I wanted to see the ingredients hopping around in the blender; I wanted to see the conflict of cultures. Instead, the book is focused on the family and its traditions, not about the problems of assimilating into American culture and not about friendships with people outside their culture. For the most part, it seems like the kids have blended in pretty well. All you want to talk about is yesterday! Of course I know this, since I was constantly looking at the Percent Read info at the bottom of the page, lol.
I was reading about the past. And reading about the past. And reading about the past…. Can we please go back to today? Can we see what happens at the wedding? But I would have liked it if the present had come back into focus now and then, between the blasts of the past. I was impatient to find out what was happening in the here and now. At first, there was a smattering of religion. I could handle that. I figured it was just there to convince us of how important religion was to the parents, which was reasonable. However, the entire last part of the book felt like a sermon.
And as the end was approaching oh baby let me be done with this book! But oh no. Throughout the book, there are phrases in Urdu. This is a pet peeve of mine: I hate it when books include phrases in another language. Very occasionally, there was a point of view problem. This is the ending? Instead, the ending was mostly talk of religion and regrets. I read a million 5-star reviews, many from friends, so I expected to love this book. Plus, I got sucked into the hype that Sarah Jessica Parker generated. She has just launched a book publishing imprint and chose this as her first book.
I saw her with the author on a talk show. Parker was effusive. Man, what a salesperson! She convinced me that this book was the bending end—I was salivating to get my hands on it. But wait. Parker has always been an actress, not a book publisher. And why would I assume that she would like a book I would like? It grated on my nerves instead of being soothing or wonderful. I never wanted to pick the book up. I'm an alien. Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy. This author lets us know quite distinctly that we are not just readers; we are powerful beings capable of changing the world by altering the way we think.
By making an effort to view life through the eyes of others, to consider their struggles and downfalls, and to recognize that we are ultimately one and the same, no matter our gender, race, religious beliefs, or social stature. Every single moment in this story is made to materialize before your eyes through writing so profound and poetic it will cause you to pause in tiny moments of silence just to fully absorb the enormous weight of a single delicate sentence.
We not only witness the struggles of this beautiful Indian-American Muslim family, but we are invited to step inside their minds, embody their pain, cry through their failures, and rejoice within their triumphs. I found myself in tears more times than I can count, from being so utterly moved , and so humbly inspired.
Being a character-driven story at heart, I feel compelled to introduce you to this family, because there is nothing better than characters so well-constructed they end up feeling like friends. Like family. Amar is the youngest child and son of Layla and Rafiq , and brother to sisters Hadia and Huda. This is the main cast of characters guaranteed to find their way into your heart. I was mere minutes inside this story, yet already fully invested in each of their lives.
The story opens at a wedding in present time, where Amar has returned to his family after years of estrangement. Secrets from the past slowly begin to reveal themselves through a timeline that glides seamlessly in and out of past and present settings. The character development is tremendous. No one is immune to failure nor safe from heartache. This is NOT a neatly-depicted drama with over-the-top lessons and troubles that are magically repaired by the end. You can feel the painful trials of each and every one of these characters—and perhaps you can even relate To Amar …who feels trapped inside the demands of his Muslim faith and his internal doubt.
Born in America, but feeling every bit an outsider, Amar lives in constant fear of betraying his family and their customs. Or you may find common ground with Hadia …and her perpetual need to please her father, as though her entire self-worth lies solely upon his approval.
In 'A Place for Us,' novelist Fatima Farheen Mirza shows Muslim characters through a wider lens
Or maybe their parents …who refuse to grant their children the option to live freely within their country, adamant that they adhere to their rigid yet beautiful customs, without granting even an inch of wiggle-room What I failed to consider were the innocent ones waking up that same morning afraid of being Muslim. How it must feel for a good person—a peace-loving person—to be judged and condemned for the hateful act of another.
Various accounts of unfairness and judgment, family strife, true love lost, all saturate these pages—but there is also so much more. Those precious little moments in life, so seemingly simple and ordinary that creep in quietly and leave almost entirely unnoticed. You know the ones: children watching fireworks for the first time with their parents. A walk through a garden, a drive for ice cream. Laughing at the kitchen table while gathering for a meal. The bewitching charm of young love It highlights their impact and embraces their worth, showing us that it is ultimately the simple things in life that end up defining us.
