A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us

Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place for Us is a novel of love, identity and belonging that eloquently examines what it means to be both American and Muslim.

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Named One of the Best Books of 2018 by: Washington Post • NPR People  Refinery29 • Parade • Buzzfeed • Real Simple 

"Mirza writes with a mercy that encompasses all things."  RON CHARLES, Washington Post

"A Place for Us is a book for our times." — CHRISTIANE AMANPOUR

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

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.

Advance Galley Reviews

Gosh, this was lovely. A complex story, beautifully written. It kept me on the edge of my seat waiting to see how things would play out.

Good story. Interesting characters and details about a different perspective from an entirely different culture. Really enjoyed this book.

What I appreciate about A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is that it writes about an Indian American Muslim family not as a statement on the American diaspora, the immigrant experience, or diversity but just as a family that is part of the fabric of America. This nation is a melting pot with diverse traditions reflecting diverse backgrounds. Yet, at the end of the day, parents, children, and families face so many of the same challenges and struggles no matter what the cultural background. It seems obvious when stated, but so often, as readers and as people, we look for the differences rather than the commonalities. So, kudos to SJP for Hogarth and Ms. Mirza for presenting the story of an American family. Read my complete review at http://www.memoriesfrombooks.com/2018/08/a-place-for-us.html Reviewed for Penguin First to Read program.

My rating: 5 out of 5 stars How could I not give 5 stars to a book that touched me so deeply and resonated with me in such a way that closing the cover after reaching the end of this poignant story made me feel like I was leaving a part of myself behind? This is the third book I’ve read so far this year that broke my heart and moved me to the point of tears, but the first one where I experienced such a deep connection emotionally that, upon finishing the book, I felt utterly depleted, as though the wind had been knocked out of me. Even now, as I attempt to put into words how I feel about this astoundingly beautiful debut novel, I am struggling because nothing I write will do justice to how good this book was and the profound impact it had on me. It is not often that I am rendered essentially speechless after reading a book and have to fight hard to gather my thoughts as well as express them in a somewhat coherent manner – yes, THIS book had THAT type of effect on me. Even though I do not share the same culture or religion as the family at the center of this story, I am blown away by how strongly I was still able to relate to each of the characters as well as how similar our experiences were on so many levels. Indeed, this was one of the most unique aspects of this book and absolutely a reflection of the author Fatima Farheen Mirza’s immense literary talent – I was floored by the author’s ability to explore with such depth the complexities of family dynamics against the backdrop of one particular culture and religion, yet still make the story so universally resonant with those of us who may not share the same beliefs. Mirza’s writing is exquisite, beautiful, emotionally nuanced to the point that it draws you in from the very first page, grabs a hold of your heart, and never lets go. This is the kind of writing that is quiet and subtle, yet rich in its coverage of the topics that matter – family dynamics, culture and tradition, community, religion, identity and belonging. Each character was so tenderly and gently drawn at the hands of this talented writer, yet the portrayal was so realistic and authentic that there were many moments where I felt I was reading about a real Indian-American Muslim family learning to exist in a world where the culture was so different from their own. This was a family I grew to love – the parents Rafiq and Layla, their two daughters Hadia and Huda, and the youngest, their only son Amar whose path, even as early as birth, was already rocky and perhaps destined to “not fit in” with the norm. I love how the story alternated between each character’s point of view -- the same events, life moments at times told from a different character’s perspective, the differences in interpretation of each other’s words, actions, facial expressions, body language, and how all these nuances in each character’s interactions with one another trigger a myriad of reactions and decisions that eventually altered the course of their lives, for better or for worse. As the story progressed and I got to delve deep into the thoughts and feelings of each character, I began to see a little bit of myself in each of the siblings and it was at that point that I knew this book would affect me on personal level. I resonated with eldest sister Hadia – the part of her that was studious, responsible, obedient, the rock in the family who can always be counted on to do the right thing, to follow the right path, to sacrifice her wants and desires in order to fulfill the obligations expected of her – I completely understood the inner conflict she had to go through in trying to reconcile her genuine love and affection for her family with the feelings of resentment and constant yearning for recognition and praise from her parents that, at times, got the better of her and influenced her decisions. I connected with middle sister Huda – the sibling who was most self-assured and comfortable in her own shoes, who was the voice of reason, who wore her heart on her sleeve and was never afraid to tell things like it is, to be up front and direct, to admonish her siblings when they screw up, yet in times of need, stand loyally by their side and be that shoulder to cry on or that source of comfort during moments of despair. And yes, I absolutely resonated with Amar – the wayward son, the baby of the family, the sensitive soul who always felt everything so deeply, who was kind-hearted but rebellious, the apple of his mother’s eye and the sibling who received the most outward love and attention, well-liked by everyone in the community, yet he was the one who struggled the most with his “place” in the world and felt that he never truly “belonged,” a young man constantly striving for acceptance, self-worth, identity. The last part of the story, told entirely from the father Rafiq’s point of view, very nearly broke me – from the first page of that section, the tears flowed non-stop and by the end, I was outright crying. Hearing the narrative and many of the same defining moments from the earlier sections, this time told from the father’s first person perspective -- the one character who had remained silent for the most part throughout majority of the story finally giving his account – it was stirring and powerful, heartfelt and inspiring, yet at the same time tremendously heart-breaking. It made me think about my own relationship with my parents, the many arguments we’ve had over the years, and reminded me how fragile family relationships can be, how a family can love each other deeply yet make decisions in each other’s best interests that end up hurting each other the most. This last section brought the story full circle and was particularly thought-provoking, albeit emotionally draining. Many reviews out there have sung the praises of this book and rightfully so! There isn’t much I can add that hasn’t already been eloquently stated by others so I won’t attempt to put all my thoughts here but just know that even now, a day after finishing this book, I am still thinking about it, revisiting certain scenes and allowing Mirza’s beautifully written words to once again flow through my mind. This one is highly recommended, without a doubt! Received ARC from SJP for Hogarth via Penguin First to Read program. Review published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2355887252) and also my blog Book Ramblings (https://bkwmbookramblings.blogspot.com/2018/07/review-place-for-us-by-fatima-farheen.html)

