A Place for Us

A Place for Us

A Novel

Book - 2018
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A story of family identity and belonging follows an East Indian family through the marriage of their daughter, from the parents' arrival in the United States to the return of their estranged son.
Publisher: New York : SJP for Hogarth, [2018]
Edition: First United States edition
ISBN: 9781524763558
Characteristics: 385 pages ; 25 cm


From Library Staff

List - Family dramas
HCL_fiction Apr 19, 2016

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ArapahoeAnnaL Feb 27, 2020

Skillfully builds a complex portrait of a family through telling events and details. We empathize with the characters' emotional pains and joys and as in our own lives ponder motives and consequences. Fascinating to recognize how repression of women places an untenable burden of responsibility on men; and how the fear of failing his family informs much of the father's behavior.

Dec 02, 2019

This book had all the imprints of a best selling novel. The author attended the Iowa Writers Workshop. It was published by a major publisher and included in a celebrity's book club, but I found this book to be poorly written. I thought the author was guilty throughout of telling instead of showing. The characters never seemed 3-dimensional. Above all, the writing was very confusing and hard to follow. She would start a chapter with "he" or "she" and you would have to read almost the whole chapter to figure out which character the author was highlighting. The switching back and forth in time and from different characters points of view was not successful in my opinion. It did not enhance the story, just made it more confusing.

Nov 20, 2019

The format and lack of quotation marks when remembering past conversations is very confusing. However, if you push through the first 100 or so pages, the story grips you and makes you want to keep reading despite the format.

Oct 03, 2019

Filled with beautiful description, this book is an complicated family drama. The last chapter is heartbreaking. Read it.

Jun 19, 2019

DNF - Muslin's complaining

May 18, 2019


May 15, 2019

Excellent, excellent read. Highly recommend!

CarleeMcDot Apr 25, 2019

A friend of mine (the same friend who had shared about There There) had recently read this book, so I figured I'd grab it from the library. I didn't know what it was about prior to checking it out (surprise, surprise), and, to be honest, I would say for the first half of the book I wasn't really sure what it was about. It seemed as though nothing much was happening, and it was progressing slower than I would have liked, but at the same time I couldn't put it down. Although there are some heavy topics discussed in the book (substance abuse, arranged marriage, racism, religion, etc), I think what I ended up liking more was the seemingly mundane. The drama was relatable because many of us have experienced the different personalities and dynamics within a family - even if we aren't an immigrated Muslim family. The book jumped around a lot, (both with the character's point of view and the time in the story) but seeing as there weren't a ton of characters to deal with it didn't make the switches too hard to follow. I think the final part in the book (it was broken up into four parts) where it was written from the father's perspective was my favorite. (I'm hoping there's a sequel because I'd love to know where the characters go from here.) I would give it an 8 out of 10.

Apr 03, 2019

I can’t believe that this is Fatima Farheen Mirza’s 1st book, it is so well written and complex. I really enjoyed it and the glimpse it gave into another culture. I would recommend this book.

Mar 17, 2019

I read this book the same week as the horrific massacre at two mosques in New Zealand. This beautiful book tells the story of a Muslim family living in California. The parents immigrated from India to this country; the husband was already working here, and his wife joined him through an arranged marriage. They raised three children here in the US.

I wanted to read this book to learn more about Muslims and how their lives might be different from mine. What I learned is that Muslim families and their lives are much more similar to mine than they are different.

Muslim parents worry about their children and want to protect them from harm. They are proud of their children’s successes, and they worry about their children’s struggles.

Muslim children love their parents, but want to break free of parental control. They have one foot in each world, and struggle to make sense of the differences. They love the traditions of their religion, but they chafe under some constraints.

And Muslim families deal with the same life events that everyone else does: Joyous celebrations, shocking tragedies, and heartbreaking losses. Alcohol abuse and drug addiction happen in many families, no matter what the religion is. Parents are disappointed in their children in many families. Forbidden love happens in many families. Successful children in many families wonder whether they are loved for themselves, or for their successes. Children in many families make career decisions and other important decisions at least partly to please their parents (or sometimes to defy their parents).

Muslim parents (like all parents) do what they think is best for their children, even if their children disagree, and even if the parents come to realize later in life that their decisions were flawed.

There are cultural and religious differences between Muslims and me, and while they are important to the Muslim family members, they seemed far less important to me than all of the similarities. As the reader, the differences that bothered me the most were gender differences. Muslim girls have to decide at age 9 whether to wear hijab. They are greatly restricted in their interactions with boys (though that is harder to enforce in the US), in their social interactions with other girls, and in their athletic endeavors. On the other hand, all of the children in the family featured in this novel are strongly encouraged to study hard and succeed academically, and the two daughters are especially good at that. Their academic success allows them to break free of some constraints, though when a child is raised in a strong religious tradition, some things are embedded in the child’s character forever.

And there are times in this novel when members of this family experience violence, discrimination and bigotry, though that is not the main focus of the book. The reader experiences the anger and shame along with the victims.

This novel is not presented in a linear fashion; it starts at the oldest daughter’s wedding, and includes many flashbacks. Parts of the story are told from the perspective of the oldest daughter, the mother, and the son (who has many struggles in life); and the last part is told in first person by the father, who has previously been presented as strict and unyielding.

I loved this book! Though some of the family’s experiences were foreign to me, it was easy to empathize and feel what the various characters were feeling. I had tears in my eyes often while reading this book. It is not a sad story (overall), but there are sad parts, and I experienced them emotionally with the characters in the book.

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ArapahoeAnnaL Feb 27, 2020

I wanted to show her that though she had left her whole life behind, I would care for her spiritual needs as well as any other. pg. 341

I wanted you three to grow with an awareness of G-d, with that order and compass and comfort it provided, safe from the dangers I could not imagine and could not protect you from. pg. 363


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