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A Place for Us

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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

A Place for Us unfolds the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, gathered together in their Californian hometown to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia's, wedding - a match of love rather than tradition. It is here, on this momentous day, that Amar, the youngest of the siblings, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. Rafiq and Layla must now contend with the choices and betrayals that lead to their son's estrangement - the reckoning of parents who strove to pass on their cultures and traditions to their children; and of children who in turn struggle to balance authenticity in themselves with loyalty to the home they came from.

In a narrative that spans decades and sees family life through the eyes of each member, A Place For Us charts the crucial moments in the family's past, from the bonds that bring them together to the differences that pull them apart. And as siblings Hadia, Huda, and Amar attempt to carve out a life for themselves, they must reconcile their present culture with their parent's faith, to tread a path between the old world and the new, and learn how the smallest decisions can lead to the deepest of betrayals.

A deeply affecting and resonant story, A Place for Us is truly a book for our times: a moving portrait of what it means to be an American family today, a novel of love, identity and belonging that eloquently examines what it means to be both American and Muslim -- and announces Fatima Farheen Mirza as a major new literary talent.

400 pages, Kindle Edition

First published June 12, 2018

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About the author

Fatima Farheen Mirza was born in 1991 and raised in California. She is a graduate of the Iowa Writers' Workshop and a recipient of the Michener-Copernicus Fellowship.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 8,146 reviews
Profile Image for Melissa.
647 reviews28.6k followers
June 12, 2018
It isn’t often that a book manages to tiptoe quietly into my life and steal a piece of my heart as effortlessly as this enthralling beauty. Thought-provoking, insightful and rife with stunning passages, A Place for Us is much more than just a novel to spend a few days with—it's one to appreciate, grow from and reflect back on.

Within the first few pages it’s clear, Fatima Farheen Mirza’s writing is something special—there's a distinct beauty to her storytelling. From the intriguing opening, to the family dynamics and the myriad of emotions at play, it’s nothing short of impressive. Mirza writes with an honesty and deep understanding of the inner workings of relationships and the turmoil that can plague those connections. More than just words on a page, this is a living, breathing, body of work that allows the reader to feel each and every possibility, loving connection, heartbreak and misunderstanding.

The story opens with Amar, returning to his family after a three-year estrangement, to partake in his eldest sister, Hadia’s wedding. Amar is the youngest, and only son, in an Indian-American Muslim family of five and he’s always sort of struggled to find his place. Through a series of flashbacks that aren’t quite linear, the author weaves a tale that allows the reader to be an active participant in the lives of the three siblings and their parents—piecing together the timeline like a puzzle, until the full picture of why starts to take shape.

In trying to make sense of Amar’s distance, the story explores the inner workings of the family and their struggles with tradition, faith and outside influences. We have the father, Rafiq, who's set in his ways and often portrayed as the enforcer. Then there’s Layla, mama bear, who wavers a time or two in upholding her beliefs in the face of children wanting to branch out and try things their own way. At times, the number of rules—especially those imposed on women—are a bit stifling, but there’s an undeniable beauty to some of the customs and rich culture Rafiq and Layla try so hard to instill in their children, things they were once taught by their own parents.

Among other things, what struck me hard was the arranged marriage of Rafiq and Layla. On one hand, I admired her strength—putting her faith in a complete stranger and starting over in a new world—but on the other, my heart broke at the thought of "love born from gratitude”. I'm not naive to the fact that this happens everyday, in many cultures around the world, it’s just hard for the lover of love in me to remove the passion from the equation and view marriage as simply an arrangement.

The final piece of the story brings everything full circle and in doing so, it just might make you look at life a bit differently. The thoughts and feelings are so raw, so gut-wrenching; I dare you not to cry. Not to be affected. Not to be moved. Seeing the world through this person’s eyes broke me—completely and utterly. There are no words to adequately capture the power of this ending, so I'll just settle with: I wholeheartedly loved it.

