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In fundamentalist Iran, new life sometimes means certain death. When Leila comes to see Doctor Karimi, both are in danger. Born in a slum to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Kooshyar Karimi has transformed himself into a successful doctor, an award-winning writer, and an adoring father. His could be a comfortable life but his conscience won't permit it: he is incapable In fundamentalist Iran, new life sometimes means certain death. When Leila comes to see Doctor Karimi, both are in danger. Born in a slum to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Kooshyar Karimi has transformed himself into a successful doctor, an award-winning writer, and an adoring father. His could be a comfortable life but his conscience won't permit it: he is incapable of turning away the unmarried women who beg him to save their lives by ending the pregnancies that, if discovered, would see them stoned to death. One of those women is 22-year-old Leila. Beautiful, intelligent, passionate, she yearns to go to university but her strictly traditional family forbids it. Returning home from the library one day – among the few trips she's allowed out of the house – she meets a handsome shopkeeper, and her fate is sealed. Kooshyar has rescued countless women, but Leila seeks his help for a different reason, one that will haunt him for years afterwards and inspire an impossible quest from faraway Australia. Spellbinding and heartbreaking. Leila's Secret shows us everyday life for women in a country where it can be a crime to fall in love. But for all its tragedy, this unforgettable book is paradoxically uplifting, told from the heart of Kooshyar's immense sympathy, in the hope that each of us – and the stories we tell – can make a difference.


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In fundamentalist Iran, new life sometimes means certain death. When Leila comes to see Doctor Karimi, both are in danger. Born in a slum to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Kooshyar Karimi has transformed himself into a successful doctor, an award-winning writer, and an adoring father. His could be a comfortable life but his conscience won't permit it: he is incapable In fundamentalist Iran, new life sometimes means certain death. When Leila comes to see Doctor Karimi, both are in danger. Born in a slum to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Kooshyar Karimi has transformed himself into a successful doctor, an award-winning writer, and an adoring father. His could be a comfortable life but his conscience won't permit it: he is incapable of turning away the unmarried women who beg him to save their lives by ending the pregnancies that, if discovered, would see them stoned to death. One of those women is 22-year-old Leila. Beautiful, intelligent, passionate, she yearns to go to university but her strictly traditional family forbids it. Returning home from the library one day – among the few trips she's allowed out of the house – she meets a handsome shopkeeper, and her fate is sealed. Kooshyar has rescued countless women, but Leila seeks his help for a different reason, one that will haunt him for years afterwards and inspire an impossible quest from faraway Australia. Spellbinding and heartbreaking. Leila's Secret shows us everyday life for women in a country where it can be a crime to fall in love. But for all its tragedy, this unforgettable book is paradoxically uplifting, told from the heart of Kooshyar's immense sympathy, in the hope that each of us – and the stories we tell – can make a difference.

30 review for Leila's Secret

  1. 4 out of 5

    Simone

    When I first started reading this book I thought it was a work of fiction (albeit based on factual details about Iranian society). It wasn't until I researched the author a little further that I realised it was in fact a memoir based on Kooshyar Karimi's real experiences as a doctor in fundamentalist Iran in the 1980s and 1990s. The main reason I thought it was fiction was because it is told in two voices, that of Dr Karimi and a young woman named Leila. Dr Karimi has written both parts but give When I first started reading this book I thought it was a work of fiction (albeit based on factual details about Iranian society). It wasn't until I researched the author a little further that I realised it was in fact a memoir based on Kooshyar Karimi's real experiences as a doctor in fundamentalist Iran in the 1980s and 1990s. The main reason I thought it was fiction was because it is told in two voices, that of Dr Karimi and a young woman named Leila. Dr Karimi has written both parts but gives an authentic voice to Leila given that he knew her story so intimately. Most of us have knowledge of fundamentalist Iran and the severe restrictions it places on women. Still it is difficult to fathom just what a different life I would lead had I been born there. Simple everyday things such as the right to a full, unbiased education, the freedom to move away from my family home and experience any lifestyle I desired and ultimately being able to choose my own life partner (or not should I not find one I loved enough to marry). Most frighteningly though should I have ever found myself pregnant outside marriage I would have faced the possibility of being stoned to death for the sin of bringing shame to my family. Kooshyar himself suffered many injustices in his life as the son of a Jewish single mother in a Muslim country and had to jump many hurdles to ultimately complete a medical degree. He did not set out to become an illegal abortionist, but the job somehow found him through first one acquaintance, then another and another as his name was passed around to others desperate enough to seek his services. In each case Kooshyar is told it is a matter of life and death. Should the young unmarried woman in question not undergo an abortion she will have no other choice than to kill herself. Each abortion is fraught with risk and not only because the procedure itself is illegal. Kooshyar can only undertake the operation in private homes, far from medical equipment should it be required. Many times he is unsure whether or not his patient will survive. Leila is a young woman severely frustrated with her life. Forbidden from studying to become a teacher like she dreams of, she snatches small pockets of freedom by visiting the library. It is during one of those brief unsupervised excursions that she meets a handsome shopkeeper who ignites a passion in Leila that she never knew existed. This liaison sets Leila on a treacherous path that ultimately sees her meeting Kooshyar, but for a different reason that touches the young doctor deeply and ultimately changes his life. Leila's Secret is an amazing story, as equally compelling as it is unfathomable (that this could happen in the late twentieth century). Kooshyar Karimi is a natural storyteller with a very easy to read style, despite the difficult subject matter. I immediately found myself fully invested in both stories, knowing that they must intersect at some point but surprised in the way they ultimately did. The book shines a light on a way in which women and their bodies have (and continue) to be abused and controlled, yet also demonstrates that good people exist everywhere and will put themselves at risk to help others.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jenny