4 stars. A beautiful story of Indian-Muslim immigrant family, living in California. The story starts with Amar returning to his sister's wedding after an estrangement. Amar is a kind of person, who I feel is trying to fit in his family desperately and the inability leads him far away from his family. Story slowly opens up and we get to know that everyone has a share of story to tell, a share of secret, a share of fears, a share of insecurities, a share of pride to bring forward. An empathetic and capably written. The length of the book was a bit annoying, but a very heartrending story. Happy Reading

Fatima Farheen Mirza's "A Place for Us" is a wonderful novel about an Indian American family's life. Beginning at the wedding of Hadia, the oldest daughter, and following the stories of each member of the family before and during the wedding, the reader is able to explore the complexities of an immigrant family's adjustment to being American while staying connected to beliefs and traditions from their parents' past. This novel is an important and timely one, and I strongly recommend it. Thank you to Penguin's First to Read for introducing me to a new author whose future work I look forward to following.

?? ?? ?? ?? ?? 5 Stars!!! “That was one of the first times I thought about it in that way — that there was a ‘they,’ people who assumed something about me, my family.” “A Place for Us”is excellent and timely. This beautifully written debut novel about a Muslim Indian-American family had me in tears at several points in the book. Highly recommended.

I had a hard time keeping the names straight, so I confused the characters several times at the beginning. With that being said the story itself was great. The conflict and struggles within the plot made it a great read. The emotion that is within made me want to read it again, to make sure I had every detail. A really great read. I look for this to be a book club read. Strong story about how 9/11's aftermath affected this Muslim family in the USA and how they fight to keep tradition and yet still be American. The ending really lacks full resolution to the story which is why this would make for a great book club study. Just my thoughts on an ARC book.