Not only is this an unforgettable journey, but there’s an important and timely message behind the words—don’t ever assume you know what someone else is thinking or feeling. A person’s behavior, outward appearance or words, hurtful or not, are by no means a true indication of what they’re actually feeling or experiencing inside. Being vulnerable should never be viewed as a weakness.

*Thank you to SJP for Hogarth for providing me with an advanced copy for review. I am beyond excited to see what’s next from this imprint.

**I am one lucky, lucky girl to have met such great friends. Thank you to all of my lovely Traveling Sisters for another lively group read and discussion. Being able to share my thoughts and seeing things through all of your eyes, made this treasured read even more special. Just wow. Until next time, ladies. 🧡
Profile Image for Emily May.
1,946 reviews292k followers
July 2, 2018
July 2, 2018: I am so excited about this: I did an interview with the lovely Fatima on my blog! We talked about A Place for Us, working with Sarah Jessica Parker, and favourite books!

She could hold in her heart a belief in Islam as well as the unwavering belief that every human had the right to choose who they loved, and how, and that belief was in exact accordance with her faith: that it is the individual's right to choose, and the individual's duty to empathize with one another.

Do you love those slow-burning, quiet family dramas that take you so fully into the lives of the characters? The kind that show complex human beings trying, often failing, and trying again to do their best? It's not an action-packed fantasy or a spine-tingling thriller, but get me in the right mood and I adore these kinds of books. Celeste Ng is one of my personal favourites.

And A Place for Us is a perfect example of one of these books. It moves from the present to the past and back again to tell a carefully-crafted tale of an Indian-American Muslim family and all the conflicts and love that exist between its members. It spans several decades and explores themes of culture, faith and identity.

"Somewhere (A Place For Us)" is a song that musical lovers will know well. It comes from West Side Story, which sees two lovers torn apart by cultural and familial differences, in the vein of Romeo and Juliet. This book tells a similar story, yet the divisions exist within one single family instead of between two. Will they ever get to a place beyond the burden of their differences?

The book opens with a wedding. The bride is Hadia - a young woman who we soon learn has broken tradition by choosing her own husband and embracing more modern interpretations of Islam. We also learn that she has invited her brother, Amar, to the wedding and this will be the first time the family has been reunited since Amar ran away years before.

Then we move back in time and a picture slowly starts to build of this family. Mirza shows the intricacies in relationships, whether it be between husband and wife, brother and sister, or mother and daughter. As this family is drawn in detail, we are also taken through experiences relating to 9/11, forbidden love, and the loss of a close friend whose death affects them all.

Ultimately, A Place for Us is about what it means to be both American and Muslim; it is about the clash of religious and cultural tradition with modern ideas and the right to choose. Hadia faces decisions about wearing the hijab and arranged marriage - can she please her parents and be her own person at the same time? Is it possible to unite the old with the new?

My only (small) complaint is that I think another round of editing could have shaved off some of the parts that rehashed the same ideas over again. Depth is excellent; waffling is not. But anyway, it is a minor issue and I really enjoyed the book.

This is the first book from Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint SJP for Hogarth and I have to say I am intrigued to see what else they publish.

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Profile Image for Sarah Jessica Parker.
17 reviews406k followers
May 17, 2018
It is with tremendous excitement that I’m sharing Fatima Farheen Mirza’s novel, A Place for Us, the first book on the SJP for Hogarth list. When we first conceived of this imprint, and imagined the kinds of books we wanted to publish, I went back to my own bookshelves—to books I loved, books that expanded my horizons, and opened me up to other worlds. In A Place for Us, I found all this and more: an exquisitely tender-hearted story of a Muslim Indian American family caught between cultures, and a deeply moving story of identity and belonging.
Profile Image for Debbie.
433 reviews2,744 followers
July 5, 2018
Are you kidding me?

Unlike the rest of the world, including sweet Sarah Jessica Parker, I did not drool over this one, unless you count the drool that appeared when I dozed off in absolute boredom. I want my hours back! Yeah yeah yeah, I know. I should have ditched it. I guess I was just committed to torturing myself.

