A few months ago I wrote about the 40-year anniversary of the Iranian Revolution where the US Embassy in Tehran was overrun and hostages were taken. This was a bad point in Iran-America relations, and they have not improved much since then.
On both sides there is great distrust.
In my novel, Cloud of Witnesses, Roland befriends a classmate, a student whose family has come from Tehran so that his father can work on a research project at the university. Hassan and Roland learn they have a lot in common—I know, because on the surface it appears they have NOTHING in common—both are outsiders to their environment. Hassan, after the Revolution, is living in exile while Roland feels as if he also is in exile.
Forty years ago it could easily feel as if the US were on the brink of war. The Soviet Union had invaded Afghanistan and things were not going well (a familiar story in history). That part of the world felt like it was on fire. Today 40 years later tensions are still running high. Just like Roland in the book, kids now might be feeling a bit anxious.
Though set in 1989/1990, Cloud of Witnesses, will feel like a contemporary read and hopefully help young readers with their fears. An underlying message is that we can be friends, that on basic levels, we are brothers and kin.