I love the characterization in this book and the sense of place it has -- the writing style and I didn't particularly mesh well, but I think it was more of a "me" issue than an actual issue with the book. Overall, it was a solid read!

This book is a beautifully written examination of a Muslim family who struggles with their religious convictions in post 9/11 America and with the conflict between father and son. It is at once informative and heartbreaking. Part Four, in particular, made me weep.

This book is breathtakingly beautiful and is a heart-wrenching story about an immigrant, Muslim Indian American family, where the parents have immigrated to the US and the three children are first generation Americans. The book begins with eldest daughter, Hadia's, wedding, and we quickly learn that the youngest child, Hadia's brother, Amar, has been estranged from the family for some time. After that opening, the book flashes forward and backwards in time revealing stories and snippets from each member of the family's lives, revealing piece by piece how they've come to the point where they are. Each story shares something about a character that shapes who they are and is insightful about what it means to be a Muslim, immigrant, or first generation individual in America. As a first generation Hindu Indian American woman, I could relate greatly to the characters and their trials and tribulations. The one criticism I would have for the book is that I walked away without complete resolution. I like books that provide answers to most, if not all, of my questions, and I was left with a major question unanswered and unresolved. Nonetheless, I enjoyed this book and would recommend it to others. Beautifully written, evocative, and hopeful. Thank you to First to Read for my free ARC of the book!

An well written look into Muslims. It's an intriguing look into what it means to be both Muslim and American in post-9/11 America. It's definitely worth reading.

I liked how the author told a story on the other side of 9/11. Those who are lumped with being terrorists because of their religion. It shows how foolish people can be. How they confuse Saudis with Indians. And how people will direct their anger because of fear. Also, I enjoyed the family dynamic. Fatima Farheen Mirza needs to tell more stories. I feel head over heels for A Place For Us.

I enjoyed this book. I am not Muslim but I got a better view and understanding on how their culture is. This book is about an Indian-American Muslim family living in US. It’s about family, love, relationships. Part 4 really was an interesting one for me. I found it to be heart-wrenching and moving. I received a free copy of this eARC from first to read in exchange for an honest review.

This is the only time I can ever remember feeling like there’s something wrong with me for not loving a book. Though it’s only being published today, A Place for Us is already near-universally adored, and it sounded like a book that was right up my alley: a sprawling portrait of a dysfunctional family is the blueprint for so many of my favorite books and I didn’t see any reason for A Place for Us to be an exception. And it’s undeniably a beautiful novel. It follows an Indian-American Muslim family living in California, who are gathered at the beginning of the novel for their eldest daughter Hadia’s wedding. We find out that the entire family is estranged from their only son, Amar, and the rest of the novel explores the factors that led to this fracturing. The prose style is simple and elegant, and the nonlinear chronology is handled deftly, constructing a portrait of this family that comes together seamlessly by the end. Others have described this book as heart-wrenching and moving, and I see where it should have been both of those things. But the whole time I was reading I felt like there was a veil between me and these characters, who all felt to me more like constructs than real human beings. A Place for Us hits all the beats you’d expect it to from the very first page. This is a story that’s so simple, so unsurprising, that it entirely hinges on its readers’ emotional investment for there to be any payoff. And I hate to say it, but these characters just weren’t interesting to me. Each of their trajectories practically wrote itself, and I started to find it tedious that such straightforward ideas were being communicated in such a circuitous manner. We could have easily shaved off 100 pages and essentially been left with the exact same book. But it’s worth reiterating that I’m in the minority, and it’s a sort of disorienting feeling to be left cold by a book which promises emotional resonance above all else. I’m glad that others have been able to connect with this book in a way that I did not. But if you’re looking for a heartbreaking family saga, I would personally recommend Pachinko or East of Eden or Everything I Never Told You over A Place for Us in a heartbeat.

