Jasmine Zumideh Needs A Win by Susan Azim Boyer | #BookReview #IranHostage Crisis #Historical #YA #CuluralDiversity

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A fresh spin on the cult-classic Election meets Darius the Great Is Not Okay in Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win when an international incident crashes into a high school election, and Jasmine is caught between doing the right thing and chasing her dream.

It’s 1979, and Jasmine Zumideh is ready to get the heck out of her stale, Southern California suburb and into her dream school, NYU, where she’ll major in journalism and cover New York City’s exploding music scene.

There’s just one teeny problem: Due to a deadline snafu, she maaaaaaybe said she was Senior Class President-Elect on her application—before the election takes place. But honestly, she’s running against Gerald Thomas, a rigid rule-follower whose platform includes reinstating a dress code—there’s no way she can lose. And she better not, or she’ll never get into NYU.

But then, a real-life international incident turns the election upside down. Iran suddenly dominates the nightly news, and her opponent seizes the opportunity to stir up anti-Iranian hysteria at school and turn the electorate against her. Her brother, Ali, is no help. He’s become an outspoken advocate for Iran just as she’s trying to downplay her heritage.

Now, as the white lie she told snowballs into an avalanche, Jasmine is stuck between claiming her heritage or hiding it, standing by her outspoken brother or turning her back on him, winning the election or abandoning her dreams for good.

Told with biting insight and fierce humor, Susan Azim Boyer’s Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win is a fresh, unforgettable story of one Iranian-American young woman’s experience navigating her identity, friendship, family, her future, and a budding romance, all set against life-changing historical events with present-day relevance.

Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing me with an advanced copy of the book.

What’s it about (in a nutshell):

Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win by Susan Azim Boyer is set in 1980 and is the story of a teen who must decide if living her dream is worth the cost of going against everything she believes in. Jasmine is half-Iranian and has to deal with the repercussions of the Iran Hostage Crisis while running for senior-class president of her high school.

Initial Expectations (before beginning the book):

I’m not sure what to expect from this read. The cover is more what you expect from a comedy. Still, the description describes some serious cultural and teen issues in the story. My initial expectation based on this is that the story will be one of those with many different aspects to it.

Actual Reading Experience:

First, I loved the period the story is set in and that the main character is half-Iranian. Hence, the events are so personal at a time when no one in this country would have even thought to look at how Persian people felt about the hostage crisis in Iran. I was very young when that crisis occurred, so I only remember tiny bits of things – like the yellow ribbons around the trees and how everyone worried about a young man from my hometown who was among the hostages. Given that opportunity to see a much fuller picture was very illuminating for me in so many different ways – some intended, I’m sure, but also some uniquely my own. I could get on my soapbox about them, but I won’t. Though, I can see this as an excellent read for a book club, especially one full of people who lived through the crisis.

I loved the romantic comedy elements in this story. The cover said “lighthearted” with its design. Even though the story covers some intense topics that make you think (or should), those lighthearted moments bring the story to life like no other aspect could or did. The romance is very innocent and genuine and definitely had me cheering for Jasmine and Mike.

Lastly, even though this is considered a YA book, there is so much that adults can and should get out of it that I can easily recommend it to the adult reader.


All the characters are so lovable and totally endearing, from Jasmine’s friends and brother to the adults in her life – especially her Iranian Aunt that takes care of Jasmine and Ali, her brother, while her mother is away visiting her own mother. Life is breathed into these characters by the very layers that make them feel authentic and genuine to the point where they entered my life and have yet to leave.

Jasmine is a teen during the late seventies/early eighties. She knows what she wants and will do anything to achieve it. She is independent, determined, and entirely, lovably headstrong – so I knew life lessons would not come easy. But boy, did I love seeing her grow because of having to take on those challenges, mess up, and pick herself back up again.

Narration & Pacing:

Jasmine tells her story in first-person narration, and I couldn’t imagine the story told any other way. This personal story is best served to readers in a very unique manner. I loved Jasmine’s voice which is so authentically a teen on the cusp of maturing into adulthood. One who sometimes makes decisions for purely selfish reasons and then at other times sees the broader picture clearly and responds with more empathy and maturity than one expects in a teen.

The pacing is overall quite fast. Sometimes it slowed for a time as events seemed to go on way too long, but I mostly sped through her senior year while pondering my thoughts on all that was happening in the story.


The setting is a high school in Southern California between 1979 and 1980. I loved the setting because it made the story much more impactful, looking at it from the eyes of a teenager who just wanted to live her dream. Something about the innocence of the characters and the authenticity of their reactions hit home with me.

Read if you like:

  • Fast-paced stories
  • coming of age stories
  • exploring cultural diversity in US history

Overall Rating: (4.83)


Writing Quality10
Character Development8
‘Couldn’t Put It Down’-ness10
Use of Setting10
All scores, except the overall rating, are on a scale of 1-10. The overall rating is converted to the standard 5-point system.

20 Replies to “Jasmine Zumideh Needs A Win by Susan Azim Boyer | #BookReview #IranHostage Crisis #Historical #YA #CuluralDiversity”

  1. I love the time period and setting. I was a teen in the 70s and lived in Southern California And my best friend was Iranian. Wow, I have to read this one!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review, Tessa! This one isn’t really my kind of read but you have a way of making everything sound enjoyable.
    Thanks for sharing! ❤

    Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s impressive.. teens are *so hard to please nowadays.
        And I can understand that. One of the best parts about reading is seeing the world through someone else’s eyes.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Wonderful depth and the cultural aspect is fascinating. You don’t realize what you don’t know until someone takes the time to show you through a story or by directly teaching. And I learned a lot!

      Liked by 1 person

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