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In the Language of Miracles

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  1,353 ratings  ·  238 reviews
A mesmerizing debut novel of an Egyptian American family and the wrenching tragedy that tears their lives apart

Samir and Nagla Al-Menshawy appear to have attained the American dream. After immigrating to the United States from Egypt, Samir successfully works his way through a residency and launches his own medical practice as Nagla tends to their firstborn, Hosaam, in
Hardcover, 288 pages
Published August 11th 2015 by Viking
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Average rating 3.72  · 
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jv poore
I cherished this beautifully bold story all along the way. Riding the waves of feels, wanting to race towards the end, yet wishing the story would never truly be over.
Diane S ☔
Jun 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
An Egyptian family, the Al-Menshawys, is torn apart when the eldest son commits a tragic crime.

The Al-Menshawys lived in New Jersey where the father, Samir, has been practicing as an internist in a small town Sumerset, New Jersey, for almost twenty years. The tragedy leads to the unraveling of everything they believed and dreamed.

Intense pain, grief and remorse encapsulated the family as the community turn against them and blame them for what happened.

Conflict within the family, as well as the
Review to come.

Note to whomever saw me crying at the bar at Washington National during my layover. I finished this book and I also started Gronk this week (on my Fantasy team). Both explain my distress.
Elyse  Walters
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
In Suburban New Jersey, an Egyptian family....
and an America family....
live next door to each. They are friends.

When a horrific tragedy happens... members of the Al-Menshawys and Bradstreet family
are each affected differently.
These two families are facing horrific grief.....battling their own pain
differently.... separately, yet connected. I felt so deeply for the Egyptian family...and the
Bradstreet family... ( but different).

I knew nothing about this story when I started reading. This book w
Apr 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
In the Language of Miracles is about the effect of one family member's tragic actions on his brother, sister, parents and grandmother. The novel explores their estrangement from their community and each other while tackling weighty issues of religion, sexism, racism.

I appreciated the complexity of the characters - especially Khaled and Nagla who are trying to come to grips with what has happened to them. I also liked the way the grandmother acted as a bridge between the various family members.
Navdeep Dhillon
Rajiv Hassib's debut is phenomenal. She tackles the complex emotions of the aftermath of grief with grace, and I love how she integrates the complexity Islam and culture and immigration so beautifully. In a small New Jersey town, the Al-Menshawys' eldest son has committed suicide and killed his ex-girlfriend. If he was white, it would be brushed aside as him being a troubled kid and just some isolated incident. Not a particularly interesting story that I would read. The complication isn't that t ...more
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received this book from Penguin Random House, in exchange for an honest review.

…Khaled remembered what he had originally intended to tell his father, what he had hoped his father would recognize: the fascinating possibility of finding the way back to a home that one has never known. No one knew how the second- or third- generation monarchs found their way back north when they had never been there before. Even now, when he was too old to believe in any of Ehsan’s fables, Khaled would sometimes
Aug 15, 2015 rated it liked it
I'm a tad perplexed about all of the five star ratings given to this book. I found it to be good, but not great as many of the other reviewers have claimed. The writing itself was good and I was actually delighted in places by the way the author interspersed sayings that can transcend cultures. However, I feel as though I've read this type of book before concerning a disconnect between America and people from other places who make the choice to settle here...and that it was handled better in tho ...more
Sep 01, 2015 rated it liked it
Still numb from their teen son's suicide/murder, a grieving Egyptian family, living in New Jersey, tries to cope with the upcoming one-year anniversary memorial for his victim, their neighbor's daughter.

I liked this very much at first -- I can't recall ever reading an Egyptian author before (author Hassib now lives full-time in America, I believe). The level of respect in the home for the father/husband, Samir and for the mother/grandmother Ehsan, was different from an American family, for sur
**(I won this book in a Goodreads Giveaway, a First Reads edition, advance copy. Lucky me!)

IN THE LANGUAGE OF MIRACLES is an exquisitely written debut novel by Rajia Hassib. The story follows the Al-Menshawy family in the aftermath of their eldest son's unbalanced and violent act, killing the girlfriend who left him and then himself. The crisis chips at their bonds, as each experiences their own grief and that jointly as a family. The efforts of the Egyptian parents to fit into the American drea
Jul 07, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
This is a well written book. The confusion and difficulty the family goes through, as immigrants in a small town, is wrenching and heartfelt. I think the reasons for the older brother's actions are not convincing or demonstrated enough. And I found the resolution, the climax, to be unsatisfactory.

I'm curious about the author's upcoming book and that's why I read this one first. I'm hoping there's been some more growth and development.
Jun 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Well, that was amazing. Deep characters, realistic situations, smooth writing. And, to top it all off, the author lives in my favorite state.
Jun 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
The older I get, the more novels about families speak to me. I think it's the realization that comes with age that every family is broken - every family imperfect in some way - that makes me gravitate toward novels that show those damaged families still struggling to live and love and remain together.

The Al-Menshawy family is certainly damaged, and the novel opens at the one-year anniversary of the tragic events that turned their lives upside down. As the reader peels back the layers of this fam
Glenna Pritchett
One of the most devastatingly emotional books I've read in a while. I won't say more, because the blurb tells you everything else you need to know in order to decide whether to read it.

I hope you do.

Jul 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: bipoc-author
This book ended up on my Christmas list because I'd seen it compared to Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng, which was pretty much my book-boyfriend of last year. I did everything but put a pair of jeans on it and take it out for a candlelit dinner.