    Beautifully written, despite my initial misgivings about the book's cover (yet another dramatically veiled woman, because hey, that sells well in the West). Dr. Karimi and Leila's story is one that needs to be heard. Context Note, however, that their story needs to be heard in context. We're talking predominantly about impoverished areas in the 1990s where people's survival revolved around violence, inflicted either by the authoritarian government or by those in their own communities -- a grim si Beautifully written, despite my initial misgivings about the book's cover (yet another dramatically veiled woman, because hey, that sells well in the West). Dr. Karimi and Leila's story is one that needs to be heard. Context Note, however, that their story needs to be heard in context. We're talking predominantly about impoverished areas in the 1990s where people's survival revolved around violence, inflicted either by the authoritarian government or by those in their own communities -- a grim situation that is unfortunately found throughout the world. My fear, though, is that some people will read this book and blanket-blame the Iranian people, or Shia Islam in particular, or Islam in general. Such generalizations are superficial and counterproductive, and I believe they go against the author's intentions. Forgiveness and Tolerance I liked what Dr. Karimi wrote in his Author's Note at the beginning of the book: "I have written this book in the hope that one day we will start tolerating and stop tormenting; in the belief that if we learn to forgive, freedom will come." After all he's been through, he still chooses to believe in sentiments like that, and I admire him for it. He knows that effective reform isn't achieved through hatred. Health of the Imagination One aspect of this book that surprised me was its insight into the imagination. For some people, like Azita, the rigidness of their lives blunted their creativity to the point where they could not change, because "if you want to do something that takes you away from the customary role our culture dictates, you have to first be able to imagine it. And Azita [and people like her] cannot." Meanwhile, other people, like Hamid, were driven mad by their imaginations, which had been repressed until they reached the breaking point. It really makes you wonder about the state of your own mind and what your own cultural blindspots are. In Search of Women's Voices I also wondered how different the book would be if Leila could tell her story in her own words. What would she choose to emphasize? How would our understanding of the characters change? I ask because once again, we're not hearing from women directly. Doing that isn't possible in this case, I guess, but it's worth remembering that in a book filled with women, not one speaks directly for herself; they all speak through the filter of Dr. Karimi's memories. Overall, this book is a heartfelt contribution to the greater human rights narrative, and it's well worth the read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Jess Dumitro

    This book gets better and more intense as you read on. It really opened my mind to other cultures in this world. Was a great read and I finished the last half of the book in a day because I couldn't put it down. This book gets better and more intense as you read on. It really opened my mind to other cultures in this world. Was a great read and I finished the last half of the book in a day because I couldn't put it down.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kirra

    An absolutely amazing story that had me in tears. An excellent non fiction read that has really made me appreciate living in Australia.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    A powerful and important story. It took a while to get into the story, with the most intriguing part in the last 70 or so pages. I also found the doctor’s chapters, while still informative and important, rather repetitive to the point where even most of the starting sentences were similar (it was a hot June/July/summer day). However, I did enjoy Leila’s chapters a lot. There were almost always new events or a feeling of tension created. The chapters from her perspective really pulled the book toge A powerful and important story. It took a while to get into the story, with the most intriguing part in the last 70 or so pages. I also found the doctor’s chapters, while still informative and important, rather repetitive to the point where even most of the starting sentences were similar (it was a hot June/July/summer day). However, I did enjoy Leila’s chapters a lot. There were almost always new events or a feeling of tension created. The chapters from her perspective really pulled the book together. Overall, while I thought it could’ve been pared down a bit, I would highly recommend reading it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Karene Atkinson