I was so looking forward to this one, rave reviews everywhere, oh I’m sure I’ll love it. The story sounded interesting: an Indian Muslim family living in America. My balloon was full of good air but when I started reading, the great deflate began.

I’m going right to my lists. I want to be nice and say there was a small Joy Jar, but honestly, it’s a stretch for me to appreciate much about this snooze. But I’ll try.

Joy Jar

-Well written.
-Occasionally profound.
-Some psychological insight and introspection. The reasons we do the things we do, the thoughts behind our actions.
-Nuanced relationships.
-Zeroes in on the little gestures and private things we do, some unconsciously. This was cool.
-Big secrets, extensive guilt. This was interesting.
-Ended my painful procrastination streak: I FINALLY found the time to fill my Amazon cart with must-haves (like food-safe mineral oil for my new cutting board). I looked for any excuse to get away from the book.

(I know, it’s cheating to put that snarky last item on the list, but I can’t help it.)

Complaint Board

-I want noise! The whole damn thing seemed coated in Valium: the tone, the plot, the characters. A three-in-one snooze-fest! The language was so flat I was jonesin’ for some jazz. It was a mumbly monotone, I was a squeaky scream—what a show. I did get used to the quiet language, but it took me about half the book. By that time I had found a bunch of other reasons to hate it. Damn, I should beware whenever reviews say the book is quiet. Nine times out of ten, the quiet will make me climb the walls.

-Hand me the scissors. Is there an editor in the house? A big crime, since it led to prolonged torture, was that this book was WAY too long, like a hundred pages too long. Oh god, did I look at the bottom of the page! Have I really only read 7 percent of this book? Are you kidding me? Could my Kindle page-counter be malfunctioning??

-I’ve heard it all before (which sounds like a line in a croon-y country song). The characters are stereotypes: We have two good daughters, a black-sheep son, a kind mother, a nice dad with a slight temper. Everyone angsty. The plot was trite: Strict parents want their kids to follow traditions and the kids don’t want to; both parents and kids play the hide-important-things game; kids overachieve, underachieve, have forbidden crushes; blah blah blah. (I know, I know, if the story had been infused with juice, I probably wouldn’t be saying it was trite—it’s all in the telling.)

-No touchy-feely for me. I didn’t connect with the characters, partly because they were a bore and partly because they were too passive. It’s that Valium coating I was talking about. Of course, I always like the black sheep, but in this book he was MIA a lot. He was the focus, yes, but we didn’t get to see him or his point of view much.

-One daughter is one big blur. Totally in the background. Huh? Why didn’t she get developed? Just seems weird to have a family saga where one kid doesn’t have shape or voice.

-Okay, now talk to each other. Even in real life I like talkers, so it’s no surprise that a family of Quiet Ones would drive me nuts. I craved dialogue, interaction. The story is more about what doesn’t get said, and that’s all cool and nuanced. Still, I wanted more in-your-face drama.

-I only see the smoothie. I wanted to see the ingredients hopping around in the blender; I wanted to see the conflict of cultures. Instead, the book is focused on the family and its traditions, not about the problems of assimilating into American culture and not about friendships with people outside their culture. For the most part, it seems like the kids have blended in pretty well. There is some reaction to 9/11, but not enough.

-Today is just a tease. All you want to talk about is yesterday! The book starts with a wedding, but we don’t get back to the wedding until more than half the book is over. At the 59% mark, to be exact. (Of course I know this, since I was constantly looking at the Percent Read info at the bottom of the page, lol.) I was reading about the past. And reading about the past. And reading about the past….okay, can’t we please please please go back to the present? Can we please go back to today? Can we see what happens at the wedding? Don’t leave me hanging for half the book! The past isn’t presented sequentially—it jumps around--and that didn’t bother me a bit. But I would have liked it if the present had come back into focus now and then, between the blasts of the past. I was impatient to find out what was happening in the here and now. I get that the author wanted to flesh out the characters so that when we returned to the present, the actions would be loaded, but my annoyance with the structure of the story was so stubborn, I couldn’t appreciate the author’s plan.