The simple moments that connect us all. I love this story with all of me, and I hope you will, too. May 12, Anne Bogel rated it it was amazing. I may bump this up to 5 stars but I like to sit with it a while first. This is one of the best, most emotionally resonant books I've read in a while. Complex, wistful, melancholy. View all 9 comments. This book was an absolutely phenomenal read and was quickly placed into my Goodreads Favourite Reads shelf for ! This book was absolutely everything to me! My thoughts and emotions did not change from the very first sentence of this book and held dear right to the very last sentence.
If anything it just reminded me of what I seek and why I love to read! I have never been so excited to have received a book in the mail like I was with this one. This story is just as gorgeous and beautiful as that cover! I was immediately drawn into this story and savoured every single sentence! I absolutely love the title of this book and found it was extremely fitting to this story. No matter who we are or where we are from there is A Place for Us! The story is told in multiple perspectives which alternates between the voices of Layla, Hadia, and Amar, with a surprise narrative near the end which I absolutely loved.
We see the same events unfold through the different perspectives and what the significance of each event meant to them and how it ultimately shapes each character. We really get a good look and understanding into each of these events. In the end I thought this was such an important, touching and powerful story and I am so happy that I had the pleasure of reading it!
This book has the power to change the way we think and feel and has reminded me of all the reasons of why I love to read!
A Conversation with Fatima Farheen Mirza | Read It Forward
Would highly recommend! I read this book along with my fellow Traveling Sisters! Thank you so much ladies for another awesome reading experience!! View all 99 comments. May 15, Susanne Strong rated it it was amazing Shelves: must-read , traveling-sister-read , five-star-books , favorites , direct-from-publisher , favorite-authors. Extremely rare are the novels that touch the soul, permanently marking the heart, creating a burning in the lungs, making it impossible to draw in enough air.
Every word read, causing an emotional chill and creating a sensation that coursed through me, making my heart all a flutter. Rafiq, runs a tight ship, strictly adhering to the militant upbringing, he himself grew up with. Layla, lives for both her family and her religion, they go hand in hand and she believes in the power of her faith to help guide her through. Her children are her life, though unconsciously she gravitates to one, more than the others.
Hadia, the eldest daughter, is the best and the brightest, the one who needs recognition, personally and professionally above all else. She has a need to live by a certain code, regardless of who it impacts. Huda is the quiet one, the most confident, the most self-assured. The one everyone goes to when they need to be consoled. Amar, is the youngest child, the one who struggles the most: within his family unit, with school and with his beliefs. He has always been the outsider. The one thing he wants most in this life is forbidden. Amar returns for the celebration from parts unknown, having been estranged from the family for many years.
Everyone walks on eggshells. Emotions are palpable, from the very first moment, the tightness in the chest, the sinking, nervous feeling in the stomach. I am there, scared straight, watching, waiting, all eyes on Amar. I am Hadia, when she is in competition with Amar and when confronts her Baba Rafiq about him; I am Amar, when he dotes on his mother, when he plays with his friend Ali, when he looks longingly at Amira and when he hangs his head in shame.
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I am also Huda, when she comforts those around her. Whose character resonates most with me you might wonder.. Always Amar. Thinking of his unrelenting heartache, his unwavering need for acceptance, love and understanding, my chest is tight and my eyes fill with tears. When reading this novel, my head swirled with a myriad of thoughts. Ways in which you would never imagine. In my mind, this was the take-away - to be accountable for your actions and think about how your choices affect those around you as all actions have consequences, even the trivial ones.
It is full of life lessons and a gazillion heartfelt, desperate, tear-jerking moments. To say that I was invested in and loved Amar, Huda, Hadia and Baba and this book is an understatement. The writing is so fluid, like a fountain, the water rising up, up, up ever so slowly, and splashing over quickly. It calming, exquisite, intricate, muted. In other words, sheer perfection. This was a Traveling Sister Read.
Our discussions for this book were by far, the most brilliant, emotional and gut-wrenching of any group read to-date. Throughout the course of the novel, each of us felt utterly bereft. None of us have recovered. It seems impossible to imagine that this is her debut. My love for this book knows no bounds. Published on Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter and Instagram on 6. View all 87 comments. I am just blown away by the fact that this is a first novel, the story and theme so universal.