I started this book thinking it would be a nice story about a family, a nice introduction to Indian-American-Muslim culture. The writing started with a hopeful event, Hadia's wedding, and her brother has come back from some sort of absence to attend it. Sounds lovely. Then the snippets came, one by one, from Haida's point of view -- the responsible, caring older sister -- from Layla's view -- the mother -- and from Amar's point of view -- the youngest child, only son, problematic and charming. The anecdotes jump back and forth in time, giving outlines and then filling in details, from good memories to small betrayals and petty jealousies. I relaxed into the story. I was aware I was getting a cultural education, at first, and then I forgot about it as I was pulled into the family's lives. And then it turned darker, more painful, more bewildering, less sensible. I had so many objections, so many questions. I still have questions, and maybe some objections. But I was pulled deeply into this novel and, and I resurface, have to state how amazing it is. I hope this doesn't get shunted off to be a cultural education (or, God forbid, "women's fiction"), because it is a remarkable literary exploration of family. A family that should have worked, who loved each other, who should have been able to make it all work and somehow did not. Or perhaps the story is not over and they do. I was salty about turning the last page -- surely there's more? In this family of five, only three voices tell most of the story. And then, in Part 4 of four parts, we finally hear Rafiq's voice, the father's telling of his bewilderment at parenting. I find it puzzling that we never hear from Huda, the middle child, second daughter, except perhaps in a conversation or two, and never subjectively. It begs the question of why she was necessary to the story, but she certainly was. Maybe she is the reader's placeholder in the story. Many of the novels in my 5-star category have a poetry to them, some magic or mysticism, some pondering of the universe. This doesn't really have those, with the possible exception of the last, and I find I am amazed at how the specificity of the story still lends it universality. How can three children in the same home be so different? How can their similarities pull them apart? How can we do better than to give our all to each other? What do we really believe of each other? I'm very thankful that I got a copy to review from First to Read.

I loved this book! It is a novel about a family; it develops each character and contains complicated people and perspectives. It also raises very poignant and personal questions about individuality and faith, and the personal relationships of the characters with each other and God. I empathized with the characters, sympathized with a lot of their impulses and decisions in their lives; at the same time, I wanted to protect and shield them because I grew to care for them so much. I am not Muslim but I grew up in a somewhat strict household in India and I related with how Hadia and Amar (and Huda, presumably) navigated through the rules of their family life and the world. As I said, I loved the book! And although the narrative didn't feel incomplete, I just wish I could come to know Huda as I did the other characters (probably because I am a middle child :) Fatima Farheen Mirza has done an excellent job on her debut novel and I will look forward to more of her writing.

A place for us illustrates so beautifully the bi-cultural life of a family whose experiences of dysfunction, hardships, and accomplishments help to shape their future. Even though I am not of the same religion or culture, the similarities of the bi-cultural story in America resonates deep into my soul. I loved the individual characters in the book. From Amar’s story about wanting to buy expensive designer shoes to Hadia’s limitations as the eldest daughter. The struggles with gender roles within the family/community, a strong father with traditional cultural values, generational clashes, and the fact that the kids in the book simply just wanted to feel like they belonged without being asked: “where are you from?” These things I empathize with on so many levels. The book had a good balance of light comedic moments right down to the serious heartbreaking issues of identity crisis faced by many bi-cultural families. I related most to Hadia’s character, as the eldest daughter of refugee parents I found it gratifying to read her story. I cannot wait to purchase my own hard copy of this book.

A Place for Us was a beautifully written novel. By the end of this novel, I felt this was a story that needed to be written, that was urged onto the page. This novel shows that with such simplicity and delicate imagery a soulful, heartbreaking story can jump off the page. Although I am not Muslim, I feel I better understand the culture and the high expectations of those who devote their beliefs to this religion. However, A Place for Us not only educates the reader about a culture they may not know enough about, it also connects this culture and faith to American Society and the issues that many young people in America face when interacting with their family, especially parents. The author did an amazing job at structuring the novel. Each family member (except Huda, which I did notice throughout) had their perspective represented. I found it interesting that throughout the novel, Rafiq's perspective was like a shadow hovering behind the other characters and their point of view. It was exceptional that the last part of the novel was told in his voice, his point of view, and very much his perspective. I think this would have been stronger, though, if Huda's perspective had more of a presence. She was very much the middle child and nearly invisible throughout the novel. As any brilliant novel, the ending is not nearly as important as the entirety of the book. I walked away without complete resolution, but a fullness in my heart for this family, for the difficulties they faced, overcame and continued to overcome together.