-Religion collision. At first, there was a smattering of religion. I could handle that. I figured it was just there to convince us of how important religion was to the parents, which was reasonable. However, the entire last part of the book felt like a sermon. And as the end was approaching (oh baby let me be done with this book!), the pages became more and more full of religion. And here I was, hoping that we’d return to some drama. But oh no.

-Sorry, I don’t speak Urdu. Throughout the book, there are phrases in Urdu. This is a pet peeve of mine: I hate it when books include phrases in another language. I’m assuming the writer thinks it adds authenticity, but to me it just puts big blanks into the sentences. I don’t understand the words and phrases and I will never remember them, so what’s the point?

-Nit-picky editor at your service. Very occasionally, there was a point of view problem. And yes, occasionally the writer committed the sin of using “try and” instead of “try to.”

-Seriously? This is the ending? I can’t say what I wanted and expected to happen because I don’t want to give spoilers, but I can say that it was drama I was craving. Instead, the ending was mostly talk of religion and regrets.

I read a million 5-star reviews, many from friends, so I expected to love this book. Plus, I got sucked into the hype that Sarah Jessica Parker generated. (She has just launched a book publishing imprint and chose this as her first book.) I saw her with the author on a talk show. Parker was effusive. Man, what a salesperson! She convinced me that this book was the bending end—I was salivating to get my hands on it. But wait. Parker has always been an actress, not a book publisher. And why would I assume that she would like a book I would like? Geez.

The style of writing made me strangely uncomfortable, like it didn’t match me. It grated on my nerves instead of being soothing or wonderful. I never wanted to pick the book up.

But just about everyone in the universe loved this book, so don’t listen to me. I'm an alien.

Thanks to NetGalley for the advance copy.
Profile Image for Kristin (KC).
251 reviews25.1k followers
June 15, 2021
*All the stars, and the beautiful moon that follows each of us, always*

Symbolic, realistic-storytelling at its finest!

A colorful masterpiece and truly a story to savor, A PLACE FOR US uses a soothing voice to deliver a powerful message that will hug the hearts and hold the hands of its readers!

This author lets us know quite distinctly that we are not just readers; we are powerful beings capable of changing the world by altering the way we think. By making an effort to view life through the eyes of others, to consider their struggles and downfalls, and to recognize that we are ultimately one and the same, no matter our gender, race, religious beliefs, or social stature.

We all roam this life as “equals”.

Every single moment in this story is made to materialize before your eyes through writing so profound and poetic it will cause you to pause in tiny moments of silence just to fully absorb the enormous weight of a single delicate sentence.

We not only witness the struggles of this beautiful Indian-American Muslim family, but we are invited to step inside their minds, embody their pain, cry through their failures, and rejoice within their triumphs. I found myself in tears more times than I can count, from being so utterly moved, and so humbly inspired.

Being a character-driven story at heart, I feel compelled to introduce you to this family, because there is nothing better than characters so well-constructed they end up feeling like friends. Like family.

Amar is the youngest child and son of Layla and Rafiq, and brother to sisters Hadia and Huda. This is the main cast of characters guaranteed to find their way into your heart. I was mere minutes inside this story, yet already fully invested in each of their lives.

The story opens at a wedding in present time, where Amar has returned to his family after years of estrangement. Secrets from the past slowly begin to reveal themselves through a timeline that glides seamlessly in and out of past and present settings.

The character development is tremendous. No one is immune to failure nor safe from heartache. This is NOT a neatly-depicted drama with over-the-top lessons and troubles that are magically repaired by the end.

It is strikingly life-like, and delivers one of the most genuine portrayals of an intimate and complex family dynamic I’ve come across in a long, long time.

You can feel the painful trials of each and every one of these characters—and perhaps you can even relate...

To Amar…who feels trapped inside the demands of his Muslim faith and his internal doubt. Born in America, but feeling every bit an outsider, Amar lives in constant fear of betraying his family and their customs. He fights between what he wants, and what he “should” want, never feeling as though any of it is ever good enough.

