A Place for Us was the January book for our #GalsandBookPals buddy read over on Instagram and I am so glad we chose this book. Without this group I likely would have put this on my Goodreads ‘Want-to-Read’ with the many other book I think sound somewhat interesting and have received good review but just don’t immediately draw me in. I don’t usually end up reading these books.
A Place For Us follows the lives of an Indian-American-Muslim family. Told in differing perspective and in a timeline that jumps around every chapter we meet Layla and Rafiq and their 3 children Hadia, Huda and Amar. The first introduction to the family is at Haida’s wedding, where the estranged Amar will reunite with his family for the first time in 3 years. The family is both hopeful for a reconciliation and nervous that the past will rear it’s head and conflict will reignite. From this point Mirza takes on a decades long sweeping journey into the past that explores how Amar came to be estranged from his family. In a breathtaking and emotional manner the family dynamics of Layla, Rafiq, Amar, Hadia are revealed from the crucial moments of division and the undercurrent of love and devotion. Explorations of faith, culture, immigration and race are highlighted by exploring the daily loves of a family that is full of love, but trying and failing to remain whole.
I know there are many who found the lack of a structured timeline frustrating – jumping from the kids as babies to teenagers to young children and back, but I personally found it added to the narrative and Mirza does a fantastic job of slowly building the tensions and conflicts in the family in a non-linear fashion. For those of you who hesitate to pick up this book, or are struggling through the beginning, I have to recommended either picking up or finishing it. Part 4 will blow you away even if you didn’t love parts 1-3 as much as I did. The only thing that holds me back from giving this book 5 stars is that I feel Huda’s voice was missing in the story. As a fellow middle child I wanted her impressions and feelings about the family and felt that would have added a more objective view on the tensions and relationships in the family.
Overall, this is a fabulous debut novel from Mirza and so impressive given how young she is. I will be reading any future books she comes out with.
Book Cover Image Credits: Goodreads