5 out of 5 stars
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As Azadeh Tabazadeh climbed the stage to receive her award from the American Geophysical Union in December 2001, a host of things ran through her mind, some of which revolved around her journey to get to that point in her life. Hailing from Tehran, Iran, where it was not the norm for women to excel in science owing to the numerous limitations and lack of rights, you can already tell that Azadeh's journey will be full of numerous hurdles. In The Sky Detective, Azadeh Tabazadeh commences from her time growing up in the largely unstable Iran in the 1970s, and she takes us through her early love for the field of chemistry and growing up to earn the title "The Sky Detective" after working as a scientist at NASA.
The author has expertly captured her childhood in this book while exploring themes that a lot of readers will be inspired by and find easy to relate to, including women's empowerment and self-belief. I liked how her writing perfectly illustrated her thoughts as a child, growing up with an inquisitive mind and being confused by a lot of happenings in the world, some of which revolved around the teachings of religion by her grandmother as well as women being oppressed in many facets of life. Readers will watch her find her way in the world and grow up to become an opinionated and determined teenager who has big dreams and is never afraid of taking risks. This was what made me root for her throughout her journey.
The author also captures the dark days that plagued Iran when she grew up there, going from the reign of the Shah (the frying pan) to Ayatollah Khomeini (the fire), who not only enforced oppressive laws but also executed people who spoke against him. Azadeh would learn a lot about bravery and standing up for one's rights at this point, and I enjoyed how well she applied those lessons in her life. I could feel the negative emotions that overcame her when she endured watching herself and her people being trampled upon, even contemplating death or getting killed as a better fate than living in bondage in Iran, especially with the war that broke out with Iraq.
One thing I learned from the author's story was the significance of family in life. Even though they had their differences as a family, their love and togetherness were usually evident, and her family influenced her positively in so many ways. A good example was her uncle getting her a chemistry kit that inspired her love for science at an early age and her mother setting the best example of a strong woman for Azadeh.
The story was also not short of suspense, as the author had to eventually flee her home country in 1982. She couldn't leave by normal means and would have to be smuggled out, so you already have an idea of how many things can go wrong in such a situation. What if she was caught, and what if she trusted the wrong people? You will have to pick up a copy of the book to experience this journey.
The Sky Detective is a professionally edited book as well since I did not notice a lot of errors in the text. The book will take you through a range of emotions while you get first-hand information about an interesting period in history. I did not dislike any aspect of the book and would award it the maximum rating of five out of five. History lovers will enjoy this book. I would also recommend it to people who enjoy reading memoirs.
The Sky Detective
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