Or you may find common ground with Hadia…and her perpetual need to please her father, as though her entire self-worth lies solely upon his approval. Often ordered by her mother to “bite her tongue and abandon her protest”, silencing what should otherwise be viewed as admirable determination. And then there’s the colossal pressure placed upon her as eldest child and greatest influencer of her siblings.

Or maybe their parents…who refuse to grant their children the option to live freely within their country, adamant that they adhere to their rigid yet beautiful customs, without granting even an inch of wiggle-room ... but there are times they harbor guilt and question their choices, finding it difficult to create a balance.

As the title suggests, this story exemplifies the idea of finding one’s place in life: literally, figuratively, emotionally, culturally, and on all levels—including a place within one’s family, and even inside one’s “self”.

I appreciated that this story’s timeline intersected with 9/11 not in a drawn out manner, but just enough to shed light on the equally unjust side of the coin: I personally remember the shock of that day--September 11th--waking up the next morning afraid of being attacked. What I failed to consider were the innocent ones waking up that same morning afraid of being Muslim.

How it must feel for a good person—a peace-loving person—to be judged and condemned for the hateful act of another.

Various accounts of unfairness and judgment, family strife, true love lost, all saturate these pages—but there is also so much more.

Those precious little moments in life, so seemingly simple and ordinary that creep in quietly and leave almost entirely unnoticed.

You know the ones: children watching fireworks for the first time with their parents. A walk through a garden, a drive for ice cream. Laughing at the kitchen table while gathering for a meal. The bewitching charm of young love...

These delicate moments are ones we remember the longest and treasure the hardest, and this story is overflowing with the recognition of those “little” things. It highlights their impact and embraces their worth, showing us that it is ultimately the simple things in life that end up defining us. The simple moments that connect us all.

A PLACE FOR US emphasizes the importance of family, relationships, forgiveness, and what it means to love someone wholly and without condition.

This is a powerful piece I won’t soon forget, that touches the heart, provokes deep thought, instills awareness, and inspires hope. Each word is carefully chosen and thoughtfully strung together in such an eloquent arrangement that this story doesn’t speak, but sings.

I love this story with all of me, and I hope you will, too.

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

:::::I read this with my lovely Traveling Sisters, whose thoughtful analysis and emotional commentary made this experience even more enjoyable! Thanks so much, ladies ❤️:::::

*Huge thanks to Goodreads, Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint SJP for Hogarth, Fatima Farheen Mirza, and Penguin Random House for kindly providing and physical advanced reader's copy in exchange for an honest review!*
Profile Image for Anne Bogel.
Author 6 books52.1k followers
April 23, 2019
I may bump this up to 5 stars (but I like to sit with it a while first). This is one of the best, most emotionally resonant books I've read in a while. Complex, wistful, melancholy.
Profile Image for Susanne.
1,157 reviews36.5k followers
June 18, 2018
Five Beautiful, Heart-Wrenching, Emotional, Evocative Stars.

Extremely rare are the novels that touch the soul, permanently marking the heart, creating a burning in the lungs, making it impossible to draw in enough air. “A Place for Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirza is that kind of novel.

Every word read, causing an emotional chill and creating a sensation that coursed through me, making my heart all a flutter.

“A Place For Us” is a novel about a family of five: Rafiq, Layla, Hadia, Huda and Amar, all of whom struggle to be true to themselves, while trying to remain faithful to each other, their religion and their traditions as Muslim Americans. Rafiq, runs a tight ship, strictly adhering to the militant upbringing, he himself grew up with. Layla, lives for both her family and her religion, they go hand in hand and she believes in the power of her faith to help guide her through. Her children are her life, though unconsciously she gravitates to one, more than the others. Hadia, the eldest daughter, is the best and the brightest, the one who needs recognition, personally and professionally above all else. She has a need to live by a certain code, regardless of who it impacts. Huda is the quiet one, the most confident, the most self-assured. The one everyone goes to when they need to be consoled. Amar, is the youngest child, the one who struggles the most: within his family unit, with school and with his beliefs. He has always been the outsider. The one thing he wants most in this life is forbidden.

