Saturday, January 30, 2016

Book Review – “My Name is Mahtob” by Mahtob Mahmoody

Two decades ago, millions of readers worldwide thrilled to the story told in the international bestseller Not Without My Daughter—subsequently made into a film starring Sally Field—that told of an American mother and her six-year-old child’s daring escape from an abusive and tyrannical Iranian husband and father. Now the daughter returns to tell the whole story, not only of that imprisonment and escape but of life after fleeing Tehran: living in fear of re-abduction, enduring recurring nightmares and panic attacks, attending school under a false name, battling life-threatening illness—all under the menacing shadow of her father.
 This is the story of an extraordinary young woman’s triumph over life-crushing trauma to build a life of peace and forgiveness. Taking readers from Michigan to Iran and from Ankara, Turkey, to Paris, France, My Name Is Mahtob depicts the profound resilience of a wounded soul healed by faith in God’s goodness and in his care and love. And Mahmoody reveals the secret of how she liberated herself from a life of fear, learning to forgive the father who had shattered her life and discovering joy and peace that comes from doing so.

-        from the book jacket of My Name is Mahtob

It's been many years since I read the book Not Without My Daughter by Betty Mahmoody, but I will NEVER forget how deeply the story affected me – Betty's true account of how her Iranian-born husband Sayed “Moody” Mahmoody held her and their preschool-age daughter Mahtob hostage in his homeland and subjected them to a life of abuse and fear churned up such anger in me that, if the copy I was reading at the time hadn't been a library book, I would have thrown it at the wall numerous times (the movie adaptation made me even angrier and to this day I cannot look at Alfred Molina, the actor who portrayed Moody, and not want to reach through the television and punch him.).

Needless to say, I had always wondered about what happened to Betty and especially Mahtob after they began to re-establish their lives in America, so when I learned that Mahtob had written her own book I couldn't wait to get my hands on a copy.

Just as I had expected, My Name Is Mahtob stirred up just as many emotions as Not Without My Daughter, only instead of getting angry, Mahtob's story brought me to tears (and ultimately caused me to feel sorry for her father who, right until his death in 2009, clung to the opinion that his wife and daughter's recollections of what happened were untrue). And while it seems unfair to say that I enjoyed this book, given its premise, I did enjoy this book – because My Name is Mahtob is not simply the seemingly tragic story of a little girl held hostage for eighteen months with her mother by her Iranian father in his homeland – it is also the victorious story of a resilient child who, BECAUSE of her father's actions, found strength, courage, and an unwavering faith in God that would help carry her into adulthood and become the intelligent, humble woman she is today.

To anyone who read Not Without My Daughter, I would highly recommend taking the time to read My Name is Mahtob because while It IS a story of heartache and trial, it is also a story of resilience – and how forgiveness can give you the strength to rise above those trials and emerge stronger than ever.

Note: This book was provided free of charge to me from BookLook/Thomas Nelson Publishers in exchange for my honest review of the text.

Get your own copy of My Name is Mahtob by Mahtob Mahmoody on Amazon.

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