    This book was a page turner and very hard to put down. The reader is drawn into the lives of the doctor and the young woman Leila. We are made aware of the complex and unfair system that chain women to a life that most do not want, with no voice to say no, I want more, I want to be heard, I want to be of value. Then when the last page is reached, the reader is left wanting more. A great book.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Zoe

    Lies, lies and more LIES! I've got to say I as a muslim was offended by this book. I was very interested in this book just to see how this poor girl suffered and all the other girls as well but I noticed that the writer's message was much bigger than that. All he wanted to do was to show that islam is a barbaric religion. So much exaggeration was in this book that at times I felt like laughing because I've been to Iran and I have family there and never ever did I see or hear anything like what h Lies, lies and more LIES! I've got to say I as a muslim was offended by this book. I was very interested in this book just to see how this poor girl suffered and all the other girls as well but I noticed that the writer's message was much bigger than that. All he wanted to do was to show that islam is a barbaric religion. So much exaggeration was in this book that at times I felt like laughing because I've been to Iran and I have family there and never ever did I see or hear anything like what he wrote in his book. If you're a jew good for you but don't try to insult other religions (indirectly).

  8. 5 out of 5

    Andrew Lucas

    'Leila's Secret' is an alarming and enlightening read. It is a difficult story to face at times, as the reader confronts the perilous existence of an Iranian doctor who secretly performs illegal abortions and one of his patients, a young woman who falls for a man on her brief excursions outside a closeted existence at home. Both face death if caught. Karimi's use of first person narrative is a bit disconcerting, and the final pages, in which he brushes over his capture and eventual escape from Ir 'Leila's Secret' is an alarming and enlightening read. It is a difficult story to face at times, as the reader confronts the perilous existence of an Iranian doctor who secretly performs illegal abortions and one of his patients, a young woman who falls for a man on her brief excursions outside a closeted existence at home. Both face death if caught. Karimi's use of first person narrative is a bit disconcerting, and the final pages, in which he brushes over his capture and eventual escape from Iran leaves the impression that therein lies another book.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Vanessa Mozayani

    When I selected this book, I thought it was a work of fiction. This book tells of the life of the author who was a doctor whilst living in Iran. It is written like a work of fiction with alternating chapters of the Doctor and Leila. It was terrifying and heartbreaking.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Joanne

    I Saw Dr. Karimi on the Adelaide Writers Week early this year. His story moves me, his humbleness inspire me. If what i thought i experienced on his sessions on ADLWW, it is just a start. reading of this book brings things to new prospective. This is a true story, or stories of Iranian girls, ladies, and women that have unwanted pregnancy through love, luss, or mostly, through the power and domination of men. It is a storry on how an inocent 22 years old girl Leila falls in love with a man, and I Saw Dr. Karimi on the Adelaide Writers Week early this year. His story moves me, his humbleness inspire me. If what i thought i experienced on his sessions on ADLWW, it is just a start. reading of this book brings things to new prospective. This is a true story, or stories of Iranian girls, ladies, and women that have unwanted pregnancy through love, luss, or mostly, through the power and domination of men. It is a storry on how an inocent 22 years old girl Leila falls in love with a man, and how she end up being rape by this man, and fall pregnantt before marriage. It is also a story about strength, hope, and how unconditional a mother's love can be for their child. It is a story about the conflicting ethical world of Dr. Karimi as a medical profession, and a husband and father. and how the constent fight within him, to him and his family to stay safe, as termination of pregnancy is a no-no in Iran, even till this very day. It is a book that look in to the societal issues of such country, how when religious and politics overtake the control of huminity. It is not a lite read, but is definitely a book that will make one stop and think, and ponder on issues that seems so simple, but yet, so solym...

  11. 5 out of 5

    Ilyhana Kennedy

    This is a work of non-fiction and possibly an important documentation, told in story form, of the plight of women living under the brutality of fundamentalist Islam in Iran. The story is told by a doctor who eventually fled Iran to live in Australia. The content can be hard going but for readers who want to know, it's an education. I found the last pages riveting, as he told the story in précis form of the rest of his life 'after Leila'. Incredible. This is a work of non-fiction and possibly an important documentation, told in story form, of the plight of women living under the brutality of fundamentalist Islam in Iran. The story is told by a doctor who eventually fled Iran to live in Australia. The content can be hard going but for readers who want to know, it's an education. I found the last pages riveting, as he told the story in précis form of the rest of his life 'after Leila'. Incredible.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Summer Faraj

    I have not read a good story in such a long time! Then I came across this one and I get excited everytime I get a minute to read!! What a story!! I wish there was more he knew about Leila and Zahra and where they have ended up! Maybe a sequel when he does find her!! This is definitely one of my top 3 favourite stories!

