Betty’s story. I added the book to my TBR and the movie to my ‘watch’ list but it’s taken me ages to get to it.

Cover image via Goodreads

Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody

Summary from Goodreads:

In August 1984, Michigan housewife Betty Mahmoody accompanied her husband to his native Iran for a two-week vacation that turned into a permanent stay. To her horror, she found herself and her four-year-old daughter, Mahtob, virtual prisoners of a man rededicated to his Shiite Moslem faith, in a land where women are near-slaves and Americans despised. Their only hope for escape lay in a dangerous underground that would not take her child.

I have very mixed feelings on this book. On the one hand, I feel horrible for Betty. She was kidnapped by a man she trusted and kept away from her family for over a year. She was hurt, physically and emotionally. She lost her freedoms and had no one to turn to she could trust. However, this book was written in retrospect and her bias against Islam is glaring and I kept getting frustrated with some of her depictions in the book. The most memorable things are usually going to be horrible so this book was filled with the most horrible memories of a year. I’m not saying there were happy times or good times she skipped, but condensing the bad parts down and putting a hateful voice behind it is going to end in a very dark book with a strong bias.

I think Betty portrayed the people she knew in Iran as she remembered them but I’m not confident they were exactly as described. Her sister-in-law had no redeeming quality at all and I have to think there was one or two good things about her. The people who helped here were the only kind people in the story, never focusing on family members who were understanding or not out-right evil. I do think Betty did a good job of explaining how the Moody changed from when they started dating to when they were in Iran. Though I doubt his actions were so suspicious that she thought they might be trapped; I think that’s hindsight.

There wasn’t really a character I liked. Betty gives such negative descriptions of her in-laws that you don’t like any of them. Those who help her are vaguely described to protect their identities so it’s hard to connect with them. Betty was so negative that she was hard to connect with. Mahtob was too young for me to relate to. Overall, it was hard to like any person in the story.

I found the story very hard to relate to. In college, I dated a Muslim man and had such a different experience that reading this was hard for me. I had people warn me against dating someone from a conservative Muslim country and how it could never turn into anything serious. I wonder now if the cultural influence of this book had anything to do with that. My experience was overwhelmingly positive, with someone who was very respectful and caring and who I never felt forced me or pressured me to do anything or wear anything different from what I wanted to do. The reader has to remember this is one woman’s story, this isn’t a reflection of the whole culture.

Betty Mahmoody
Image via YouTube

Betty’s escape was well drawn and I liked the detail she gave. It must have been terrifying to not understand what’s being said around you as you go through the crazy, illegal, and deadly steps she took to escape the country. I felt she was very brave but I also appreciated the bravery of the men and women who helped her through such a dangerous experience. They deserve their own books.

Betty’s initial time at her sister-in-law’s house was very hard to read. She was so angry, upset, and hopeless that there was little to focus on in the story. She wasn’t leaving the house or scheming or doing anything worth focusing on. It was a bit of a slug to get through at the beginning before you got into her plans and attempts to escape.

Betty’s dedication to Mahtob is what drives this book. Many people tell her to save herself and leave Mahtob but she recognizes that Moody is not a competent father and she knows that if she leaves Mahtob, she’ll grow up in his terrible family in Iran. She’s seen unhappy Mahtob is with that life already and refuses to subject her daughter to more pain and misery. That mother-love is what makes the book so moving.

Writer’s Takeaway: There is a lot of bias in Betty’s voice. As a reader, you sympathize with her because she describes the miserable parts of her experience with such clarity and you get her feelings and reactions. I’m not saying I enjoyed it, but it’s effective. You come out of this book wanting to give Betty a year of her life back. You want good things or her and Mahtob. You come out hating Moody. However she did it, it works.

Overall, the book was compelling, but I didn’t find the writing very good and a lot of things seemed to be retrospective rather than current which was frustrating. Three out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Related Posts:
Not Without My Daughter | womenofattic

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WWW Wednesday, 4-December-2019

4 Dec

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’m back to Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley now that my vacation is over and I’m reading at lunch again. Maybe this will keep me inspired to submit my first book and keep working on my second? Maybe? I’m hoping it has some unique advice about writing for a YA audience. I’ve been missing that reading so many of these books on craft close to each other.
I started my January book club selection, Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. It’s a nice long one so I had to start early! I heard Lee speak at the Midwest Literary Walk this year and my copy is signed! Exciting.
I also started in on The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. I’m excited to wrap up my reading challenge with this one! It’s always nice to get more YA reading in, too!

Recently finished: I finished Not Without my Daughter by Betty Mahmoody on the plane home from California. It was terrifying and inspiring at the same time. I hope to watch the movie soon so I can compare the two while it’s still fresh in my mind.
I finished The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brottman once I started driving to and from work again. This made me look at convicts differently and see them the way the system looks at them. I hear a lot about prison ministries and other programs where volunteers go into prisons and I wonder if I’d be a fit for something like that. I also wonder if I have a skill worth knowing for someone in prison.

Reading Next: My next audiobook is a book club selection, Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward. I have until January to listen to it so I’m not really concerned about getting through it before I need it finished.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 27-November-2019

27 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I’ve gotten through very little Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley since I’m away from work and not reading on my lunch. I know this one will take a while so I’m not really worried about it, though. It’s one that’s OK to read in chunks since there’s not a consistent plot I have to worry about.
I think I’ll finish The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brottman pretty soon. I’ve got a few warm-weather runs that helped me get through chunks of it even without commuting for work. It should be done by next week.
I’m enjoying Not Without my Daughter by Betty Mahmoody but I can sense the bias in it very strongly. Of course, I think anyone in Betty’s situation would be incredibly biased so I don’t blame her, but it’s not even thinly veiled. I’m curious to see how this was turned into a movie. I think it will be well done.

