Moon at Nine

Moon at Nine

4.0 2
by Deborah Ellis

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In 1988 Tehran, teenaged girls Farrin and Sadira are sentenced to death for homosexuality. Farrin prays that her wealthy family will be able to save them before it is too late. Based on a true story.See more details below


In 1988 Tehran, teenaged girls Farrin and Sadira are sentenced to death for homosexuality. Farrin prays that her wealthy family will be able to save them before it is too late. Based on a true story.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
“Her whole life was about living with lies,” writes Ellis (the Breadwinner series) of 15-year-old Farrin Kazemi’s situation in 1988 Tehran. At home, Farrin’s mother is secretly working to remove the Ayatollah Khomeini from power, while her father takes advantage of Afghan refugees in his construction business. At school, Farrin’s every act is scrutinized by an unforgiving principal and the vindictive class monitor. Farrin writes fantasy stories to escape her highly controlled life, and she finds another ray of hope in the friendship of musician and kindred spirit Sadira, who’s new at school. The girls become romantically involved, a crime punishable by death. Inspired by the life of an Iranian woman Ellis met (“This story is essentially hers,” she notes), the novel powerfully depicts lives pulled apart by outside forces and the warmth of falling in love. A firm grounding in Iranian history, along with the insight and empathy Ellis brings to the pain of those whose love is decreed to be immoral and unnatural, make this a smart, heartbreaking pairing with Sara Farizan’s recent If You Could Be Mine. Ages 14–up. (Apr.)
CM Magazine
Basing her book on a true story, Ellis has written a heartbreaking tale of prejudice and injustice. **Highly Recommended**
Wendy Mason
"Captivating, informative, relevant and exquisite...What a stellar story, so beautifully written. I can hardly wait to feature it in my Indigo/Yorkdale department and recommend it to my teacher/parent/student clients."
Helen Kubiw
“Deborah Ellis is [an] accomplished author of social justice stories for young people, and Moon at Nine can be added to that auspicious collection…Ellis thoughtfully embeds a sliver of chaste love into [a] dispiriting world and, without contriving an unrealistic happy ending, offers a glimmer of possibility.”
Quill & Quire
Moon at Nine is a riveting tale of young girls being true to themselves and their love, set against a political and cultural backdrop few readers will have first-hand knowledge of. Ellis once again proves she is a master storyteller. Readers will remember Farrin and Sadira long after the final page has been read. Review by Ken Setteringon, author of the Stonewall Honor Book Branded by the Pink Triangle.
"Inarguably powerful... A book study guide is included and will help encourage much needed discussion.”
ALA Booklist
. . . inarguably powerful . . . .A book study guide is included and will help encourage much needed discussion.
Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center BookDragon
As more and more states strike down anti-gay marriage laws, Moon at Nine is a chilling reminder of the suffering of too many others . . . its importance is hard to deny.
Quick Brown Fox
Multi award-winning author Deborah Ellis excels in creating stories of determination in the face of adversity and social injustice. Here, she presents us with a sensitive and passionate tale based on the true life experiences . . . Beautifully told . . .
The Horn Book Magazine
Ellis skillfully introduces readers to the social and political backdrop, showing in troubling detail how fear, suspicion, and historical animosities fragment Farrin’s world and limit her freedom....Secondary characters provide fascinating windows into other perspectives and call attention to Iran’s heterogeneity, creating a multidimensional portrait of corruption and cruelty, resistance and compassion.
International Reading Association
This is a thought-provoking story inviting readers to ponder the interplay of cultural, moral, and sexual issues in different countries around the globe.
Canadian Children’s Book News
True to form, Deborah Ellis has crafted a stark, riveting and uncompromising account of life in a country and era that is markedly different from our own… Its heartbreaking and unflinching honestly will both engage readers and create heightened awareness.
49th Shelf
A story that illuminates, astounds and perhaps will grow empathy for other cultures and sexualities.
Reading Today Online
“A thought-provoking story inviting readers to ponder the interplay of cultural, moral, and sexual issues in different countries around the globe.”