At the heart of A Place For Us was beauty. Weaving the story through past and present, we arrive in the book at Hadia's wedding and learn about the entire family and their journey in California. Trying to hold on to your beliefs when you're in a world that wants nothing to do with them can be hard. We read of love and loss, and see great strength. All the characters were strong, they were well-written and completely engaging. Each of them had a story to tell. But I enjoyed Hadia's strength, choosing not for an arranged marriage but choosing to marry for love. I suffered along with Amar. A Place For Us is warm, heartbreaking, and incredibly emotional. A great read.

This is one of the best books I've read in a long time. A Muslim immigrant family in the US as they grow up - from roughly the 80s to these most recent elections - and the relationships between them. Each character is so intricately developed, and each relationship its own entity. The writing is beautiful, with a cadence and rhythm that reminds me of other favorites, but uncovering the family's history is truly the heart of the book. I identified with so many of the conflicting views, and I found it to be absolutely heartbreaking in the best way possible. I struggled to put it down for any reason. It is beautiful, poignant, and heartwrenching, and I would be lying if I said I didn't cry at least once (especially during the final section). I wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone and everyone, because all familial relationships can identify.

This is a beautiful written novel about a family with joys, struggles, regrets, hope, and love. The family is an Indian Muslim family with deep religious rituals, requirements and restrictions that often clash with modern day America especially during the times in our history when religious differences were not tolerated. But it’s also a familiar family because it suffers day to day issues like all families. The characters were all well developed, and despite their shortcomings, I loved them all. I was truly sorry to see this book come to an end

Summary: Layla and Raqim had an arranged marriage and, both coming to America as adults, feel the ties to India and their religion very strongly. They want the best world for their children to grow up in- a strong Muslim community, but also a place where they can get better care and education. Can they marry their very strict religious beliefs to the very free American culture? How do you instill your morals into your children and still let them be themselves? As the eldest, Hadia is the most thoughtful and hard working. She had always been told it was up to her to be an example for the others. To gain her father’s notice, she is more strict with her religion, and far more studious. She wants to be the one that her parents will rely on…. but she was born a girl. Huda is more quiet in her beliefs and more outspoken. Of them all she seems to be the one best able to marry religion and culture. Amar is the boy his father wanted…. and can’t understand. While he loves the community and togetherness of the religion, the rules are stifling and he never feels like he can get there. More prone to thinking about things, more sensitive, he finds it hard to be himself and part of his parents religion. As they grow, have their first loves and discover themselves, what will happen to the family? When one strays from the path set before them, can they bend…. or will they shatter? How do you mend a broken home? My Thoughts: I was blown away by this book. It was poignant and heart breaking, and I found myself connecting well to these well developed, interesting characters. I loved Amar, broken as he was, for his kindness and the love he held for his community even if he couldn’t figure out how to be part of it. Told in multiple points of view I got a good idea of what each character thought and felt. It was extremely interesting to see the same memory through different eyes, to he how it affected them. I especially liked being able to see into Layla and Rafiq’s minds. It helped me to understand the parents and culture in a way that would have been impossible otherwise. I do wish Huda had gotten a chapter, though, as she is less fleshed out than the others. I think my favorite part was toward the end, where Rafiq was given a voice. Before then, he was a little static. You saw him through Layla and the children’s eyes and they never understood what drove him. He was sometimes benevolent, but often overly strict and then sorry for loosing control. It is only in his mind he can show all his pain, regrets and desires. It is there where I got the full measure of the man. The book had a steady, if slower pace, and melded smoothly from one voice to another. My one complaint is that there is no rhythm to the memories. It’s hard, sometimes, to immediately pick up where you are in the character’s lives. It becomes apparent within the page, but you still have that one jarring moment where you wonder how old the characters are and what they have already been through. I find that is often the case with books written this way, but it never ceases to upset me a tiny bit. I like things a bit neater, I guess, more lineal. With all this in mind, I still adored the book. I loved the characters and the descriptions of places, community and routine. I loved that each one showed their vulnerability, their regret, and thus were more human. It made them easy to connect with and love. For me, this is a five star book. On the adult content scale, there is some language; but more than that is substance abuse. Drugs and alcohol. I don’t feel like these things were glorified in any way and was actually impressed with how the author handled addiction. I would still let my niece read this, but it is important to understand that it is there. I give it a four. Bear in mind, this is an adult book. I only do the adult content scale because of two reasons: Not all books that are in the YA section are, in my mind, actually appropriate for teens of all ages, and yet at 12 and thirteen that’s what they feel they should be reading. When my niece was ten she wanted the “big girl books”. She had gone through all the books for her age, and her vocabulary was up to speed…. but was she ready to read sex scenes, drug use, foul language, and violence? Was she ready for all of that? No. One of us had to read it first, discuss with her mother what we felt might give her pause. Then, after Jules had read it, there would be a discussion. I started adding this to my reviews so that you already knew going in what might be inappropriate for your young adult. I was lucky enough to receive an eARC of this book from First to Read in exchange for an honest review. My thanks.