Recently finished: Nothing here this week. Not too much of a surprise since I had three last week. I’m sure one or two will find their way here soon.

Reading Next: I still plan on reading The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee next. And I should be able to start it next week. So I guess not much has changed in my reading world in the past week.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 20-November-2019

20 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: Total changeover this week! I started reading Wild Ink by Victoria Hanley on my phone. I’ve been trying to read more writing books lately as I get ready to submit my first novel and work my way through NaNo on a second. We’ll see if this provides any help.
I was able to start The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brottman on audio. This is a shorter one than I thought so I should move through this pretty quickly. I’m looking forward to seeing how Brottman structures this book because it could concentrate on the literature or the men and I’m not sure yet what she’ll pick.
I also started Not Without my Daughter by Betty Mahmoody as planned. I’m a little early in it to make a judgment but I will say I missed reading memoirs and I’m glad to be reading one again.

Recently finished: I finished My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart a little unexpectedly. I didn’t realize so many of the final pages were not part of the text so I finished it mid-lunch one day. I was a little disappointed in this book. It wasn’t really a cookbook nor a memoir. I gave it Three out of Five Stars.
I also wrapped up Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine finally. I liked the beginning 200 pages of this book but the last 150 feel flat to me and I left it feeling disappointed. I believe it’s part of a trilogy and maybe more time should have been spent on the second half of the book and another book added to the series. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.
I also wrapped up The Mortifications by Derek Palacio and was, yet again, a little disappointed in it. The magical realism was stronger as the book went on and it was an element I wasn’t a huge fan of. I usually avoid magical realism and I didn’t realize it would so prevalent here. You may notice a trend here: I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I think it’s an audiobook I’ll need next and I’ll have to go with The Gentleman’s Guide to Vice and Virtue by Mackenzi Lee. This will help me wrap up my When Are You Reading? Challenge. I also want some more YA in my life, it’s been a while and I miss it.


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

WWW Wednesday, 13-November-2019

13 Nov

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!IMG_1384-0

The Three Ws are:

What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?

Note: For users of Blogspot blogs, I’m unable to comment on your posts as a WordPress blogger unless you’ve enabled Name/URL comments. This is a known WordPress/Blogspot issue. Please consider enabling this to participate more fully in the community. 


Currently reading: I think Eastbound from Flagstaff by Annette Valentine will be done by next week. I really enjoyed the first half of the novel but it’s slowed down for me a lot and I’m dragging a bit through the last 100 pages. I thought it would be done sooner but oh well.
I made a great surge with My Drunk Kitchen by Hannah Hart. I had a slow conference with a lot of downtime to read a silly cookbook and this was perfect because the frequent interruptions weren’t a problem. I’m optimistic about getting this one finished this month.
With just one audiobook, I’m moving through The Mortifications by Derek Palacio pretty quickly. The audiobook is well done. I’m noticing a lot of subtle magical realism elements that are often found in Hispanic literature. It’s not a favorite of mine, but I’m still enjoying it and learning a lot about Cuban culture from it, too.

Recently finished: I loved Caveat Emptor by Ruth Downie and I’m so glad there are more books in this series. I recommend this book series a lot because I think it deserves more attention than it’s gotten. It’s funny and well-plotted. I gave the book Four out of Five Stars.

I’ve only posted once since last week and thankfully it was a book review (as I’m growing behind on those). I posted my review of When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan on Thursday. I gave the book Three out of Five Stars.

Reading Next: I’m still reeling from all the free time I have to read what I want! I need to be ready with an audiobook and a physical book soon. For my audiobook, I think I’m going to listen to The Maximum Security Book Club by Mikita Brottman. I saw this one at Powell’s and talked myself out of buying it but still wanted to enjoy it eventually. It seems like now is a great time.
I’m also going to get ready with a physical book from the library. The next on my list is Not Without my Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. I’ve heard this is a crazy-true story and I look forward to enjoying it!


Leave a comment with your link and comment (if you’re so inclined). Take a look at the other participant links in the comments and look at what others are reading.

Have any opinions on these choices?

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Recently Added To My To-Read List (Part 1)

18 Nov

If you are a follower of this blog, it will come as no surprise to you that I added a total of 13 books to my to-read list since I last did an update of this type. In order to get my tired self to sleep sooner rather than later, I’m going to do this in two parts. Here are the first six.

  1. Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody. When I was in Northern Michigan visiting family, my cousins took me to the house where Mahmoody lived in Aplena. I was intrigued and decided that I had to read the book of a woman who was stuck in Iran and refused to leave (you guessed it) without her daughter.
  2. The Color Purple by Alice Walker. I forget who already, but someone told me I have to read this book. It’s a classic so I completely agreed. Funny enough, one of my co-workers told me I needed to read it last week. I guess I really need to.
  3. Empire Falls by Richard Russo. This book was yet another of the book calendar recommendations that are crowding my list. I saw that it’s an option for my library’s book club packs and the story reminded me just enough of the character I wrote during NaNoWriMo, so I thought I could call it research.
  4. Scene and Structure by Jack M. Bickham. This was recommended to me by Kristen Lamb when I had trouble understanding the elements of a scene. I hope reading it will help my writing. Thanks, Kristen!
  5. When I Crossed No-Bob by Margaret McMullan. McMullan is a professor at my alma mater and I thought it would be appropriate to check out one of her books.
  6. Abraham by Bruce Feiler. I did a post a few weeks ago about meeting Bruce Feiler. This is the book I had him sign. I’m unsure if I want to let it out of my apartment!

So there you are, my next six books added and waiting for me to commit to them by checking them out from the library. Any winners on the list? Anything that you think might be a dud? Leave a comment and let me know.

Until next time, write on.