Small Press Bookwatch
a deftly crafted work of fiction...An extraordinary and original novel
Skipping Stones Magazine
This novel for teens at their formative age exposes the persecution gay lovers face worldwide today.
Resource Links
an accessible text which can be enjoyed by a variety of readers due to its simple writing style. The author’s note describing the history of Iran is especially useful to those unfamiliar with this history and the subject matter of the novel is one that not only encourages individual research, but also fills a large gap in cultural LGBTQ literature.
The Ottawa Review of Books
more than simply an LGTBQ novel or historical fiction...a multi-faceted hybrid that can be enjoyed by both teens and adults...It is powerfully grounded in the setting of Tehran, and depicts the beauty of falling in love and the cruelty and coldness of power in the hands of outside forces.
Plenitude Magazine
Moon at Nine is the romantic adventure tale longed for by queer teenagers prowling the school library for stories that more closely resemble their own.
Dragon Lode International Books
In this riveting love story based on true events, Deborah Ellis transports readers to Iran in 1988 just nine years after the Islamic Revolution... Readers will find this powerful book both compelling and chilling.
Midwest Book Review
a deftly crafted work of fiction...An extraordinary and original novel
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up—The daughter of wealthy Iranian parents, 15-year-old Farrin earns top scores at a prestigious school in 1988 Tehran. Her parents remain loyal to the ousted Shah, so Farrin knows the importance of keeping a low profile. One day, Farrin meets a new classmate, Sadira, who plays forbidden music on a prohibited instrument in a closet at school. Farrin and Sadira become fast friends who enjoy subversive literature and music despite the tough restrictions imposed by the Iranian government. Before long, Farrin and Sadira's friendship morphs into a romantic relationship, for which both girls could face death. Set during the reign of Ayatollah Khomeini, this title is based on real women who fell in love in a country where homosexuality is still against the law. Sparse and eloquently written, this short historical novel is both beautiful and heartbreaking. The subject matter and writing style will appeal most to older teens and adults who likely have a better understanding of the political history of Iran. Sadira and Farrin's relationship is believable, as is the girls' undying determination to stay together at all costs. While sexuality is important to the plot, the book is relatively tame, containing no profanity and nothing beyond hand-holding and a few kisses. A four-page Author's Note provides necessary historical background and insight into worldwide persecution of homosexuals today. Give this to fans of Khaled Hosseini's A Thousand Splendid Suns (Riverhead, 2007) or Latifa's My Forbidden Face (Miramax, 2002).—Leigh Collazo, Ed Willkie Middle School, Fort Worth, TX
Kirkus Reviews
In a novel based on a true story, two teen girls fall in love and face harsh political fallout in post-revolution Iran. Readers learn the basics of 1980s Iran's political situation from context and light exposition. Farrin's family is wealthy, and her mother hosts Bring Back the Shah teas and parties with illicit alcohol. Farrin's mother discourages her from making friends, out of both fear that Farrin will reveal her secrets and an almost cartoonishly exaggerated disdain for "low-class rabble." When Farrin meets Sadira, however, the two become fast friends, and their bond soon grows. Then, just after the war with Iraq has ended and the new regime is cracking down at home, an officious class monitor catches the two girls kissing and reports them. The consequences are both chilling and tragic. The author's hands-off approach means readers hear relatively few of Farrin's thoughts or feelings about having fallen in love with another girl. Nor are they given more than the bare minimum of tools to interpret the complex power dynamics of Farrin's relationship with Ahmad, the Afghan refugee who serves as her driver. However spare, though, the portrait painted of 1980s Iran's political climate—and in particular the situation of gay and lesbian people and political prisoners—is haunting. A harsh introduction to a disturbing moment in Iran's recent history. (Historical fiction. 14-18)

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Product Details

Pajama Press
Publication date:
Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
5.90(w) x 8.50(h) x 0.80(d)
HL700L (what's this?)
Age Range:
13 - 17 Years

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