Not long after I began reading Honeymoon in Tehran, I ran across a copy of Azadeh Moaveni's earlier memoir, Lipstick Jihad, in a bookstore, and bought it with no hesitation - I already knew I was going to want more of her story.
Some of the memoirs by journalists that I've read have felt more like a reporter's work than someone's own story - there's almost too much detachment. Honeymoon in Tehran does not suffer from that sense of distance. While I thought that Moaveni documented the political and social climate in post-September 11 Iran well, it felt - appropriately - like context for her own experience; she strikes an excellent balance between the personal and the political here.
Moaveni's descriptions of an Iran that has become more socially conservative in recent years are informative, and especially enlightening when she sets them against a larger historical framework. While Westerners sometimes tend to lump the "Middle Eastern" countries together, Moaveni elaborates on the ways in which Iran, whose heritage is Persian rather than Arabic, is different from its neighbors. However, while she is in the position of being able to report on Iranian developments from the inside, her purpose in this writing is to show their effects on individual lives - particularly her own, as a ethnic Iranian raised in the United States and working for an American news magazine, returned to her family's homeland by work and her own choice.
Back in Iran to report on the 2005 elections for Time Magazine, Moaveni is introduced to the man who will become her live-in boyfriend, father of her child, and husband - in that order. In a changing political and social landscape where religious values and secular habits frequently conflict, she has to learn to navigate the peculiarities of Persian weddings, prenatal care, and other details of daily life that differ significantly from her Western expectations.
I found Moaveni's story engrossing and engaging. I learned a bit about Iranian life without feeling like I was being "educated," and I was able to relate to much of her story, even though the details of our lives are very different.