(Before you say anything, yes, I realize Christmas was over three months ago, and no, I don't have an excuse for why it's taken me so long to read In the Language of Miracles, other than to say I have a tendency to neglect books I own in favor o
Jun 18, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is a beautifully written debut novel that I enjoyed very much. It’s sensitive, lyrical, mesmerizing, suspenseful and heart breaking. A family immigrates from Egypt to America and tries so hard to become a part of their new country. A tragedy caused by one of them sets off a negative reaction to the innocent members of the family. The novel explores grief, survivorship, culture and human relationships, along with our longing for home and a place to belong, in such an honest and heartfelt way ...more
Jun 25, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Rajia Hassib has written a remarkable debut novel. The writing is beautiful, powerful, rich. She does a wonderful job developing her characters and making you care about them. It is the story of an Egyptian American family trying to heal after the oldest son commits a horrible crime. The family have become pariahs in the community - Samir, the father, having patients leave his successful medical practice, the children being bullied at school (by students and teachers alike) and on social media, ...more
Kathe Coleman
Aug 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib
The Al-Menshawy family, originally from Egypt is devastated when their oldest son Hosaam, a recent high school graduate, kills his oldest friend and neighbor Natalie. This books starts a year after the aftermath of a tragedy when family and friends plan a memorial for Natalie. Each chapter starts with the five days leading up to a planned memorial service by the murdered girls parents. Samir Al-Menshawy had been a well-respected doctor in the small town Ne
Nelda Brangwin
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing
As I finished this debut novel, I thought “So what is the big chasm between Christianity and Islam?” So many of the precepts are the same. Dr. Ben Carson should read this book and then explain why a Muslim should not be elected President of the United States. Other presidential candidates should read it and then explain why immigrants are so bad for the US. I look forward to more books by this first-time author. Her writing is beautiful and the relationship of Grandma to the family and the endin ...more
Adriyanna Zimmermann
Jun 28, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Actual rating 4.5/5 stars.

With her debut novel, Rajia Hassib takes us on the journey of an Egyptian American family struggling to get over a family tragedy and how they’re confronting it one year later. I loved the format of a five day timeline because it allowed for the little details to be noticed. The characters were all interesting in how they dealt with their grief, and especially the sort of things they noticed a year later. This novel tells an important message: not all miracles require
Aug 06, 2015 rated it did not like it
It's totally okay to pass up this novel. Better luck on the second novel....

This was a debut novel by the author and the story sounding like it could be good, but it was just not. The novel takes place a year after 2 horrible, violent deaths that occurred in the town between two neighbors that had grown up together. One is an Egyptian-American boy,Hosaam, who grew up with the other victim, and loved her, the neighbor Natalie. A year after their deaths the families are still ignoring each other a
Oct 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
Strong debut novel centered on an unfortunate and all too reoccurring topic in the United States. Hassib takes the reader into the family of the Al-Menshawys, immigrants from Egypt, living in Summerset, New Jersey, as they process and grieve the death of their son Hosaam, his atrocious act of violence, the death of their neighbor's daughter, Natalie Bradstreet, and their shame and ostracization in the community. Samir is a successful family physician. His wife, Nagla, has had less exposure to Am ...more
Khaled and his family are still reeling as they approach the one-year anniversary of the date his brother committed a violent act. Their continued grief over his death and guilt for all the ways they let him (and each other) down conspire to make a very tense household. The tension gets even worse when they learn about a memorial service planned for the anniversary...and Khaled's father indicates that he is not only determined to attend (when the rest of the family believes they will not be welc ...more
Martie Nees Record
Sep 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
“What happens to a family when one of its members perpetrates an unspeakable act of violence? How do you grieve for a loved one who has committed both murder and suicide? How does the local community react? What if the family in question is Muslim? Is that a game changer?” These thought provoking questions are asked by the author through her story of an Egyptian family, living in the suburbs of New Jersey, when their teenage son murders his American girlfriend and then kills himself. I found my ...more
Nov 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Hassib is a wonderful storyteller. Her writing pulls you in and immerses you in the life of a family struggling to come to grips with a tragedy that should be personal but that becomes public. This novel shines a light on difficulties Muslims in America face in a way that is not preachy or overbearing.
Apr 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books. Highly recommended read on family, community, and identity.
Oct 19, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: own-voices
I wanted to like this more than I actually did.
Anna (bibliophiles_bookstagram)
I loved the narration style--it was profound to receive such a limited point of view from each character, yet never have an omniscient narrator tell the "truth." The story was engrossing, but there were just too many missing pieces or undeveloped pieces for me. Hosaam's obvious mental illness should have played a bigger part, yet maybe Hassib is making a point that we as a society will lay blame to things other than mental illness, and our blame gets misplaced? I still felt like mental illness n ...more
Jacinta Carter
Oct 09, 2019 rated it really liked it
Books about grieving families have a special place in my heart, and I was fascinated by the unusual point-of-view in this novel. Not only was the main character grieving the loss of his brother, but he was also dealing with the fact that his brother died after committing a horrific crime. The chapters that focused on the main character and his mother were beautifully written and I loved learning about those two. But every chapter about his father just made me want to stop reading because he made ...more
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Rajia Hassib was born and raised in Egypt and moved to the United States when she was twenty-three. Her first novel, In the Language of Miracles, was a New York Times Editors’ Choice and received an honorable mention from the Arab American Book Award. She holds an MA in creative writing from Marshall University, and she has written for The New York Times Book Review and The New Yorker online. She ...more

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When their eldest son commits a terrible crime, an Egyptian American family is ostracized by their New Jersey community in the debut novel In the...
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