WHEN SKATEBOARDS WILL BE FREE: A Memoir of a Politcal Childhood

Dear Reader,

The first sentence of Saïd Sayrafiezadeh’s memoir When Skateboards Will Be Free: A Memoir of a Political Childhood is “My father believes that the United States is destined one to day to be engulfed in a socialist revolution.”  It could also be the first and last sentence of Sayrafiezadeh’s youth and early adulthood, life defined by his parents’ membership in the Socialist Workers Party and their subsequent fanaticism. Like people who are certain the end is near, his parents are certain revolution is near. His father’s dedication to this cause leads him to abandon his wife and Sayrafiezadeh to travel as a charismatic, respected speaker; his mother’s to isolation and self-imposed poverty.

Given Sayrafiezadeh circumstances, you’d think his book is dour, but it isn’t. It’s frequently hilarious, especially when he describes regurgitating (as in bringing up UNdigested ideas) his parents’ socialist rhetoric in response to situations he knows nothing about, much like people sloughing off a tragedy by saying, “It’s God’s will.” He relates what it’s like to go into acting with a name such as his. (His father is Iranian.) More often than not, he is called to audition for the part of a Middle Eastern cab driver or shopkeeper. (As a writer, his name probably works in his favor. And why shouldn’t it? After all, I picked up his book because its title intrigued me and because, given his name, I incorrectly assumed it revolved around an Islam based political childhood.)

Men and women who were raised under constricting belief systems surrounding politics, diet, religion, or lifestyle will appreciate Sayrafiezadeh’s observations along with how he comes to terms with his parents and his childhood. If readers are looking for a straight chronology of his life, they’ll be disappointed. But if they’re willing to follow him in his turns of memory, they’ll be more than satisfied by When Skateboards Will Be Free.

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