A Place For Us

An evocative and stunning story, A Place for Us is a book that looks at the meaning of identity, belonging, and love through the eyes of very different people in the same family. It’s a story of a family struggling to find a place between their traditions and their truths, looking at what it means to be both Muslim and American.

 

Synopsis

A Place for Us is a story that spans decades as it weaves its poignant tale of an Indian-American Muslim family reflecting on the crucial moments of love and betrayal in their relationships.

At their eldest daughter Hadia’s wedding, parents Rafiq and Layla are reunited with their estranged son, Amar, for the first time in three years. They look back on the choices they made in their family, and have to look closer at the betrayals that led to Amar’s departure. While the parents were trying to instill religious and cultural traditions in their children, their children were struggling with their identity and authenticity while trying to remain loyal to their home.

Through the eyes of each family member, we see the moments that bring them closer in understanding and love…and the choices and differences that lead to the betrayals that tear them apart.

An evocative and stunning story, A Place for Us is a book that looks at the meaning of identity, belonging, and love through the eyes of very different people in the same family. It’s a story of a family struggling to find a place between their traditions and their truths, looking at what it means to be both Muslim and American.

What was it about an apology that was so difficult? It always felt like it cost something personal and precious. Only now that she was a mother was she so aware of this: the stubbornness and pride that came with being human, the desire to be loyal and generous that came too, each impulse at odds with the other.

Review

I honestly don’t even know where to start with this review. This has been, perhaps, the most difficult review to write because I want to do it justice – I want whoever reads this to understand just how brutal and gorgeous and raw and real this book is. A Place for Us is a book for all of us who feel misunderstood and isolated and lost and betrayed and helpless…and who have been deceitful and hurtful – even in the tiniest decisions that we thought at the time were the right ones. Oh, how our actions have consequences beyond our own lives!

This is a powerful story of faith – how some people feel uplifted and confident and loved in the light of their religion, and some people feel stifled and inadequate and questioning. Raised believing that the word of their God is exact and severe, without an accessible feeling of forgiveness and an allowance for imperfection, they feel adrift and ashamed. The way back is daunting.

Family, community, trust, and betrayal were also huge themes in A Place for Us. The rivalry between the siblings to gain the most parental attention from Layla and Rafiq (in a house that wasn’t always openly affectionate) often overshadows the loyalty and kindness to each other. Some of the choices made for parental approval over sibling loyalty creates the smallest tear in their relationship, echoes of which are heard for decades.

The younger generations chafe under the strictness of their family and community traditions for propriety, and they each have to navigate it themselves and find where they belong. Some adhere to strict tradition and follow their family’s rules, while some push back and have to be brave to merge the tradition with something more honest to themselves. It takes resilience and courage and so much determination, and not everyone follows the same path, creating discord and abandonment.

Oh, it was so hard to read these struggles in the book – I was hoping the whole time for a beautiful resolution to all of these rifts. I won’t spoil the ending, though. If you read nothing else this year, read this book. It took me three tries to start it, so don’t give up if it doesn’t feel like the right time for you. Come back to it. It will be waiting patiently to embrace you and leave you breathless.

 
A Place for Us
by Fatima Farheen Mirza
Kindle Edition, 377 pages
Published June 12th 2018 by SJP for Hogarth

Summary

An evocative and stunning story, A Place for Us is a book that looks at the meaning of identity, belonging, and love through the eyes of very different people in the same family. It's a story of a family struggling to find a place between their traditions and their truths, looking at what it means to be both Muslim and American.

— Cassie
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Comments

  • Ashley

    September 11, 2019 at 1:01 am
    Reply

    Great review! I’m definitely picking this for my next book club selection!

    • Cassie
      to Ashley

      September 11, 2019 at 1:56 am
      Reply

      Thanks so much! Glad you found me on here :) And yes, it's such a great read and your book club should love it! We've […] Read MoreThanks so much! Glad you found me on here :) And yes, it's such a great read and your book club should love it! We've selected it for our October book club discussion. Read Less

  • LW

    August 28, 2019 at 1:15 am
    Reply

    Daaang. Great review. Makes me want to read this one for sure. Sounds like I should read and discuss with my sister...

    • Cassie
      to LW

      September 3, 2019 at 6:49 pm
      Reply

      Absolutely! That sounds like such a wonderful idea! Thanks for your comment :)

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