Title: Moon at Nine
Author: Deborah Ellis
Genre: Young Adult
Opening line: "You’re writing about demons." Principal Kobra’s voice was hard and humourless.
Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Farrin has many secrets. Although she goes to a school for gifted girls in Tehran, as the daughter of an aristocratic mother and wealthy father, Farrin must keep a low profile. It is 1988; ever since the Shah was overthrown, the deeply conservative and religious government controls every facet of life in Iran. If the Revolutionary Guard finds out about her mother’s ‘Bring Back the Shah’ activities, her family could be thrown in jail, or worse. The day she meets Sadira, Farrin’s life changes forever. Sadira is funny, wise, and outgoing; the two girls become inseparable. But as their friendship deepens into romance, the relationship takes a dangerous turn. It is against the law to be gay in Iran; the punishment is death.
My Thoughts: Set in Iran MOON AT NINE is a very quick read and gently approaches the subject of gay rights – in fact any rights – under a strict religious regime. Many teens in the western world take their rights for granted – scream their right to this, that or the other on electronic media, at school and in their homes. But there are millions of teens in the world that do not enjoy this freedom. Farrin is just one example. As a female she has virtually no rights, and as a female child even less. She is despised by the other children at school as she is wealthy, and her mother shows her no love at home either. Life at home may be privileged but there is no happiness. Yet against the background of her mother’s endless cocktail and dinner parties the reader is given a glimpse into real life in Tehran; the daily bombings, the oppression of the people, the indiscriminate arrests for anything resulting in torture and brutal deaths without trials. Sorry, correction, without fair trials. Farrin is a clever girl, she is a kind girl – she helps her father’s driver steal food from her mother’s kitchen to feed the poor, he in return keeps some of her secrets. Into this sad lonely life comes Sadira and Farrin blossoms at the attention she is given; there is now someone who cares for what she thinks, how she is feeling, and what her dreams are. The girls become very close then one day they kiss. A very chaste kiss, but just right for the age group this book is aimed at. Feelings like these can’t be hidden and they are so caught up in their feelings for each other that don’t see the dangers around them, still plotting their continued relationship even when they are forcibly kept apart. Then the Revolutionary Guard turn up and the two very young teens are taken off to be interrogated.
Deborah Ellis has based MOON AT NINE on a true story that was told to her by a woman she met –she has changed the names to protect the living. While it is written in an easy to read manner the subject is heart wrenching – and I just couldn’t bear to read what Farrin had to endure in the jail. At the end of the book there is a brief history of the conflicts in Iran and on the treatment of gays and lesbians that goes on even today – 4,000 gay and lesbian Iranians have been executed since 1979. In the end – I am so grateful that I can talk about my rights, that I do I have rights, and I have the right to post a cartoon on my Facebook page mocking whichever political figure has acted like an idiot today. But I am very aware that millions can’t, and hope (probably in vain) that one day all will be able to express their opinions, or follow their hearts without fear.
For more about the author – Click Here
B – Great – I really enjoyed reading it and it is a book I will be recommending to all my friends who like this genre.
With thanks to Allen & Unwin and the author for this copy to read and review. Allen & Unwin recommended retail price is $16.99