A Place for Us: Book summary and reviews of A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

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
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  • Publishes in USA 
    Jun 12, 2018
    448 pages
    Genre: Novels

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About this book

Book Summary

The first novel from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint, SJP for Hogarth, A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity and belonging.

A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia's, wedding – a match of love rather than tradition. It is here, on this momentous day, that Amar, the youngest of the siblings, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. Rafiq and Layla must now contend with the choices and betrayals that lead to their son's estrangement – the reckoning of parents who strove to pass on their cultures and traditions to their children; and of children who in turn struggle to balance authenticity in themselves with loyalty to the home they came from.

In a narrative that spans decades and sees family life through the eyes of each member, A Place For Us charts the crucial moments in the family's past, from the bonds that bring them together to the differences that pull them apart. And as siblings Hadia, Huda, and Amar attempt to carve out a life for themselves, they must reconcile their present culture with their parent's faith, to tread a path between the old world and the new, and learn how the smallest decisions can lead to the deepest of betrayals.

A deeply affecting and resonant story, A Place for Us is truly a book for our times: a moving portrait of what it means to be an American family today, a novel of love, identity and belonging that eloquently examines what it means to be both American and Muslim - and announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"Each complex, surprising character struggles with faith, responsibility, racism, fear, longing, and jealousy, while Mirza conveys with graceful specificity the rhythms of Muslim life, from prayer to wearing hijab, gender etiquette, food, holidays, and values, all of which illuminate universal quandaries about family, self, culture, beliefs, and generational change." - Booklist

"Mirza displays a particular talent for rendering her characters' innermost emotional lives, signaling a writer to watch." - Publishers Weekly

"Because of the structure, the time line of events is at times confusing. What Mirza does best is show how family dynamics can shape one's life and how seemingly inconsequential events can have a large impact over time." - Library Journal

"A Place for Us is a radiantly envisioned, beautifully achieved epic about nearly everything that matters: love, family, faith, freedom, betrayal, contrition, absolution. Fatima Farheen Mirza is a magnificent new voice." - Anthony Marra, author of A Constellation of Vital Phenomena and The Tsar of Love and Techno

"This extraordinary, piercingly wise novel examines as profoundly as any book I know the threads of injury and grace that stitch together a family. Fatima Farheen Mirza has the passionate intelligence and moral vision that announce not merely an excellent writer, but a great one. I felt such gratitude reading this fiercely compassionate debut, and such joy at discovering a voice I will follow for the rest of my life." - Garth Greenwell, author of What Belongs to You

"Fatima Farheen Mirza's A Place for Us is a radiant debut. 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." - Charmaine Craig, author of Miss Burma

The information about A Place for Us shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's online-magazine that keeps our members abreast of notable and high-profile books publishing in the coming weeks. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author of this book and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Reader Reviews

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Sherri A. (Westbrook, CT)

A Need-to-Read novel
Fatima Farheem Mirza's beautiful first novel has been called a novel for our times, and I heartily agree. The way in which she weaves the story of an Indian Muslim family's gathering for a daughter's wedding with the larger tale of identity and belonging left me breathless at times. Hard to believe this is a first novel. I definitely look forward to reading more from this author in the future.

Barbara C. (Fountain Hills, AZ)

A Place For Us
I really enjoyed reading this book. The differences between cultures and the tensions created was so well defined. The characters came to life and I as the reader sympathized with each of them. I usually am not a fan of first time authors but this author has a firm grasp on language, sense of place, dialogue,plot and timing. The final ruminating by the father went on a bit too long, but wrapped up the story well. I'm looking forward to reading another book by Mirza.

Betty T. (Warner Robins, GA)

You will long remember this family
I am amazed that this is Ms. Mirza's first book. It is beautifully written, describing the family dynamics of a Muslim Indian-American family and their desire to remain devout to their religion and continue their cultural traditions here in the US. Just like any family, anywhere, of any faith, the children strive to live up to their parents' expectations of them, often feeling frustration at the constraints they feel their parents have unfairly put upon them.

The story opens with the wedding of the oldest daughter Hadia to Tariq, a modern marriage of love rather than the traditional arranged marriage. On her daughter's wedding day, mother Layla thinks back to the early days of her arranged marriage with husband Rafiq who was an orphan who moved to America on his own, got a job, and established a good life for himself and his new immigrant wife Layla. They had three children - Hadia, Huda, and Amar. While all three of the children struggle with the decision to follow their parents' religious and cultural practices or not, Amar finds it especially difficult. He spends his entire life trying to find where he fits in and never truly feels that he belongs anywhere. Throughout the remainder of the book, Layla reflects back upon the lives of her children as they grew into adults and upon the stages of her own marriage.

Hadia has asked her beloved brother to attend her wedding even though Amar has been estranged from the family for three years. The relationship between Amar and his father has always been especially strained.

I enjoyed reading about the religious and cultural practices of the family. As I read I could see many similarities between the Muslim practices and my own Jewish practices. This book is a gives us the gift of looking into another culture with the utmost sensitivity and genuineness. The conflicts encountered, the family conflicts, the feeling of isolation, the heartbreak – all are portrayed with such compassion for the characters. This is a family you will not soon forget.

Linda Boschert

A Place For Us
This story is a fictional account of a Muslim Indian family and how they deal with many issues between each other, living in America, and being from a different ethnic background. The events of 911 are part of the rich history which this book encompasses, with reactions towards this family from fellow classmates, etc. I loved the writing style and topics included in this book and rate it highly! I enjoyed learning about the region their families originally came from, and the character studies throughout the book. The characters are revealed as the book goes on and you just cheer and cry for them!

Sarah H. (Arvada, CO)

The Beautiful Power of Story
Fatima Farheen Mirza honors and celebrates the power of story that gives the reader insight and connection to another culture they may never experience outside of the book. Yet the effects of the story are real and live on with the reader. This speaks strongly to the author's ability to create emotion and three dimensional characters in a warm and touching story of family.

Maggie R. (Canoga Park, CA)

My new family
The more I read, the more I appreciate Umberto Eco's comment that reading is another way of adding to your experience of life - equal to interactions in "real" life. (Maybe he didn't say exactly that - I haven't been able to locate the quote related to The Mysterious Flame of Loana). A Place for Us introduced me to a new family that now has a place in my heart and opens my mind in a way not likely to happen in reality. Would that we all diversify our experiences by reading - the possibilities are endless.

...57 more reader reviews

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Author Information

Fatima Farheen Mirza Author Biography

Photo: Gregg Richards

Fatima Farheen Mirza was born and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and is a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship. A Place for Us (June 12, 2018) is her debut novel and is the first literary work acquired by award-winning actress and producer Sarah Jessica Parker as editorial director of her newly launched imprint, SJP for Hogarth.

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