This book is a very good read. Although it is hard to follow at times it tells a story about past, present and future. I will be watching to see what else this author has to offer in the future. Thank you too Penguin First to Read for an Early release in exchange for my honest opinion.

"I used the wrong words. I acted the wrong ways. I will wait, until you are ready. I will always wait for you." This is a father's message to his estranged son in this book about an Indian-American Muslim family living in California. Rafiq and Layla have three children, Hadia, Huda and Amar, and at the beginning of the book the family has gathered for the wedding of Hadia, the eldest. Even Amar, who has not seen his family in years, has returned for the event. From his birth, Amar was always slightly separate from his family and their faith and, as a result, an inordinate amount of attention was directed towards him (both within his family and in this book). The book tells the story of what happened before, during and after the wedding, in no particular order, and that was my major problem with this book. It seemed like the author had written the plot points on index cards, tossed them into the air and then wrote them down in the book in the order in which she had picked them up. This randomized chronology is a trend, and I detest it. My favorite part of the book was the last section told from the point of view of Rafiq because it illuminated his experience as a father, immigrant and Muslim in a touching and straightforward way that the choppy storytelling in the rest of the book muted. Despite my quibbles with the manner in which this book was written, I found it very moving and interesting and I would be happy to read more by this author. I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.

I don’t know that there has been a book that I have changed my mind about so many times while reading it. This may sound like a negative, but it really is not. The writing was beautiful throughout, but my feelings on the execution changed with each section of the book. For the beginning quarter of the book, I was often confused. The timeline seemed to jump around between paragraphs. I was still trying to learn all the characters, so having the shifting timelines made that a bit more difficult and confusing. However, the premise of this story sounded so promising that I needed to continue. The second part was much easier to follow. Now that I was more invested in the characters, I cared about what had happened in the past and how it affected the present. From here on, I was all in on the story. The third section was interesting, but the final section was incredible. If the entire book had been as emotionally and introspective as this final section, this could have been an all-time favorite book for me. I felt so much for the characters, and actually want to re-read the book to see if this insight increases my enjoyment of the previous parts. This is definitely a must re-read book. Thank you to Penguin First to Read for an eARC in exchange for my honest opinions.

I was completely enthralled with this book and was devastated to see it end. There was a lot of complexity and loved that the father's viewpoint was told last. This will be an author to watch in the years to come. I think the only criticism that I would have had is what happened to Amar after he disappeared the second time? Maybe this would be another book. Thanks for the ARC, first to read.

