Fleeing The Hijab by Sima Goel is the emotional true story of two teenage girls who dreamed of something better. It was the early 1980’s and Sima at the age of thirteen was protesting The repressive government in Iran. Things would get worse in her country though as a new regime came into power and living conditions became even worse for Iranian women.
Sima had seen family die, had to leave school, was being forced to wear a hijab and realized that she wouldn’t be able to live the life she wanted if she stayed in Iran. Rather than stay in the conditions she was in, she left the country she loved and trekked across the desert to Pakistan and hopefully freedom. The journey was not easy and once they escaped their predicament they became strangers in a strange land with no one to help them.
This story is a lot of different things, it’s a coming of age story, a story of courage and a tale of what it takes for some to earn their freedom. I was drawn to this book because I wondered how two girls could survive a trip across the desert and travel to a land where you knew nobody and couldn’t speak the language. Of course their lives in Iran would have been worse which leads me to one of the things that I really liked about this book.
Despite the repression that Sima felt in Iran she still talks lovingly about her homeland in this book. The way she describes her family, her home, the seasons in Iran and the fruit trees, you see that she still loves her country and feels no bitterness. Reading this made me feel bad for the Syrian refugees because like Sima they are being forced from their home. I also like the description of Iran in this book. I didn’t know a lot about that area of the world so I liked hearing Sima’s tales of growing up and her adventures as part of the three musketeers(read it and you will understand). I knew nothing about the people in Iran and hearing about Sima’s childhood made me think that she wasn’t that different from American kids in a lot of ways.
Another scene I liked was when Sima as a child is playing in a park. She starts to play with another kid that she doesn’t know and the mother of the child comes over and asks Sima’s last name. When the mother hears the name Goel she is upset with Sima and takes her child away because the child is a Muslim and Sima is Jewish. Sima is an innocent child and is crushed, she rushes home and demands that her family change their name so she doesn’t have to be embarrassed again. I loved how two young children from different religions had no problem playing together but adults who are used to living a certain way can’t accept kids from a different religion being together.
Fleeing The Hijab is about faith, family and love. Despite what looks like a hard life, Sima feels no anger and has gone on to make a better life for herself. This book is proof that someone can survive being repressed for being different and still go on to be a loving successful person and give other people hope. This book is a must read for anyone that has gone through a hard time and thought that things can’t get better.