  13. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    When it comes to this book I would be hard pressed to say it is an enjoyable read. It is however worthy of our time and patience. This for me is one of those books that expand our knowledge of the world we live in on a subject matter there is no other way I could have come across. There are certain fundamental rights that we so take for grant that it is hard to imagine a world without them. But as recent events in the U.S have shown us they can so easily be taken away. One of these I would hope When it comes to this book I would be hard pressed to say it is an enjoyable read. It is however worthy of our time and patience. This for me is one of those books that expand our knowledge of the world we live in on a subject matter there is no other way I could have come across. There are certain fundamental rights that we so take for grant that it is hard to imagine a world without them. But as recent events in the U.S have shown us they can so easily be taken away. One of these I would hope for is the right for a women over her own body. But as I delved into this book It becomes apparent very quickly that this is something a lot of women in Iran at the time of this books writing don't have. I can't say if it is any different know as there is little places to go looking for this information. It is also a world of double standards which I think is something that does have a coloration to the place I call home. Why is it that a woman must remain a virgin to her wedding night but not so for the man. This book was one of the hardest I have read in quite a while. At no point did I feel I was being sugar-coated. This becomes all too apparent in the first few chapters as we are introduced to the doctor. He describes in no uncertain terms what it is like to have an abortion in Iran. It is painful to read let alone go through. It feels just as relevant now as it was at the time of writing. The events described in the book may have taken place in the past but it still proves one thing. If you ban abortion it will not stop it happening it just pushes it deeper underground. The doctor for his part does all he can for each of the women who come knocking at his door. He is a man who cares deeply for the situation each of them finds themselves in but with the threat of death over his head and each of these women, it is a hard struggle to go through. But this is a book of two halves and it would hardly be fair to only speak of the doctor when the book bears another's name as it's title. Leila is someone who is full of her own secrets and the weight she carries is one I can't begin to comprehend. It is through her that we get to learn of the life of women under such a strict regime. They have no rights, and freedom is taken away from them at birth. They are brought up with the expectation that they will be good and faithful wives, no more no less. Any thoughts of making more of themselves is cast aside. And while some have fought for a better place in their world they would appear to be few and far between. And they are left to lead a careful life so as not to step too far out of line. Sometimes I think we forget just how much freedom we have. This book will not be for everyone, It is not the sort of thing you can read in just one sitting. I put it down more times than I can count so as I could process the things I was reading about. But it is enlightening. It gives us some insight into the struggle of women around the world and that there is still a fight that continues. For some the will not agree with what the doctor does on religious or moral grounds. The thought of abortion for them is abhorrent. But as time has tried to tell us time and again this will happen and it will continue to. So surely it is better than it is done safely. These are two people I have the greatest respect for, the insurmountable odds they went through should not be taken lightly.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Claude

    A good biography mainly about 2 specific people who spent all or most of their lives in Iran. The book records events happening mostly in postthe 1979 regime change. It was a good book to read to acquaint myself with more knowledge about how quotidian life is for the majority of the citizens of Iran, and a lot of my presumptions and naivety about what I pesimistically thought Iran would be like as an everyday citizen having to deal with their barbaric laws which has helped turned many of their c A good biography mainly about 2 specific people who spent all or most of their lives in Iran. The book records events happening mostly in postthe 1979 regime change. It was a good book to read to acquaint myself with more knowledge about how quotidian life is for the majority of the citizens of Iran, and a lot of my presumptions and naivety about what I pesimistically thought Iran would be like as an everyday citizen having to deal with their barbaric laws which has helped turned many of their citizens barbaric and out of order as well. State sponsered religion will do that to individuals and whole countries, and Iran is a predominantly muslim nation that has let its national focus on Islam ruin the whole country for the majority of citizens (both Muslim and non-Muslim). I recognise that the Islamic faith isn't the only dominant religion to ruin a whole country; another good is example is how the predominantly Jewish Israel, has ruined Israel's citizens from becoming a nation more loving and compasssionate towards anyone not Jewish; Jews are equally as prejudiced as Muslims (and soemtimes worse), in a lot of examples I can think of but wob't name here. These are just some quick notes until I write a proper review later. I just wanted to briefly outline the themes of why I read this book, and in the future why it might be valuable to me as a source if I want to use to quote, paraphrase or inspire some of my own fiction and/or nonfiction writings in the future. So whilst I think 3 or 3.5 stars out of 5 is accurate of how interesting this book was to me, this book deserves more than just these scrappy and trashy notes I've taken here, and I don't think this review will be of use to anyone else but me, because of what I said earlier - I use goodreads (sometimes) as a place to list books I've read and brief notes on the titles, and it's not always something I expect anyone else to read and gain too much knowledge, wisdom or importance from after reading this review. Of course if I can help anyone by answering some questions about the book and my opinion of the book or it's subject matter, I'm more than happy to answer any questions, I just can't gurantee I'll be of much use to anyone thinking of reading this book, although I did read the book recently and have read the whole thing quite slowly and it was what I call one of my own style in-depth reads of this book and it's subject matter to better inform my own knowledge of certain subjects. So yeah I also haven't proof read these notes or put them through spell check, sorry! When I clean this description up at a later date I will do this and take more care, but I know not when that will be, and I'll also write more of a proper review. Sorry. Love you all!.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Zamira (bookishzamira)