The first novel for Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint for Hogarth and it’s a winner. This novel is about family, yes, but it’s about the youngest sibling of three of an American family that has been treated as foreigners: Amar. It’s about the expectations of family traditions, of written-off love that no one believes in, it’s Amar who bears the grunt of growing up in a family where the expectations lead him away from his true loves: the one who got away and being a poet. As time streams from one character to the next, it’s Amar’s story that holds all the keys to this story and finally to its true one of a father to his son, a father to his children, and a man to his wife. It’s all here: stories of sibling rivalry, oppression, racism, sexism, the daunting task of becoming who you were meant to be and what happens to the ones who get left behind. This novel is devastating, lengthy but pure, and with not a word to spare. It’s filled with stories upon stories that matter and the last third of the book on an afterlife debate and a reflection of life was one I couldn’t bear for long because it was so heartbreaking. Truly a literary work and one that everyone who has the courage to should read.

Destined to appeal to fans of Kristin Hannah, Zadie Smith, and Isabelle Allende this grand multigenerational saga marks an impressive debut from a major new voice. Of particular interest to those looking for a new book club title, Fatima Farheen Mirza's ambitious opus (the first release published on Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint) is written with poetic eye for the senses and is a must for literary fiction lovers looking for 2018's Next Big Thing.

“A Place For Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirna is a beautiful book.about a Shia Muslim family living in the US. Initially I thought the book would principally be about a culure and religion maybe not well understood in America . It explores breaking with the confines set up by family beliefs. While the book certainly explores that, it was more about the universal truths of family and the strength and constraints that supports our lives. Much of the book is related through the mother, eldest daughter and youngest son. Very close to the end, the father weighs in and have your tissues handy. Very moving review of his family and particularly his relationship with his son. Since the reader only has other family members take on him ,when we finally hear from him, it is very moving. I did feel that the middle child gets the short shift. She mostly does what is expected so not that interesting of a character but maybe that is the plight of the middle child. Many every day life occurrences in a family are depicted.The mother speaks of her great appreciation for a teacher who sees what she sees in her son, who is usually on the wrong side of everything. As mentioned the father’s review of events is very powerful because you think you know him. His complexity adds a lot to the narrative. A ton of regrets from everyone in the family, each thinking if they had done or said something else, the son would be on a life path similar to their own, ...probably not. The novel is full of regret but not so maudlin that it destroys a very satisfying read.

A PLACE FOR US tells the story of a Muslim couple who immigrate to the US for work and to eventually raise their three children here. Even though it's a fictional tale, the novel is particularly insightful as to a Muslim living in the US in today's climate as they practice their customs and religion. I especially liked Part Four in which the father (Baba) reflected on his family and his wayward son Amar from his point-of-view. A moving, excellent read. My thanks to Penguin First to Read for the ARC.

Wow. This book was so beautifully written that I am in awe. I'm usually not drawn to novels like this but I am so glad to have read it.

I feel like there’s only so many times you can say a book is amazing before people stop listening but yes I did happen to read a lot of books that topped my all time favourites list in within days of one another and this one has definitely earned the title of my all time favourite book. A Place For Us is about the struggles that come from living between two cultures, figuring out your identity, loss, guilt, trying to figure out where exactly you went wrong. From the start of the book you find out that Hadia is getting married and for the first time in years her family is reunited with Amar, the youngest child and only son in a Muslim-American family. Throughout the book you get to see every moment leading up to the wedding through several points of view. I generally don’t like books that retell the same events from different perspectives as I find them to be repetitive and after the first few perspectives add very little to the overall story but I didn’t find that to be the case at all with this book. After reading every perspective I felt like I finally understood what happened and whose fault it was, until I got to the next one and after the very last one I was as confused about where things went wrong and whose fault it was as the characters were. I found every single character to be incredibly relatable and I’d never had as strong an emotional connection and reaction to a book ever before, the more time passes the more my love for it grows and I can’t stop thinking about it and I really recommend you pick up this book (though if you’re not a fan of character-driven books this is probably not the book for you).

