Seda's Story: A Memoir.


136 pages
ISBN 978-1-894549-82-0
DDC 362.76092





Edited by Bonnie MacLachlan
Reviewed by Ashley Thomson

Ashley Thomson is a full librarian at Laurentian University and co-editor or co-author of nine books, most recently Margaret Atwood: A Reference Guide, 1988-2005.


Seda was a young Iranian woman, born in 1975, who was abused physically and sexually by her father. In 1988 the family emigrated to Canada where mercifully, her problems were identified by authorities who arranged to have her and her two siblings brought into foster care. A year later they were all reunited with their mother, who by then had separated from her husband. In 1994, after completing high school, she enrolled at the University of Western Ontario where she met the editor of this memoir, and later graduated with an honours degree in English. Seda was in and out of psychiatric hospitals all this time; in one, a male patient sexually assaulted her and she became pregnant. An abortion followed. By 2001 she was enrolled in the social work program at Carleton University, and one night she was seriously hurt in a bad car accident. By 2004 life became so insufferable that she asked her mother for permission to end her life—and to ensure that her writing would one day be published.


The resulting book is divided into three parts. The first is written as letters to the fearless Persian heroine, Sharzhad, in which Seda recounts the terrible abuse suffered at her father’s hand. The second, and longest, contains poetic and prose reflections that follow the contours of her life. The third and shortest is a fictional narrative projecting the fears and fantasies of a woman living under constant threat of male violence.


While the book fulfills the promise made by her mom that her writing be published after her death, it will probably not attract a wide readership. In part this is because the book is not a unified whole, and in part because the experiences recounted are really gruesome. True, professionals might find the book of interest, but even here it will be of limited use because in the end, Seda did not overcome her challenges. In fact, a concluding select annotated bibliography of resources aimed at professionals trying to help women like Seda may be the most useful part.


“Seda's Story: A Memoir.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,