Crimespree Magazine will be running the following review in their next issue. I am a happy camper.
When I first picked up this novel, I must admit I was a bit hesitant. The story revolves around an American college student named Anna, who falls in love with an Iranian student during the rise of the Islamic Republic in 1978. I assumed I was in for a thin plot laden with civics lessons and thick overtones of the oppressive nature of sharia law when it came to women’s rights. Ten pages in, I knew that all my expectations were wrong.
A BITTER VEIL does an amazing job of showing how the revolution started by good people from a solid place and steadily devolved into the horrors that many of us remember about the Ayatollahs. By showing the conflict through the eyes of an American woman, Hellmann makes the events of 1978 to 1980 relatable and chilling. While the book could easily have become just another story of female oppression, the author manages to craft something far grander.
The courtship of the two main characters is heady and ferocious. The passion that exudes from the two young lovers immediately makes us connect deeply to them. As the revolution rises, the conflict from the political upheavals echo conflicts within their relationship. The tension increases with each turn of the page as their relationship becomes as unstable as the country they are living in. The heartache and pain that so many felt at that time become all too tangible to the reader through the eyes of Anna.
Hellmann crafts a tragically beautiful story around a message that is both subtle and vibrant. The author does an amazing job of delivering her point but never by sacrificing the quality of her storytelling. Instead, the message drives the psychological and emotional conflict painting a bleak and heart wrenching tale that will stick with the reader long after they finish the book.