At the outset of “A Place for Us,” the family comes together to celebrate Hadia’s wedding. Amar returns for the celebration from parts unknown, having been estranged from the family for many years. Everyone walks on eggshells. afraid of each other and most of all, afraid of facing the truth.

Emotions are palpable, from the very first moment, the tightness in the chest, the sinking, nervous feeling in the stomach. I am there, scared straight, watching, waiting, all eyes on Amar.

Fatima Farheen Mizra created characters who I felt a complete and utter kinship with, almost a “oneness” with when reading this. I am Hadia, when she is in competition with Amar and when confronts her Baba (Rafiq) about him; I am Amar, when he dotes on his mother, when he plays with his friend Ali, when he looks longingly at Amira and when he hangs his head in shame. I am also Huda, when she comforts those around her. Whose character resonates most with me you might wonder..gnawing away every fiber of my being? Amar. Always Amar. Thinking of his unrelenting heartache, his unwavering need for acceptance, love and understanding, my chest is tight and my eyes fill with tears.

When reading this novel, my head swirled with a myriad of thoughts. How do you define “A Place for Us?” Is it culture, family, religion or tradition? It it a “place” for you or a “place” for me? In my opinion, the answer isn’t that simple. It is the “place” where each character feels the most comfortable being the person they are, the “place” they feel the safest and most at ease and for each it is different.

No one knows how they might impact someone else and yet, in “A Place for Us” each and every character’s life is impacted by another’s actions and decisions. Ways in which you would never imagine. In my mind, this was the take-away - to be accountable for your actions and think about how your choices affect those around you as all actions have consequences, even the trivial ones.

“A Place for Us” is novel I lived and breathed. It is full of life lessons and a gazillion heartfelt, desperate, tear-jerking moments. To say that I was invested in and loved Amar, Huda, Hadia and Baba and this book is an understatement. The writing is so fluid, like a fountain, the water rising up, up, up ever so slowly, and splashing over quickly. It calming, exquisite, intricate, muted. In other words, sheer perfection. It has a “place” in my heart and soul and the characters will continue to give me chills for a long time to come.

This was a Traveling Sister Read. Our discussions for this book were by far, the most brilliant, emotional and gut-wrenching of any group read to-date. Throughout the course of the novel, each of us felt utterly bereft. None of us have recovered. We were all astounded by Fatima Farheen Mizra’s ability to capture a family’s struggle so realistically. It seems impossible to imagine that this is her debut.

For the Full Traveling Sister Group Review, please see Brenda and Norma’s blog: https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com/

Thank you so very much to Goodreads, Sarah Jessica Parker’s new imprint: SJP for Hogarth, Penguin Random House and the incredible Fatima Fahreen Mizra for a complimentary copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review. My love for this book knows no bounds.

Published on Goodreads, Amazon, Twitter and Instagram on 6.10.18.
Profile Image for Elyse Walters.
3,919 reviews35.4k followers
November 28, 2019
Fantastic Kindle deals going on....,
At $1.99 .... this must be one of the best download special prices of the day!
Damn! Another book to not miss because it’s FULLY ENJOYABLE!!!

Absolutely wonderful!!!

