AN INSTANT NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER • NATIONAL BOOK AWARD “5 UNDER 35” NOMINEE • NEW YORK’S “ONE BOOK, ONE NEW YORK” PICK
Named One of the Best Books of the Year: Washington Post • NPR • People • Refinery29 • Parade • BuzzFeed
“Mirza writes with a mercy that encompasses all things.”—Ron Charles, Washington Post
Hailed as “a book for our times” (Christiane Amanpour), A Place for Us is a deeply moving and resonant story of love, identity, and belonging.
As an Indian wedding gathers a family back together, parents Rafiq and Layla must reckon with the choices their children have made. There is Hadia: their headstrong, eldest daughter, whose marriage is a match of love and not tradition. Huda, the middle child, determined to follow in her sister’s footsteps. And lastly, their estranged son, Amar, who returns to the family fold for the first time in three years to take his place as brother of the bride. What secrets and betrayals have caused this close-knit family to fracture? Can Amar find his way back to the people who know and love him best?
A Place for Us takes us back to the beginning of this family’s life: from the bonds that bring them together, to the differences that pull them apart. All the joy and struggle of family life is here, from Rafiq and Layla’s own arrival in America from India, to the years in which their children—each in their own way—tread between two cultures, seeking to find their place in the world, as well as a path home.
A Place for Us is a book for our times: an astonishingly tender-hearted novel of identity and belonging, and a resonant portrait of what it means to be an American family today. It announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Fatima Farheen Mirza’s gripping debut explores the inner life of a Muslim American family with both awe-inspiring intimacy and eye-opening insight about larger issues. Layla and Rafiq immigrated from India as newlyweds after an arranged marriage; their three children were born in the U.S. Mirza's novel follows the family as they navigate the push and pull of tradition and the culture of their adopted Northern California suburban home. Alternating among the family members' viewpoints, A Place for Us shows how a single moment in time can appear vastly different depending on where you're standing. It’s a beautiful story about finding home: within your country and in your own family.
Bonds of faith and family strengthen and strangle in this promising but flawed debut, set in a close-knit Indian Muslim community in California. The story opens with the wedding of Hadia, golden child of Layla and Rafiq and older sister to Huda and Amar, skillfully setting up the central tension: why has Amar, the troubled youngest, been absent from the family, and can he be drawn back? The plot then shuffles backward and forward, revisiting plot points with few signposts to let the reader know when exactly key events an untimely death, the snuffing out of a forbidden relationship, a family-rupturing fight take place. Perspective alights on various characters, revealing more about some than others; middle child Huda remains nearly opaque, and early references to Rafiq's violent temper are all but dropped. For the final 80 pages, Rafiq narrates, and the story at last coheres. He delivers a heartrending reflection on his role in his son's partly self-imposed banishment: "It is in these moments that the fabric of my life reveals itself to be an illusion: thinking that I am fine, we all are, that we could grow around your loss like a tree that bends around a barrier or wound." Mirza displays a particular talent for rendering her characters' innermost emotional lives, signaling a writer to watch.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Can’t escape liberal media in a book of fiction
It’s basically a multigenerational muslim family story told in the format of This Is Us tv series. The best part of the book are the characters and their relationships with each other. I can see 9/11 being an important event in the story of this family. The other date, 2016, seems planted. Is it there to please Hollywood? Nothing happened of significance to the family. It dates the book. In 5 years a junior in high school will read this book cause it’s on a summer reading list for school and have no idea what the writer is talking about. Just a way to irritate 60 plus million potential readers. The rest of the book is fine. I enjoyed peeking into an American family experience. Particularly the wedding customs.
This book is a must read for all Muslim American families. The weight of feeling put into these pages is inspiring. Thank you so this book Ms Mirza!
This is a powerful book about a family of five. It is skillfully and lovingly crafted so that we come to understand each character’s view of their own individual and their shared lives. We learn of their mistakes, misunderstandings, and love for one another. This is about a Muslim family facing a modern world but it could be about any family with strict cultural and religious influences. In fact, the roles of father and son should be examined by any parent struggling to relate to a powerful child. My only criticism is that some of it could have been a bit shorter.