    SYNOPSIS: "Born in a slum to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Kooshyar Karimi has transformed himself into a successful doctor, an award-winning writer, and an adoring father. His could be a comfortable life but his conscience won't permit it: he is incapable of turning away the unmarried women who beg him to save their lives by ending the pregnancies that, if discovered, would see them stoned to death" One of the women he has come across is 22-year-old Leila. Leila dreams of going to universi SYNOPSIS: "Born in a slum to a Muslim father and a Jewish mother, Kooshyar Karimi has transformed himself into a successful doctor, an award-winning writer, and an adoring father. His could be a comfortable life but his conscience won't permit it: he is incapable of turning away the unmarried women who beg him to save their lives by ending the pregnancies that, if discovered, would see them stoned to death" One of the women he has come across is 22-year-old Leila. Leila dreams of going to university one day but her strictly traditional family forbids it. One her way home from the library one day, she meets a shopkeeper and so the beginning of Leila's secret. Dr. Karimi has helped many women, but Leila needs his help for a different reason, one that will stay with him for years. MY Thoughts: This story is told mainly from Dr. Karimi where he is voicing his role and then ultimately the voice of Leila, since he grew to know her so well and as she confided in him. Following Leila and then Dr. Karimi's stories leads to so much heartbreak for both. It at first can feel like a fiction novel, obviously based on some fact of life for woman in this period of time in Iran, until you learn about Kooshyar Karimi and realise this is based on him and one of his 'patients'. Leila's journey was so intense. She has so much hope for her future but was held back by her families 'values'. Once Leila met the handsome shop keeper her story and her fate were changed. It was so suspenseful trying to see where Leila would go from here. Leila asked the help of Dr. Karimi, a help that the Dr. didn't usually give. Dr. Karimi's story was different. He grew up in a Muslim town to a single Jewish mother and felt backlash from that alone throughout his life. You hear his life journey and how he had to overcome it. His path crosses with Leila's and gives us the story behind Leila's secret. It's a real eye opener to how life may still be for some and how privileged we are to live in a modern world. I strongly recommend you read this book. It's so hard to put down once you start!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Georgia

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. This was a book that I could not put down. Leila's Secret was a book like no other that I have read which was both confronting and sad yet it still managed to create faith in the kindness of some people. It also brings a lot of awareness of Iranian culture and that there is still good in the world despite the bad. Karimi is a brave man who risked everything to help those women in unfortunate circumstances. Karimi made it his life's work to perform abortions on women who have found themselves preg This was a book that I could not put down. Leila's Secret was a book like no other that I have read which was both confronting and sad yet it still managed to create faith in the kindness of some people. It also brings a lot of awareness of Iranian culture and that there is still good in the world despite the bad. Karimi is a brave man who risked everything to help those women in unfortunate circumstances. Karimi made it his life's work to perform abortions on women who have found themselves pregnant, on the side of running his own medical practice and completing military service as a doctor. Some were prostitutes, some were victims of rape and others were simply victims of falling in love outside of marriage. During this time, a woman in Iran found to be pregnant outside of marriage risked punishment of death and in more rural areas it was not uncommon for the murder to be performed by a male relative. Karimi bravely carried out abortions for many women, for the sake of saving their lives despite the risk to his own life. I really felt sympathy for Karimi as there is a blurred line in deciding if his actions were good or bad. He was essentially ending one life in order to keep another alive. He was torn between his wife's morals and the government versus his own moral judgement. The other voice of this story was of Leila, a 21 year old woman who found herself pregnant after the betrayal by a man she loved and trusted. Leila came from a strict Muslim family and knew that her brothers would kill her if they found out. Leila was simply infatuated with a man who deceived her to believe that he was in love with her and that they had some kind of future together. Little did Leila know that he was a married man with a child. Hamid raped Leila when she asked him to stop and after this encounter she became pregnant. Overall this was a great book.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Nadia N