Thank you to First to Read for my free digital copy advance copy of A Place for Us. I initially for A Place for Us a difficult book for get into. However, I stuck with it and was pleased that I did. I am the type of reader that will read a certain way into a book and then will skip to the end of the book before going back to where I left off. I did not do so with this book which is high praise from me. I should note that the book itself skips among different timelines and among different character’s point’s of views. I did not find it hard to follow. A Place for Us examines the lives of married couple who have come to America from India, and their American born children. Many plot lines are viewed from more than one character’s reference point. We see what drives that person, be it religion, family, culture, or a mixture of the aforementioned. This novel is thought-provoking and makes one stop and think how relating to one another in our own relationships, through asking questions and for help, whether with family or friends, may change outcomes.

There isn't much to add to the deservedly glowing reviews that Mirza's debut novel is garnering. A Place for Us is a beautiful character-driven novel, and while the characters are all complex and realistic, what I find special in this novel is the interactions between these characters. The way the characters speak to one another and what they share with another, and especially the secrets they keep from one another, is what drives this novel. Mirza finds beauty in simple moments so that even the mundane, quotidian moments feel important and relevant. I did find the novel long and wished the final book had been condensed a bit. However, this is a stunning book and if this is any reflection of what is to come from the SJP imprint (and from Mirza as well) then I look forward to reading more.

I received an advance digital copy from First to Read in exchange for my candid review. I would give this four and a half out of five stars after my initial reading of this emotional family saga. In A Place for Us, we follow the lives of Layla and Rafiq, Indian Muslim immigrants to the United States, and their children, Hadia, Huda, and Amar. This beautiful story explores family through daily interactions, familial and cultural expectations, loss, hurt, betrayal, happiness. We begin at the wedding of Hadia. The youngest child, Amar, estranged from the family, has returned for the wedding. The events of the wedding and the vignettes of events, before and after, from the point-of-view of various characters lead us on an intensely emotional journey that moves through time. Often I find this device off-putting, here, however, I found the movement natural as the events, presented in hindsight, causally link to the interactions of the present and the relationships among all of the characters. Many lessons are lying in this novel but, perhaps, the most poignant being even acting with the best of intentions and the belief of doing what was the ‘right thing to do’ one can hurt the ones we love most.

This is a brilliant and beautiful study of a family from a religion and culture somewhat unfamiliar to me. It was extremely poignant and touching. It tells a story that can help us remember that no matter how different we are, really we are all very similar. The themes are simple but universal. Personally, I had a very strong emotional response to this book.

There are so many lessons that this book gives us. The most important is that it is very easy to love someone and not show them. How easy it is to push people away just by not speaking your thoughts. This book does a great job of weaving together the points of view from different characters. By doing this we are able to see the same events from these differing views. The timeline jumps around frequently without any real indication of when the story is in the timeline, such as indicating the year, but it is very easy to determine what timeframe the story is at by paying attention to the events that are mentioned. Normally I don't think this type of jumping around works, but from my perspective it flowed very well. This was a very touching story and is one of the most amazing stories I have read in a long time.

Married couple Rafiq and Layla grew up in India but moved to the United States to raise their three children. Their eldest daughter, Hadia, is set marry which should be a cause for great celebration. However, there is tension in the air as Amar, the youngest sibling and only son, has come back for the wedding after a long estrangement from his family. This is a story that follows the lives of this family as they deal with love, loss, resentment, and regret. This is definitely one of those family sagas in which you see how actions and events from years ago have led to how things currently stand within the family. I liked reading the different perspectives of the family members about key moments that really led each person on their own personal journey and the one as a family. My only criticism of this book is the story did jump around between characters and timelines and in some cases it was difficult at first to figure out at what time period that part of the story was coming from. Eventually, you could figure it out but it made the story feel disjointed sometimes. Culture and religion played a big role in this book and in my opinion it is what makes this story stand out a bit among other family sagas. Each character had traits that you most likely can find among your own family members. I think most of us can relate to always trying to make the right decision but years later coming to the conclusion maybe there was something different that could have been done. Overall, the book is beautifully written and I definitely recommend it. Thank you to First to Read for the advance digital copy!


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