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Reviewed by Natalie Soine for Readers' Favorite
The Lip Reader by Michael Thal tells the powerful story of Zhila Shirazi, the eldest of four children born to Solomon and Sara Shirazi, Jews who live in Tehran with their extended family of aunts, uncles, and cousins. Solomon owns a small pharmacy while Sara cares for the family. Zhila lost her hearing to meningitis and people with impairments are discriminated against, which adds to the difficulty of being Jewish in a Muslim country. Her greatest wish is to be blessed with a hearing aid so that she can get higher grades at school and hear what people say when not facing her directly. When political unrest strikes, the Islamic Revolution accuses Jewish people of being spies and stealing the country’s treasures. Under the laws of the new Islamic republic, Jews are restricted and brutalized unless they convert to Islam. Zhila and her family are forced to flee to America to start a new life, which proves more difficult than they anticipated. Zhila finally meets her soulmate and is faced with difficult decisions regarding her future and her health.
The Lip Reader by Michael Thal is well researched and well written with a wonderful variety of characters, places, and events. Zhila’s bravery, dedication, and determination are beautifully captured. I especially enjoyed the smooth flow of the story and the constant pace throughout, following the lives of Zhila, her friends, and her family. The novel is well edited and easy to read with vivid descriptions and scenes which make it easy for the reader to form a visual of the story. Overall, a thoroughly enjoyable novel, highly recommended.