In her coming-of-age memoir, refugee advocate Luma Mufleh writes of her tumultuous journey to reconcile her identity as a gay Muslim woman and a proud Arab-turned-American refugee.
With no word for “gay” in Arabic, Luma may not have known what to call the feelings she had growing up in Jordan during the 1980s, but she knew well enough to keep them secret. It was clear that not only would her family have trouble accepting her, but trapped in a conservative religious society, she could’ve also been killed if anyone discovered her sexuality. Luma spent her teenage years increasingly desperate to find a way out, and finally found one when she was accepted into college in the United States. Once there, Luma begins the agonizing process of applying for political asylum, which ensures her safety—but causes her family to break ties with her.
Becoming a refugee in America is a rude awakening, and Luma must rely on the grace of friends and strangers alike as she builds a new life and finally embraces her full self. Slowly, she’s able to forge a new path forward with both her biological and chosen families, eventually founding Fugees Family, a nonprofit dedicated to the education and support of refugee children in the United States.
As hopeful as it is heartrending, From Here is a coming-of-age memoir about one young woman’s search for belonging and the many meanings of home for those who must leave theirs.
This affecting memoir by refugee advocate Mufleh (Learning America) chronicles her internal struggle to reconcile her identity as a gay Arab Muslim woman. Via clear-eyed prose, the author tells of her first crush on a girl, in fifth grade, and how she assumed that "if people knew, they would hate me." In subsequent years, Mufleh experienced feelings of shame surrounding her sexuality and details, in matter-of-fact-feeling lines, her suicidal ideation and attempts to kill herself. She eventually leaves for Smith College, where she believes she will have more freedom to explore her sexual orientation. But when her coming-out prompts her father to use his political connections to bring her back to Jordan, she seeks asylum in the U.S. Mufleh is both loving and critical in her portrayal of her family and culture. Separated into two parts—one that outlines Mufleh's privileged childhood in Amman, Jordan, and one that recounts her collegiate years in America—this poignant reflection on choice, family, and living one's truth provides insight into Mufleh's relationship with her heritage, and how these experiences helped shape her identity and advocacy work. Ages 12–up.