Twice-Told Tale

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Twice-Told Tale

Twice-Told Tale

New LHP Author Writes a Woman’s Truth

Isabella Delbakhsh
(Above) So much work was put into publishing this book. Endless hours of writing any time and in any place all paid off when Isabella Delbakhsh received her first copy of Freedom Speaks in the mail. Publishing her own book, let alone becoming an Amazon Best Seller, was no easy feat and a remarkable achievement. Let this be an inspiration to make a difference and leave a positive mark on the world around you as well. After all, Delbakhsh is proof that people of any age can advocate for change.

Can you imagine being 17 and an Amazon Best Seller? It is an extraordinary achievement, one that Isabella Delbakhsh, grade 12, has recently accomplished when she debuted her first novel, Freedom Speaks: Anonymous is Not a Woman on September 10. The 78-page book recounts the different key dates in Iranian history and how they relate to women’s rights. It also details some Iranian figures who have made significant efforts in representation. For example, Negin Mirsalehi, founder of the popular hair company Gisou, named her company after the Persian word for “hair.” Another significant Iranian woman showcased in the book is Maryam Mirzakani, the first woman to win the Fields Medal. This medal is awarded every four years on the occasion of the International Congress of Mathematicians to recognize outstanding mathematical achievement. 

When Delbakhsh began writing her book in Freshman year, the story wasn’t exactly about Iranian women. It was more about her and the different people who have influenced her life. However, after the death of Mahsa Amini in September 2022, she was inspired to write her novel about the history of women’s rights in Iran. Amini was a Kurdish-Iranian woman who died because she wore her hijab “incorrectly.” Her death made Delbakhsh realize that this book could be her own version of protesting the unjust and corrupt Iranian government that is trying to silence its women. She explained, “As a woman of Iranian descent myself, I felt like writing a book and putting ideas out in the world was the best way to do that.” Delbakhsh continued: “I wanted to highlight the progress people have been making to champion equality for humanity. I wanted to ensure, in some way, that deaths like Amini’s don’t fade out of the media landscape. People often think of Iran as a country that is full of political turmoil, but the people are highly educated and the history is quite beautiful. My book is a take on what can happen if people work together to progress a society.” However, she also observed, “A lot of times, with history-focused books, they are often too dense for a typical reader.” Therefore, Delbakhsh intentionally made the book a digestible, easy read so that anyone could learn about Iran and its beauty behind the people.  

As with any author, Delbakhsh faced many challenges along the way. She admits that she, “Never considered [herself] a writer before embarking on this project.” Initial doubts were one of her biggest obstacles, but she overcame them by, “Simply writing without judgment”  despite the words being far from perfect. When writing the initial storyline about her own life, Delbakhsh came to many stumbling points. She feared that the story was relatable to only her and not her readers. After changing the storyline to spotlight women from Iran, writing came more naturally. 

Another difficult task Delbakhsh persevered through was finding the motivation to continuously write. Juggling school work and other extracurricular activities made it difficult to make time for writing, so she found that a majority of her writing took place during  Thanksgiving or Christmas Break. When she was able to write during the school year, she would often go to her local Starbucks on the weekends to work on this project, stating that interviewing different women inspired her to keep writing even when life was busy. These interviews took place through Delbakhsh’s podcast, Hello World, the Future is Female, which is available on Apple Podcasts and Spotify. After working on the book for three years, Delbakhsh wrapped up writing the summer before her Senior year. 

Seeing her work in print was beyond exciting. It was crazy for her to wrap her head around her writing being able to spread throughout the world. Freedom Speaks has already been purchased by many people across the U.S. as well as a few in Iran. Delbakhsh expresses how the most exciting to her was, “Seeing the people who this book is dedicated to actually reading it and emailing back their thoughts.” This book was her first tangible finished product, “So it was nice to see some token as to what [she’s] been working towards for the past three years.” Delbakhsh mentions, “This book is a capsule of what I thought and what was important to me at this time.” Although overwhelmed with the amount of people who purchased the book, she was glad to see others recognize Iran as, “More than a country where Persian cats seem to come from.”

Ultimately, Delbakhsh wants readers to realize that this book is about choice and the ability to recognize the achievements and lives of women across the globe. The Iranian government tries to control women, censoring and oppressing them, but Delbakhsh’s book strives to do the opposite. She makes it clear that she, “Truly tried not to speak for what these women were doing, but be the extension of the ideas that were already there.” Essentially, Freedom Speaks is a celebration of women’s rights and the progress that has been and will continue to be made.

The future is bright for Isabella. With a strong passion for writing, she plans to learn how to hone this craft more in college. Although she is unsure what her next writing project will be, she, “Definitely want[s] to try out a new medium for [her] message.” More is yet to come!

Freedom Speaks: Anonymous is Not a Woman is available for purchase on Amazon. If you are interested in getting a copy, it will soon be available for check-out in the Kind Family Library. So look out for her debut novel there too! 

(Above) In a last-minute decision, Delbakhsh figured that she wanted to add an illustration to the book, so she learned to paint. Featured on the last page of Freedom Speaks is Delbakhsh’s finished masterpiece. It showcases all of the aspects of freedom that she believes in and that women deserve to be painted in bright, bold colors. Along with the accomplishment of publishing her own book, Delbakhsh is proud to have picked up some other new skills along the way. (Isabella Delbakhsh)
(Above) Delbakhsh notes that her favorite author is Malcolm Gladwell. Another great author she admires is Ocean Vuong. Many books also influence her writing style, but Change is the Only Constant by Ben Orlin resonates with her the most. Delbakhsh loves listening to podcasts in the mornings, but overall just talking to people inspires her writing projects. Having Freedom Speaks showcased in the Kind Family Library alongside many other accomplished authors was an incredible feeling. (Isabella Delbakhsh)
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About the Contributor
Alyssa Wiboon
Alyssa Wiboon, Director of Media
Alyssa Wiboon, grade 11, is the Director of Media of Lake Highland Preparatory School's Upper School newspaper Twice-Told Tale, and Co-Editor of the Upper School literary magazine By Any Other Name, both nationally recognized by the American Scholastic Press Association and the National Council of Teachers of English. Alyssa is also the Co-President of her school’s club, Paws for a Cause, where she helps spread awareness for animals within local Orlando shelters. Outside of school, she enjoys Irish dancing, going to the beach, reading, and watching movies in her free time. With well over 100 service hours, Alyssa prioritizes helping local communities in any way she can, whether it be at her church or nearby food banks. In the future, she dreams of traveling around the world and creating her own blog, pursuing her love for writing, and being creative.

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