    Leila’s heart-breaking story was both moving and horrific. The way her thoughts have been laid bare, often at times relatable, had me gripped throughout. The doctor's encounters; his struggle to do the right thing and clear his conscious despite the imminent threat of an early death, were admirable - this is a true story after all! However, what irked me incessantly while reading this, is the author’s singular narrative that Islam is backward. His references to how women had limited rights in Isl Leila’s heart-breaking story was both moving and horrific. The way her thoughts have been laid bare, often at times relatable, had me gripped throughout. The doctor's encounters; his struggle to do the right thing and clear his conscious despite the imminent threat of an early death, were admirable - this is a true story after all! However, what irked me incessantly while reading this, is the author’s singular narrative that Islam is backward. His references to how women had limited rights in Islam, no permission for divorce, the incorrect linkage of honour killings to the religion and its constant portrayal throughout the book as a barbaric and backward way of life with no place in modern Iranian society, was categorically offensive. The book is placed in fundamentalist Iran in the 1980s and 1990s. What the author fails to mention is how majority of these atrocities were committed due to the extremist laws and prohibitions laid down during the Iranian revolution, which are far from authentic Islamic teachings. As a Muslim, I found this biased and inappropriate portrayal of Islam deeply upsetting. It’s interesting to note how the author’s constant reference to his Jewish beliefs have cunningly been highlighted in a positive light. What’s important to bear in mind, is practices that constitute culture are starkly different to what Islam teaches. In countries such as Iran, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and the Middle East etc. the substantial amalgamation of culture with religion erases these boundaries and causes confusion in people, both those that practice and those that critique. All in all, a very engaging and interesting read, providing an eye opener into the complications of an oppressive Iranian society of the 1990’s.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Miney Tan

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Leila’s secret opened my mind to see a different world, in this world women were treated with injustice, oppressed and without freedom and more. Even thought I’ve heard of such world exist but I can’t image what it was like until I read this book. A young girl and a half Jewish doctor who lived in fandamentalist Iran, their connection through a miscarriage and he was touched by her’s choice. During his doctor career in Iran, Mr. Karimi secretly known as a miscarriage operator who saved so many wome Leila’s secret opened my mind to see a different world, in this world women were treated with injustice, oppressed and without freedom and more. Even thought I’ve heard of such world exist but I can’t image what it was like until I read this book. A young girl and a half Jewish doctor who lived in fandamentalist Iran, their connection through a miscarriage and he was touched by her’s choice. During his doctor career in Iran, Mr. Karimi secretly known as a miscarriage operator who saved so many women by giving them abortion, all these women have different reasons to do the surgery to survive, every surgery Doctor Karimi give these women another chance not to sentence to death by stone and bring him potential risks to death. Ended a life to saved another, so ironic. How horrible is this world, women was treated as an object, yet more scary thing is a lot of women accepted it as normal. It remind me of the world that I live in with, even the situation is different and less serious but the concept is similar. How many bias we consider is normal, how many mistreat we consider as natural. Yet the world is so dirty I am glad that there are still someone never give up or accepted as it is, they fight not just for themselves but for other’s sake. The most precious thing is, after all he’s been through, Doctor Karimi still believes tolerance and the power of forgiveness. A man with pure heart. I admire him deeply.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Dianna Applebaum

    A very moving and impassioned work, blurring the lines between fiction, non-fiction and autobiography. Told from two points of view, Karimi takes liberties with the telling of Leila's story. A Doctor who has faced the atrocities of Iran and on many occasions looked death in the face to assist women with unwanted pregnancies, must find in the telling some solace of this previous life. I have also read 'I confess' a few years ago after he attended a local book festival. A quiet and humble man who ha A very moving and impassioned work, blurring the lines between fiction, non-fiction and autobiography. Told from two points of view, Karimi takes liberties with the telling of Leila's story. A Doctor who has faced the atrocities of Iran and on many occasions looked death in the face to assist women with unwanted pregnancies, must find in the telling some solace of this previous life. I have also read 'I confess' a few years ago after he attended a local book festival. A quiet and humble man who has endured more than any human should. These stories need to be told, people need to know of the tyranny and oppression facing humanity, in particular women and other minorities. It explains why people flee there land in the hope of freedom. On a purely evaluative level, this book, much like 'I confess', is extremely repetitive and takes to the last few pages to get to the point and then rushes through what could be an exciting escape. I am left with the feeling it is done this way to make way for another book. I found the repetition of language and words, especially the use of medical/bodily phrasing during the termination procedure a bit contrived, but I get why he did it.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Raz

