MLA Platinum Award Press Release

BookBrowse Reviews A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

Summary |  Excerpt |  Reading Guide |  Reviews |  Beyond the book |  Readalikes |  Genres & Themes |  Author Bio

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:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    Jun 2018, 448 pages
    Mar 2019, 400 pages


  • Rate this book

Book Reviewed by:
BookBrowse First Impression Reviewers
Buy This Book

About this Book



A stunning debut novel in which an Indian Muslim family in the United States confronts cultural and generational issues.

A whopping 62 out of 66 of our First Impression reviewers gave A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza a four- or five-star rating – for an overall average of 4.7 stars.

What it's about
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is the story of one immigrant family trying to find a place in American society. Timely in its subject-matter and exquisitely written, the novel contains universal themes while highlighting the immigrant experience unique to Muslims (Sara L). The story opens with the wedding of the family's 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, an orphan who moved to America on his own, got a job, and established a good life for the two of them. Their three US-born children struggle with following their parents' religious and cultural practices, but the youngest, Amar, finds it especially challenging. He spends his entire life trying to find where he fits in and never truly feels that he belongs anywhere. Throughout the book Layla reflects back upon the lives of her children as they grew into adults and upon the stages of her own marriage (Betty T). This portrait of an Indian-American Muslim family, 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 (Janice P).

Members remarked on the wide range of subjects explored by the author
The book encompasses such ancient themes as generational divides, father-son estrangement, patriarchal family culture and heartbreaking betrayals and misunderstandings (Ginny B). It also touches on sibling and parental relationships, gender, birth order, secrets revealed and withheld, guilt and adherence to religious restrictions (Beth B).

Readers felt the book was exceptional
A Place for Us is an amazing debut on many levels. It ticks off all the expected boxes for good fiction: it is well-written, plotted and paced and it's peopled with finely realized characters who speak with clarity and honesty. Perhaps most exciting of all is the discovery that an author so young could produce such a sure-handed, richly layered observation of the complex human condition in all its inherent beauty - and disappointments (Darra W). It is truly a beautifully written book that was a pleasure to read (Elizabeth V).

The character development was a highlight
This is a book where you really connect with and care about the characters (Beth M). They're so compelling and rich that they pull you along through a deep and complicated family history (Catherin O). I felt such empathy for them, they were fully realized and fleshed out (Cheryl S).

Many readers found it informative about Muslim culture
I was not very familiar with the culture and religion of the family portrayed in the book but I enjoyed learning more (Susan B). The parents' devout faith and their bonds within their religious community play a strong part in the story and may serve to educate some readers regarding Islam as a faith and the difficulties of raising children to be observant, particularly in this current age of intolerance and ignorance (Ginny B). I gained a tremendous amount of insight into Muslim customs and family life, but I also saw how divisive it can be trying to maintain a closed society in the midst of 21st century USA. According to your perspective the first generation born here becomes either a bridge to a different world or an ax dividing families and communities (Linda W).

The book's themes, however, are universal
The thing that impressed me most about the book is that it is the story about a family facing the problems that many of us have faced as our children form beliefs of their own which sometimes are at odds with the values and traditions that we, their parents, hold very close to our hearts. The author wrote this book about a Muslim family, but the book could have been about a Christian, Jewish, Buddhist or Mormon family (Virginia M). Many parts of the story resonated with me as a parent and sibling (DeAnn A). The more I read the more I was struck by how similar we all are (Barbara O).

A few complained about the narrative format and pacing
I was a little frustrated with the alternating flashback-present tense format. Sometimes the flashbacks went back to a younger age than the previous flashback, and I found myself underlining ages or grades in school to try and keep it straight (Rebecca R). The author's prose is littered with descriptive sentences that provide a vivid image but may or may not be germane to the action. Mirza also spends much time inside the head of her characters, switching people and time periods with little warning. These methods drag down an already slow-moving novel to a snail's pace (Patricia L).

A Place for Us is recommended to a wide audience
I am so grateful this book came into my hands, it was a wonderful reading experience and I highly recommend it to all readers (Cheryl S). This is one of the best books that I have read in years. I'm pretty stingy with my stars but I would give this book six stars if I could (Joan P). It would be an excellent book club choice as it wrestles with cultural clashes, family dynamics and individual choices (Linda W).

This review was originally published in The BookBrowse Review in June 2018, and has been updated for the March 2019 edition. Click here to go to this issue.

This review is available to non-members for a limited time. For full access become a member today.
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $12 for a year or $39 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Support BookBrowse

Become a Member and discover books that entertain, engage & enlighten.

Join Now!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: The Book of Longings
    The Book of Longings
    by Sue Monk Kidd
    The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd follows the life of Ana, a woman born in the Galilean city of ...
  • Book Jacket: Master Class
    Master Class
    by Christina Dalcher
    Christina Dalcher's Master Class shows America sleepwalking into a perfectionist eventuality not ...
  • Book Jacket: How to Pronounce Knife
    How to Pronounce Knife
    by Souvankham Thammavongsa
    Many examples of immigrant fiction dedicate a portion of their storytelling to exploring details of ...
  • Book Jacket: The Easy Part of Impossible
    The Easy Part of Impossible
    by Sarah Tomp
    Teenager Ria Williams is a skilled diver. She is on track to compete at the Olympic level, but ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Daughter of the Reich
    by Louise Fein

    A spellbinding story of impossible love set against the backdrop of the Nazi regime.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    The Prisoner's Wife
    by Maggie Brookes

    Inspired by the true story of a courageous young woman who enters a Nazi POW camp to be with the man she loves.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
The Paris Hours
by Alex George

One day in the City of Light. One night in search of lost time.

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The House on Fripp Island

The House on Fripp Island
by Rebecca Kauffman

A taut, page-turning novel of secrets and strife.



Solve this clue:

B I T T Water

and be entered to win..

Books that     

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.