A Muslim Indian family in America, trying to maintain it's own beliefs and culture, while facing modernity. This family, mother, father, two daughters , Hadia and Huda, and the youngest, a son Amar who never really feels he belongs. We come to know this family inside and out,the book starts with the marriage of Hadia,and then goes back and forth, to various beginnings and endings. While their bel Wow!! While their beliefs may not be mine, many of the problems between parents and siblings are indeed universal.
As they struggle to find their place in the larger world, the children also struggle to find their place in the family. Living up to parental expectations, or in Amar's case the struggle to find his place anywhere at all. Trying to carvea path between cultural and religious beliefs and the lessening of this expectation to fit with the place they now find themselves. The story of this family in all its totality is both moving and insightful. The barriers to acceptance by children and parents after , when all Muslims were viewed with suspicion and in many cases outright hate.
By showing us the commonalities in their family and our own, this young author has shown us that ww may in fact may not be so different. The last part of the book focuses on the father's point of view,alone. How he thought, what went wrong and what he wished he had done differently. It is full of anguish and remorse, and we clearly see for the first time what this Muslim, husband, father has gone through, from his own childhood to the way he tried to instill family values and religious beliefs in his children.
It does end on a note of positivity, sadness yes, but hopefully as well. This is an outstanding piece of fiction, in my opinion, I quite frankly fell hard for this family, with all it's flaws and things mistakenly done out of love. I wasn't ready to leave them at books end, and I believe if you read, or at least I hope, that you will see some of the same values, if not the religious beliefs, that we try to instill in our own families.
This is also the first book published under the Sarah Jessica Parker imprint of Random House, and it is a wonderful beginning. ARC from bookbrowse and Random House. View all 71 comments.
Apr 09, Angela M rated it it was amazing Shelves: netgalley-reviews. This is one of them. You might read reviews of this book both on Goodreads and in the press and see words like stunning, beautiful, powerful and I wish I could be more original and find some different words but I can only say that this book is all of those things.
This is a story of an Indian Muslim family living in California, and of course, it is in so many ways about cultural traditions, religious beliefs, but at its core it is a story of a family, how much they love each other, how they make mistakes and hurt each other, how deeply they feel sorrow and regret for things they do and say, sometimes too late. They are not unlike many of us, whether we are Indian Muslim or not.
We know at the beginning that Amar, the youngest child in the family, has been gone for several years and that there is tension between him and his father, Rafiq.
This is the intimate way we get to know these characters so deeply. The narrative that perhaps struck me the most, the deepest was that of Rafiq, the father who we come to know in the last part of the book. I found some circumstances so heartbreaking and some so uplifting and I cried at both. View all 89 comments. Apr 14, Elyse Walters rated it it was amazing.
Absolutely wonderful!!! We have the 2nd highest Muslim population in the region. The narrative is excellent We get to know the characters well and are drawn into their inner most emotional lives — really personal storytelling , allowing for us - the reader to better understand them as individuals- and as a family - with all their many trials and tribulations. At the same time -we get a clear look at the immediate family members struggles. The author does this by weaving together three non-linear points of view — and it flows effortlessly. And quite brilliantly. What they learned was many are still dealing with anxiety and fears.
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So this book is very relevant even today. Amar is the only son of Rafiq and Layla. Also the youngest sibling. The ending was extremely moving— I had tears. An amazing story This novel is also conscience-ridden Thank You, Emily for sending me this gorgeous physical book! The cover is stunning. View all 52 comments. Mar 02, Julie rated it it was amazing Shelves: , fiction-literature , e-book. The incredible amount of time I waited to read this book was worth it.
This book is everything my peers said it would be. A formidable task, but I couldn't leave all these powerful emotions bottled up inside, needing to express some of my own personal thoughts on it. However, this is also a story about the struggle for individuality within the family unit.
These themes, despite the added elements of cultural and religious diversity, and the examination of gender roles within the family unit, which certainly makes this story a unique experience for most readers , are not necessarily new. Any parent, any child, any family, with similarities, such as disciplinarian parenting, often coupled with deep religious fervor, could relate to this family, at least to some extent.