    This book is told in alternating chapters between Leila and the doctor who helps her, and you get a really good sense of what life is like in Iran from two very different perspectives. It's written in a very dry style without a lot of expressive language, which admittedly put me off a bit at first. When Dr Karimi is talking about Iran's recent history or the struggles that Iranian women face, it can come across a bit like a wikipedia entry rather than the narrative of an actual person. Once I go This book is told in alternating chapters between Leila and the doctor who helps her, and you get a really good sense of what life is like in Iran from two very different perspectives. It's written in a very dry style without a lot of expressive language, which admittedly put me off a bit at first. When Dr Karimi is talking about Iran's recent history or the struggles that Iranian women face, it can come across a bit like a wikipedia entry rather than the narrative of an actual person. Once I got used to it though, this book really made an impact. It really brings home just how oppressive life is there for the women whose sole purpose in life is to serve men, and for men like Dr Karimi who want things to change but risk imprisonment or death for even trying. I would definitely recommend this book; there's not really a happy ending but there's an optimism in the goodness of the people this story's about which prevents it from just being dire and miserable (having said that, you might need tissues before the end)

  21. 4 out of 5

    Robyn Gibson

    The second of Kooshyar Karimi's books that I've read. This is about his life but mainly about Leila, a young Iranian girl who is the youngest sister in her family. She would love to go to university and see the world or find a man she loves instead of one who is chosen for her by her parents. Her family is incredibly strict and her life revolves around chores and being at the beck and call of her horrible brothers. She is rarely allowed outside the house and when she is able to go she is chapero The second of Kooshyar Karimi's books that I've read. This is about his life but mainly about Leila, a young Iranian girl who is the youngest sister in her family. She would love to go to university and see the world or find a man she loves instead of one who is chosen for her by her parents. Her family is incredibly strict and her life revolves around chores and being at the beck and call of her horrible brothers. She is rarely allowed outside the house and when she is able to go she is chaperoned by her sister. When she had the opportunity to be alone on the rare trip to the library she passes a man who is standing outside his boutique. Firstly it is a smile then she gets a little braver and enters his shop. He is an opportunist and takes advantage of Leila which puts her in the most horrific predicament she could ever imagine. A really well written and interesting book by Kooshyar Karimi.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Bec Begg

    Maybe 2.5 stars, rounded up. I enjoyed this book because it furthered my understanding on the female position in Iran. I was particularly fascinated (well, horrified) by the reference to ‘sigha’ (an agreement whereby a man can sleep with a woman for a specified time - whether hours or years - for a sum of money) as a legal form of prostitution. I had not heard of this before. I found that the chapters written from the doctor’s position (the autobiographical element) to be less enjoyable than thos Maybe 2.5 stars, rounded up. I enjoyed this book because it furthered my understanding on the female position in Iran. I was particularly fascinated (well, horrified) by the reference to ‘sigha’ (an agreement whereby a man can sleep with a woman for a specified time - whether hours or years - for a sum of money) as a legal form of prostitution. I had not heard of this before. I found that the chapters written from the doctor’s position (the autobiographical element) to be less enjoyable than those from Leila’s perspective. It seemed very biased and like he was “selling his story”. I really enjoyed the fiction elements written from Leila’s perspective - both due to the style of writing and probably because I felt less manipulated by what was being disclosed

  23. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Cotter

    I really enjoyed this book. It was a riveting story told with the compassion of someone living within a regime they neither fit in nor support. I suspect there are a few foibles associated with a memoir going on in this non-fiction book. It reads like a novel. This speaks the the author’s skill writing and also informs my suspicion that he has embellished the story to suit himself. I really enjoyed it anyway. This is a book written with 2 main characters and 2 voices. Kooshyar and Leila. My only I really enjoyed this book. It was a riveting story told with the compassion of someone living within a regime they neither fit in nor support. I suspect there are a few foibles associated with a memoir going on in this non-fiction book. It reads like a novel. This speaks the the author’s skill writing and also informs my suspicion that he has embellished the story to suit himself. I really enjoyed it anyway. This is a book written with 2 main characters and 2 voices. Kooshyar and Leila. My only gripe is that it’s “Leila’s Secret,” but the book is really all about Kooshyar. He imagines her reasoning and voice based on a single meeting and a letter. That is why it’s not a 5 star read for me. That is a small gripe for a compelling read.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gizelle

