Personal choice, gender, and traditional Middle Eastern morals collide in this provocative romantic drama. Twenty-three-year-old Mahtab is a believably flawed heroine whose struggle for independence is a microcosm of Iranian society. She's a violinist seeking to escape her morally rigid father, Rasool, and violent brother, Pasha. Mahtab's life is further complicated when she reluctantly falls in love with Ashkan, an Iranian-American. Discovering that her family wishes her to marry Emad, she must choose between Ashkan and tradition amid harshly depicted escalating domestic abuse. A robust, confident style and probing characterizations highlight this startling novel that celebrates love without blinking at the pain of its protagonist. Sametipour juxtaposes violence and passion, tenderness and cruelty to startling effect. It's not your typical boy-meets-girl fantasy; here actions have consequences, and while love occasionally triumphs, it comes with a price.