If you see reviews deeply speaking to your heart -or feel personally important to you in one way or another such as Diane S’s review did for me...and more and more high rating reviews rolling in....Karen, Cheri, Jill, Patti, Rhonda, Alaina, Anne, Amena, DeAnn, Linda, Mimi, Virginia, Amin, KatieB, Jill Dobbie,
Becky, Barbara, Kimberly, Tamkeen, Nancy, Betty, Kathy, Jamckean, Marcy,Janet, Karen Hagerman, Patti...on and on and on...
....and the book is not even released in stores until June, 12th, 2018.....it’s because this book it’s THAT GOOD.... fulfilling everything - and more- that we want from a fiction book.
“A Place For Us” would make a great book club discussion pick. Especially where I live in Silicon Valley, in the Santa Clara County. We have the 2nd highest Muslim population in the region.
The narrative is excellent....personal & intimate. We get to know the characters well and are drawn into their inner most emotional lives — ( really personal storytelling), allowing for us - the reader to better understand them as individuals- and as a family - with all their many trials and tribulations. This epic story explores the hardships of embracing change and still honoring heritage, ( balancing Muslim/American identities), cultural isolationism, social economic factors, immigration issues...and Islamophobia. At the same time -we get a clear look at the immediate family members struggles. The author does this by weaving together three non-linear points of view — and it flows effortlessly. I’m usually picky about points of view - and timeline changes - but with the smooth storytelling—the author demonstrated a clear style of her own. And quite brilliantly.

My husband and I are close friends with two Muslim/America women who are lawyers and represent MuslimAmerican clients- social rights, etc. They told us about a Bay Area survey that was taken more than decade after 9/11– taken by Muslims of all ethnicities and backgrounds. What they learned was many are still dealing with anxiety and fears. 40% experienced personal discrimination. 23% have been victims of hate crime. So this book is very relevant even today.
I didn’t think it was an accident that author Fatima Farheen Mirza lives in California and places much of this story in California. I felt like she knew her characters ‘first hand’....as they were so ‘real’.

Amar is the only son of Rafiq and Layla. Also the youngest sibling. He’s was psychologically complex - intriguing - and conflicted. He not only hated his Quran teachers as a 10 year old, got in fights —at times I couldn’t blame him when a kid said his Baba looked like a f#@king terrorist—but as he grew older — his relationship with his father became increasingly toxic. We have hints of this strained father/son relationship at the start of the novel when Amar returns home for his sisters, Hadia’s wedding, having not seen his family in 3 years.

The ending was extremely moving— I had tears.

An amazing story ....from the language Urdu- the foods- clothing- prayers- family home life - the secrets - betrayals- hopes - dreams - Love....etc.
This novel is also conscience-ridden...a fast page turner that’s vital of our times. AND JUST DARN GOOD!!!

Thank You, Emily for sending me this gorgeous physical book! The cover is stunning.
Profile Image for Angela M .
1,276 reviews2,213 followers
June 15, 2018

Every once in a while I read a debut novel that is so perfect because it’s everything I want - beautifully written with characters that have you caring about them from the beginning and a story that will not easily be forgotten. This is one of them. You might read reviews of this book both on Goodreads and in the press and see words like stunning, beautiful, powerful and I wish I could be more original and find some different words but I can only say that this book is all of those things. This is a story of an Indian Muslim family living in California, and of course, it is in so many ways about cultural traditions, religious beliefs, but at its core it is a story of a family, how much they love each other, how they make mistakes and hurt each other, how deeply they feel sorrow and regret for things they do and say, sometimes too late. They are not unlike many of us, whether we are Indian Muslim or not.

We know at the beginning that Amar, the youngest child in the family, has been gone for several years and that there is tension between him and his father, Rafiq. As he returns for his sister Hadia’s wedding, his mother Layla and sister Huda as well as Hadia are anxious about how Amar’s return will be. We move back and forth seamlessly through multiple points of view - their thoughts of the present, memories of the past, the good ones like going to see fireworks and then those not so happy, at various times in their lives as little children and teenagers, the emotions, the fear of what it was like for them after 9/11, taking us back and forth finally moving towards where they are today. This is the intimate way we get to know these characters so deeply. The narrative that perhaps struck me the most, the deepest was that of Rafiq, the father who we come to know in the last part of the book. I found some circumstances so heartbreaking and some so uplifting and I cried at both. It’s hard to say anything more than hasn’t been said in the numerous reviews, so I’ll leave it a thanks to my good friend Diane S. whose review made me know I had to read this book.