    Hands down one of my all time favourite books - and thats coming from someone with an entire library in her room! This book is so well written, you cant help but feel that you are actually Leila herself. Finished it in 2 days, could not put the book down! One night I was reading when I looked at my watch and realised it was already 7am! Really takes you into the lives of many women who are unfortunately born in a mans world where they have no voice. This book really gave Leila and many, many othe Hands down one of my all time favourite books - and thats coming from someone with an entire library in her room! This book is so well written, you cant help but feel that you are actually Leila herself. Finished it in 2 days, could not put the book down! One night I was reading when I looked at my watch and realised it was already 7am! Really takes you into the lives of many women who are unfortunately born in a mans world where they have no voice. This book really gave Leila and many, many other women a voice. If you want to read an amazing book that will have you thinking about it for years to come - get a hold of this. 12 out of 10! Truly inspirational, amazing and beautiful.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Steve Worsley

    How does a man who can write like this and who is also a highly skilled doctor, manage to find himself living on the street for two periods of his life?! This is an extraordinary story that I felt privileged to read. I'm left wondering whether it reflects present day Iran as a whole or whether it just represents that country's conservative element. The doctor's own story is at least as striking as that of Leila. But I love how even at the end he emphasises her story over his own, thus keeping the How does a man who can write like this and who is also a highly skilled doctor, manage to find himself living on the street for two periods of his life?! This is an extraordinary story that I felt privileged to read. I'm left wondering whether it reflects present day Iran as a whole or whether it just represents that country's conservative element. The doctor's own story is at least as striking as that of Leila. But I love how even at the end he emphasises her story over his own, thus keeping the main thing in view: Iran's treatment of women. I was struck by how much like a prison regular life was for people like Leila. When people say 'It's a man's world', here in the West... well ...

  26. 5 out of 5

    Cheryl Cai

    Hard to put down and horrific in parts (because the stories and medical circumstances described are based on facts), this is an impressive book based on the author's experiences. The writing isn't exquisite, but the stories, though simply told, are compelling and speak for themselves. The stories offer an insight into particular parts of Iran at a particular point in time. Other readers have called this book non-fiction, but if the chapters written from the viewpoint of Leila are in part derived Hard to put down and horrific in parts (because the stories and medical circumstances described are based on facts), this is an impressive book based on the author's experiences. The writing isn't exquisite, but the stories, though simply told, are compelling and speak for themselves. The stories offer an insight into particular parts of Iran at a particular point in time. Other readers have called this book non-fiction, but if the chapters written from the viewpoint of Leila are in part derived from the author's imagination, then this book is partly fictional.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Yee

    It took me longer than usual to finish this book. I don't know what is the reason for my struggles, but I guess I'm no longer interested in this kind of story? Or the writing style? Or moral conflicts? I can't figure out why it didn't push me to finish this book in a day or two even though I knew I could. I hope nobody will ask me what I think about this book because I really don't know what to say about it. Book Review: Leila's Secret by Kooshyar Karimi. It took me longer than usual to finish this book. I don't know what is the reason for my struggles, but I guess I'm no longer interested in this kind of story? Or the writing style? Or moral conflicts? I can't figure out why it didn't push me to finish this book in a day or two even though I knew I could. I hope nobody will ask me what I think about this book because I really don't know what to say about it. Book Review: Leila's Secret by Kooshyar Karimi.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Viv

    Powerful novel, well written in a flowing and fetching style. It's hard to believe that the story is actually autobiographical, because Karimi himself works as a doctor, whom one would think is more scientifically guided, but still has such superb talent as a writer. I was surprised that the only critiques promoting the book were from Australian publications, since this book is definitely of top international standard. Apparently Karimi has yet to be discovered. Powerful novel, well written in a flowing and fetching style. It's hard to believe that the story is actually autobiographical, because Karimi himself works as a doctor, whom one would think is more scientifically guided, but still has such superb talent as a writer. I was surprised that the only critiques promoting the book were from Australian publications, since this book is definitely of top international standard. Apparently Karimi has yet to be discovered.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Vaughan Meyer

    Like other reviewers, I too was confused at first - and went back to check whether this was fiction. It is non-fiction and is an incredibly moving and harrowing story. I am awed by the author, who shares his life as a doctor providing illegal abortions in Iran, and also by Leila, an innocent, brave, and tragic young woman. We do not often hear the stories of the many individuals suffering daily in Iran. Such a good read.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Sophie

    It was ok. Interesting to learn more about Iran. Hard to read about the lives of women there. I found Leila’s part of the narrative drawn out and repetitive. It could have been covered in about 3 chapters, rather than every second one. SPOILER ALERT I was also very disappointed with the ending for Leila and her baby, and the fact the author has had no contact with her except for when he treated her. I assumed they stayed in touch, and he somehow helped her improve her life.

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