Book Reviews

Review: Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win by Susan Azim Boyer

You know those main characters who just wring your heart? That are so complicated, flawed, and deeply relatable? That was how I felt about Jasmine. She’s a main character who resonated with me and made my heart ache. Keep reading this book review for my full thoughts.


It’s 1979, and Jasmine Zumideh is ready to get the heck out of her stale, Southern California suburb and into her dream school, NYU, where she’ll major in journalism and cover New York City’s exploding music scene.

There’s just one teeny problem: Due to a deadline snafu, she maaaaaaybe said she was Senior Class President-Elect on her application—before the election takes place. But honestly, she’s running against Gerald Thomas, a rigid rule-follower whose platform includes reinstating a dress code—there’s no way she can lose. And she better not, or she’ll never get into NYU.

But then, a real-life international incident turns the election upside down. Iran suddenly dominates the nightly news, and her opponent seizes the opportunity to stir up anti-Iranian hysteria at school and turn the electorate against her. Her brother, Ali, is no help. He’s become an outspoken advocate for Iran just as she’s trying to downplay her heritage.

Now, as the white lie she told snowballs into an avalanche, Jasmine is stuck between claiming her heritage or hiding it, standing by her outspoken brother or turning her back on him, winning the election or abandoning her dreams for good.

Told with biting insight and fierce humor, Susan Azim Boyer’s Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win is a fresh, unforgettable story of one Iranian-American young woman’s experience navigating her identity, friendship, family, her future, and a budding romance, all set against life-changing historical events with present-day relevance.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

TW: racism, islamophobia

The main reason I loved Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win is Jasmine. Hands down. She’s a main character who I absolutely empathized with throughout the book. As someone who grew up in a very small minority – like a under ten Asian students in my high school – I felt the ways in which she laughs off the jokes, makes herself feel small, all in order to fit in. It gave me serious flashbacks. How you can either speak out about something you don’t even know how you feel about yet, or also sit in silence with that feeling in your stomach.

All the ways it’s up to each of us to figure out how we toe the line. When we decide it’s important to speak out. Even more so, what makes Jasmine even more relatable is the ways her lies, omissions, catch up to her. Because while we’re in the moment, we always think we will have time to fix it, that we can avoid that disaster. Throughout Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win, Jasmine has to figure out what her success is worth to her. The foundation of this story is her character development. If she will make her platform about how much she is ‘just like them’ while forgetting the struggles of her family or even the lack of nuance.

How quickly people turn it into an attack on “us”. What makes it even more heart wrenching are the ways in which society has changed – and not changed – since this historical fiction setting. All the ways the public doesn’t want to hear the nuance, the interference of the US, or even how these public comments allow our hidden opinions to surface. I feel like we’re in the midst of that right now.


(Disclaimer: Some of the links below are affiliate links. For more information you can look at the Policy page. If you’re uncomfortable with that, know you can look up the book on any of the sites below to avoid the link)

Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win also highlights the nuances and intricacies of biracial identities. Of that pain and struggle of reconciliation. It’s also a story about friendship drama and what depths we will go to, who we will risk, for a chance at success. The lies we feel we have to tell and the weight that we carry on – creating this almost other version of who we are. If you are looking for an emotional and fabulous character development story, look no further. Days after finishing, I’m still in awe of Boyer’s character depth. Find Jasmine Zumideh Needs a Win on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound, & The Book Depository.


Who is your favorite biracial MC?

Share this post

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.