Call Me Zebra by Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi is a beautiful, heartbreaking story of exile, loss, love, and ultimately self. Zebra comes from a long line of scholars whose lives are literally literature. They are born and raised with literature, eat and sleep literature, and speak in literature. Zebra and her parents set off on a tragic journey fleeing the government in Tehran, and her father and her end up in NYC a while later. After her father passes Zebra sets off on a trip to retrace their footsteps back home, her first stop being Barcelona where she meets a man names Ludo and embarks on a twisty turny love affair. (I realize that this is a very simplified summary, Zebra’s story is so much deeper than that).
The novel is so beautiful, and so, so, SO smart. Zebra makes you laugh and cry, infuriates you, drives you bonkers, and makes you want to hug her tight and never let go. I personally related to many of the emotions and deep feelings that Zebra evokes, having been an immigrant in different countries for most of my life. And also because of her love of bringing literature into literally every thought. I loved how the story was written, in a stream of consciousness style. Instead of providing the reader with a set background of imagery, we get to imagine our own through Zebra’s often cluttered mind. It sometimes works as a puzzle or a maze, and you get frustrated, and then laugh because you know your own mind works in a similar fashion.
I now need to go and read Azareen Van der Vliet Oloomi’s first book because I absolutely loved this one!
Call Me Zebra was published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt on February 6th, 2018. Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to read this book!