A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is work of art. A melody, almost, that sings to the reader and never stops, not even when the covers are closed.
A Place For Us tells a story of the “All American” life in a very different way than anglo white Americans are familiar. The family that Mirza follows is an American family: Hadia, Huda, and Amar are all born in America. The family identifies as much with being American as they do being Muslim, and that (for some in the family) is a challenge, especially those who don’t always want to identify with being Muslim. The children, fighting to fit in both at their mosque and in school, struggle often to come to terms with what it means to be an American and a Muslim. Besides, for most of the story, they are only children, also struggling to find meaning and purpose, to feel loved, and to accomplish what they feel is expected of them.
Mirza does a beautiful job of weaving past and present as if it were a seamless tapestry, shifting between time periods almost unnoticed. We hear from nearly every family member’s perspective as Mirza slowly unravels the tragic, beautiful, and engrossing narrative of the family’s life. Throughout the novel, as the perspective shifts, we begin to know each character more intimately, finding more and more respect, forgiveness, or anger toward that character depending on the reveal.
Perhaps what makes the novel so moving, so fully charged with an energy that not only propels readers forward but makes it nearly impossible to stop is that the main themes of the book are inescapable for us all. Issues of family, duty, faith, and regret are those that shadow all our lives whether for good or for bad in ways that make the novel somehow relatable even if the reader does not share the faith of the family, their home country, or their problems. Through bursts of anger, disappointment, and doubt, the family holds some thread of remaining a unit, of their culture, of their lives as Muslim Americans.
Mirza has a beautiful and poetic voice that rings out with an aura of wisdom. You wouldn’t know this was her first book if the back cover didn’t say so: she has the power and grace of a generations old writer.
Slated for release by Hogarth Press in June of 2018, you can preorder a copy of A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza at your local bookstore.
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FTC Disclaimer: This book was given to me in return for a fair and honest review of the text