***Winner of the 2021 Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature***
Khosrou’s mother converts to Christianity, which leads her to flee Iran with her children in the middle of the night. Following an extended trip via an Italian refugee camp, Khosrou stands in front of his middle school class in Oklahoma explaining how he got there. Doing his best impression of Scheherazade, the legendary storyteller of 1001 Nights, he speaks of blood sacrifices, forbidden love and libraries in the desert. He is weaving memories to help define himself, but his classmates mainly perceive a boy whose lunch smells funny, who makes things up and talks too much about poop. Everything Sad Is Untrue is a true story in that it is autobiographical, but memories are unreliable, they are the stories we choose to tell ourselves. There is sadness (Khosrou – now known as Daniel – will never be able to make new memories with loved ones who are still in Iran) and there is hardship. At the same time, there is truth in the beauty of family tales in jasmine-scented Isfahan, of sensory memories, of food shared, of love and everyday survival.