A Lullaby for the Dead Girl
This is an unusual book, for a number of varied reasons: first, it is based on historical facts, which date back to The Persian Constitutional Revolution in Iran.
Second, the title is a brilliant mixture of drama, horror, and social genres all in one.
Third, the dexterity of the author is visible through the delicately intricate net of characters, their backgrounds, and the information, which is presented to the readers.
And fourth (but definitely not the least), the weaving of one story inside another and this alone has created a unique taste for young adults’ literature.
Hamid Reza Shahabadi, with his immense knowledge on Iran’s history, has provided an opportunity for his audience to delve into the one of the most essential periods of this country’s history. That old days meet contemporary situation is one of the title’s prominent features, which not only makes it more relatable, but also triggers the readers’ curiosity to gather more information on the subject.
This is not a horror novel, but deals with critical subjects of each and every society on today’s world: poverty, education, adaptability to new environment, parents-children’s relationship, and how children tend to cope with their sense of loneliness and their fears of the unknown. Zohreh, the protagonist of the novel, is a teenage girl living with her parents and four brothers, in rural parts of Tehran. Her father works hard to make ends meet and rarely shows affection towards his daughter. Her mother considers her a burden to the family. Her friends call her a liar, because she claims to have met a girl, with grey hairs, and half-burnt hands, who has died one hundred years ago. She is one of the girls who were sold to other people, by their families, out of absolute poverty in a period of Iran’s history, which goes back to more than one hundred years. And now, she is wandering around in the complex that is where Zohreh, her family, and her fiends reside.
A Lullaby for the Dead Girl is free of any redundant motto or slogan, it’s plain in prose and inviting in content and this might be the result of its author’s experience as a teacher.
Shahabady started his career as a teacher when he was only 17, and continues to do so – among other responsibilities. He has written titles for adults, young adults, and even children. When 450 people live in a space designed for 3000 people, there are enough empty space for anyone to start hallucinating. Perhaps, that’s why when Zohreh, a student at the second grade of high school, told others of she had seen, they all said she’s losing it and that nobody believed her. 13
Zohereh first talked about Hakimeh with her BFF, Mina, and it all started from there. Now everybody was talking about it, without believing even one word of it. Zohreh said she knew a girl with grey hairs and half-burnt hands, who more importantly, has died one hundred years ago!