Read advance reader review of A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza, page 3 of 9

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A Place for Us

by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza X
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
  • Critics' Opinion:

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  • First Published:
    Jun 2018, 448 pages

    Mar 2019, 400 pages


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Page 3 of 9
There are currently 62 member reviews
for A Place for Us
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  • Mary Lou F. (Naples, FL)
    Family Differences
    Families are very different, cultures are very different. When it comes right down to it, we are all the same but different. We all love our families in different ways which is what this book shows.
  • Linda V. (Independence, KY)
    Delicious delight
    I am still reading this book, savoring every page, every descriptive image.While some books are a race to the end to see how it all works out, this is not the case with A Place for Us. The author weaves through time and place, stitching together a mood and comprehension of everyone's feelings, dreams and hopes.
    Initially, the hopping back and forth between time was a bit confusing for me. But I understand the juxtaposition now.
    I highly recommend this book and urge you to take your time to enjoy the sensitive and sensorial writing. Wonderful!
  • DeAnn A. (Denver, CO)
    Lyrical and Character-Driven Novel
    10 stars to this stunning debut novel from Fatima Farheen Mirza. I fell in love with this family, each and every character. The story centers around the Muslim Indian American family, Layla and Rafiq as parents and the three siblings: Hadia, Huda, and Amar. Mirza's writing totally drew me in to the over-achieving oldest child Hadia, who wants to please her parents; Huda, the somewhat overlooked middle child; and Amar, the son who struggles with the strictness of his father.
    The book opens with Hadia's wedding and then we are gifted with vignettes of episodes throughout the lives of the family members. Brilliant storytelling, lyrical language, and a glimpse into the lives of this family. The last chapter tore my heart out with the story in Rafiq's voice. I finally understood him. So many parts of the story resonated with me as a parent and sibling.
    I highly recommend this character-driven book. I hope it gets a wide audience.
  • Louise E. (Ocean View, DE)
    Family Dynamics
    This is a wonderful novel about family, a family who happens to be Muslim and living in the United States. The children are first generation Americans. The 5 family members deal with universal themes of identity, acceptance, belonging, and finding their place in the world. We get each family member's perspective on everyday life and what Muslim customs and tradition are kept.

    At the beginning of the story the eldest daughter is getting married and her estranged brother shows up. From there we go back in time to find out what caused the estrangement.

    At the end of the novel, in part 4, the tone changes. This was confusing at first until I realized where the author was going in the story. It gave me hope for this dysfunctional family.

    I would highly recommend this book. I learned a lot about being Muslim in America through an interesting story.
  • Linda S. (Milford, CT)
    A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza
    This book is a vivid picture of a totally unfamiliar culture to me, that of a Muslim American family, loving and close. It allows not only glimpses of a way of life many may not be aware of, but a clear vision of the thoughts, hopes and dreams of the family. Layla, the mother is particularly close to Amar, the youngest and only son. Hadia is the oldest daughter and Huda the middle child. The girls are close but Amar always got in the way growing up.

    Rafiq, the father, is a strict, proud and religious disciplinarian but somewhat in the background. It was either right or wrong with him, no in between. He and Amar frequently disagreed. Amar is not a model student, as are his sisters. As he ages, Amar's problems worsen; he drinks and eventually gets into drugs and violent clashes with his father. He finally leaves home, breaking his mother's heart.

    I really enjoyed this book. If any criticism, the shifts in time frames were a little confusing.
  • Liz D. (East Falmouth, MA)
    A Place for Us
    Fatima Farheen Mirza expresses a feeling everyone has in A Place for Us whether we are native born Americans or immigrants from India. In her beautiful novel Ms. Mirza tells the story of one Indian Muslim family trying to find a place for themselves in a world very different from the one they had in India.

    The parents, Rafiq and Layla, after their marriage move to California to begin their life together. They have three children, two daughters and a son. The novel involves the struggles and joys they have as parents trying to raise observant Muslim children in modern America with all its temptations and pitfalls.
    Each character is lovingly drawn in detail so the reader shares full empathy with their success and sorrows.

    The parents come to terms with Muslim life in America. Each child takes their own approach to being a Muslin one with sad consequences.

    The reader invests so much in each child's journey that the book is hard to stop reading.

    Fatima Farheen Mirza has written her chronicle in the same vein as Jhumpa Lahiri giving the reader a vircarious experience into the integration of an Indian immigrant in the USA trying find a place for themselves.

    A wonderful first effort for an author I'm I will be reading again and again.
  • Janice P. (South Woodstock, VT)
    A Triumph
    I'm in awe of Fatima Farheen Mirza. At 26 she has written a novel that --in its depth of psychological insight and its breadth of ideas--takes its place alongside the greatest from the past two centuries. Her portrait of an Indian-American Muslim family of five, each struggling to reconcile personal choices with faith, clashing cultures, gender roles, family dynamics, and the world after 9/11, is at once engrossing, thought-provoking, heart-breaking and uplifting. Perhaps the greatest compliment I can pay her is this: Mirza has grounded me in a world of convincing characters in loving conflict, whose experiences feel particular to Muslims, but in a way that honors their diversity (no stereotypes here) and shows their struggles as universal, in common with my own.

    Her characters wrestle, each in his or her own way, with issues such as sibling (and parental) rivalry, grief, racism, addiction, pride and shame, the longing for a soul mate, for unconditional love, and the great questions: Is God real? What does it mean to be good? to be happy? to belong? What do I owe to others and to my own self? Is honesty always best? When do I forgive, when do I hold fast to principle? How can I make peace with the hurt I feel, or that I have inflicted on the ones I love most?

    The point of departure is the family gathering for the wedding of Layla and Rafiq's eldest child, Hadia. (No last name, perhaps to emphasize the universality of experience, and no specific setting, though we can infer it is somewhere near San Francisco.) From that moment, we weave backward in memory and ultimately forward in time, from the perspectives of Layla, Hadia, her younger brother Amar, and ultimately Rafiq; only the middle sister, Huda, isn't fully developed.

    Mirza's craft in shifting narrative viewpoints and chronology means the reader is never confused as the story gains momentum while folding back on itself: She allows us to revisit scenes through the eyes of different characters, weaving a tapestry of themes, true to the complexity of her characters--fundamentally decent, humanly flawed-- and of life itself.

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