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Set in 1970s Iran during the shah's regime, this earnest, semiautobiographical debut novel is told from the perspective of bookish 17-year-old Pasha Shahed, who, along with his best friend Ahmed, plays soccer, goofs off and thinks about girls. But Pasha pines for one girl in particular-his neighbor Zari, betrothed since birth to Pasha's mentor, the neighborhood radical, Ramin Sobhi, whom everyone calls Doctor. Over a summer Ahmed orchestrates daily meetups with his own beloved, Faheemeh, and includes Pasha and Zari. Despite knowing he shouldn't, Pasha falls in love with Zari. The idyllic summer comes to an end when Doctor is abducted and killed by SAVAK, the not-so-secret police. The effects of Doctor's death on Pasha and Zari are traumatic and lead each to acts of transgression with tragic results. The prose has the simplicity of a nonnative English speaker, which could be seen as clichéd ("treasure of love," "dark winter of my life") or charmingly romantic. Seraji captures the thoughts and emotions of a young boy and creates a moving portrait of the history and customs of the Persians and life in Iran during this period. (May)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.