While Layla and Rafiq are in an arranged marriage, and their faith is important to them, their children often question the answers, perhaps in a way their parents never dared. But, invariably, there is at least one child who rebels, who feels stifled or repressed, who challenges with a sense of pride and stubbornness, the principles and expectations the family imparts upon them. In this case, Amar and his father Rafiq, clash in such a harsh and heartbreaking manner, leaving the reader feeling bereft, with a keen sense of loss, for what might have been, what could have been If only people had the benefit of hindsight, if only our mistakes could be taken back, if we could have a do over, knowing exactly where things went awry, if only blame was placed where it should be placed, if only we were not all flawed humans - if only this were a perfect world.
As the tragic events unfold, the characters each come into their own, confessing horrible secrets, admitting complicity, guilt, blame, and expressing overwhelming regret. This is family. This is parenting. This is life. There is pain, there is progress, there is forgiveness, there is hope- and 'a place for us'. This novel is eloquently written, so fresh, so raw and emotional, and so very real. This is not a flashy story, sidestepping pretentiousness, while replacing it with a beautiful, understated quality, which is quite effective.
It is this sense of realism, the feeling of being, not on the outside looking in, but of being present, in the moment, right there with the characters, as the story unfolds, that held me firmly in its grip. I was far more in tune, listening to the silence, carefully watching, and waiting with bated breath to see how events would unfold. As the conclusion draws near and the second person narrative of Rafiq begins, the silence is finally heard.
These passages nearly ripped my heart out. A very impressive debut for Fatima Farheen Mirza, for sure. I feel she is light years ahead of many of her contemporaries and can envision a very bright future for her in literary land. All the stars View all 85 comments. May 16, Melisa rated it it was amazing. Like a long, slow hug. A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is one of the most extraordinary, thought provoking pieces of literature I have read in a very long time and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I am so very honored to have been included in this beautiful group of reviewers and to have read something so spectacular together with them.
It is my fear that I cannot possibly do this gorgeous book justice with a review. So this is not a review; these are my thoughts on what is sure to be one of the most moving, beautifully written pieces of work I will ever read. So delicately and beautifully detailed, the words will grab ahold of you, take you on an emotional journey and never let you go. In essence, this is a story of a family who is trying to understand how to exist in a world where their two cultures are colliding.
But this could be the story of any family, which is what affected me so deeply - the daily struggles, attempting to do what you think is best for yourself and your children - and how these decisions can affect your family dynamic forever. This book affected me profoundly on many different levels, from the emotional pull I felt for these characters to the excitement of learning about a new culture. You will find beautiful customs. You will find struggle and deeply human connection. You will feel and you will empathize and you will find a story that will touch your heart. Highly, highly recommend.
One thousand stars. A massive thank you to SJP for Hogarth for providing me with a copy of this extraordinary book. And thank you to the other Traveling Sisters for the most profound discussion. View all 48 comments. I was the lone straggler, coming in with my thoughts late on this book, and while I wish I had been able to discuss more throughout reading, I felt such an intense connection to this book, I needed time to process.
It was a total pleasure to read this with my sisters and an absolute honor to be 5 stars to A Place for Us, an emotionally-evocative and profound story of family and belonging! Amar, the estranged youngest brother, attends the wedding, after being away for years. One in which to reflect on my own life, on my family growing up, on my parents, and most especially, how small decisions made by family members can leave indelible marks.
I felt profound connections to the genuine characters portrayed in this book due to the authenticity in the writing. Culture-aside, the issues at play within this family were universal; however, the culture embedded here was enlightening and thought-stirring. Fatima Farheen Mirza has the ability to convey emotions in the most sincere and open ways, and she captures the vulnerabilities in people with honesty and grace. A Place for Us is easily one of the best books I have ever read and gets my highest recommendation. My reviews can also be found on my blog: www. View all 72 comments.
The story of a Muslim Indian American family, that really could be any family Told non-linearly, The author wove pieces of the present and the past together seamlessly A story that was above all else about love It accretes its power, beauty, and insight through its tender witnessing of private and family life. With her deeply compassionate view, Mirza dignifies terrain often desecrated by contemporary culture: maternity, faith, the bonds of community, the yearning for goodness, and our duty to others. She shows us the destructiveness of our doubt in those we love, and the mercy of forgiveness.
Most wondrously, with this felt and moving novel, Mirza creates a place in which rebellion and reverence seem to embrace. It is that immersive, that brilliant, that true. So vividly told the characters live and breathe.
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