I received an advanced copy of this book from SJP for Hogarth/Crown through NetGalley.
Profile Image for Norma.
551 reviews12k followers
July 6, 2018
5 ***** Glowing Stars! Wow! This book was an absolutely phenomenal read and was quickly placed into my Goodreads Favourite Reads shelf for 2018!

This book was absolutely everything to me! My thoughts and emotions did not change from the very first sentence of this book and held dear right to the very last sentence. If anything it just reminded me of what I seek and why I love to read! A PLACE FOR US moved me more than any other novel has ever moved me before.

I have never been so excited to have received a book in the mail like I was with this one. Upon opening the package and actually having this book in my hands (giving it a smell & a hug ~ I think all of us Traveling Sisters can relate to that!) the first thing I noticed was that beautiful cover. This story is just as gorgeous and beautiful as that cover!

A PLACE FOR US by FATIMA FARHEEN MIRZA was an absolutely fantastic, powerful, thought-provoking, moving, and heartfelt novel that has affected me in ways that no other novel has ever done before. I was immediately drawn into this story and savoured every single sentence! I absolutely love the title of this book and found it was extremely fitting to this story. No matter who we are or where we are from there is A Place for Us!

FATIMA FARHEEN MIRZA delivers a steady-paced, fascinating and beautifully written story here with interesting, compelling, realistic and believable characters that I absolutely fell in love with. The story is told in multiple perspectives which alternates between the voices of Layla, Hadia, and Amar, with a surprise narrative near the end which I absolutely loved. We see the same events unfold through the different perspectives and what the significance of each event meant to them and how it ultimately shapes each character. We really get a good look and understanding into each of these events. Even though there is a lot of memories within each chapter that flip around in place and time I didn’t find it at all confusing and really enjoyed the way that this story was told.

In the end I thought this was such an important, touching and powerful story and I am so happy that I had the pleasure of reading it! This book has the power to change the way we think and feel and has reminded me of all the reasons of why I love to read! 💕 This is by far one of the best books that I have ever read!! Would highly recommend!

I read this book along with my fellow Traveling Sisters! Thank you so much ladies for another awesome reading experience!! ❤️

Thank you so much to Goodreads, Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint SJP for Hogarth, Fatima Farheen Mirza, and Penguin Random House for the opportunity to read an advanced physical copy of this book in exchange for a review!

Review written and posted on our themed book blog Two Sisters Lost In A Coulee Reading.

Coulee: a term applied rather loosely to different landforms, all of which refer to a kind of valley.
Profile Image for Diane S ☔.
4,694 reviews14.1k followers
April 14, 2018
Wow!! I am just blown away by the fact that this is a first novel, the story and theme so universal. A Muslim Indian family in America, trying to maintain it's own beliefs and culture, while facing modernity. This family, mother, father, two daughters , Hadia and Huda, and the youngest, a son Amar who never really feels he belongs. We come to know this family inside and out,the book starts with the marriage of Hadia,and then goes back and forth, to various beginnings and endings. While their beliefs may not be mine, many of the problems between parents and siblings are indeed universal.

As they struggle to find their place in the larger world, the children also struggle to find their place in the family. Living up to parental expectations, or in Amar's case the struggle to find his place anywhere at all. Trying to carvea path between cultural and religious beliefs and the lessening of this expectation to fit with the place they now find themselves. The story of this family in all its totality is both moving and insightful. The barriers to acceptance by children and parents after 911, when all Muslims were viewed with suspicion and in many cases outright hate. By showing us the commonalities in their family and our own, this young author has shown us that ww may in fact may not be so different.

The last part of the book focuses on the father's point of view,alone. How he thought, what went wrong and what he wished he had done differently. It is full of anguish and remorse, and we clearly see for the first time what this Muslim, husband, father has gone through, from his own childhood to the way he tried to instill family values and religious beliefs in his children. It does end on a note of positivity, sadness yes, but hopefully as well. This is an outstanding piece of fiction, in my opinion, I quite frankly fell hard for this family, with all it's flaws and things mistakenly done out of love. I wasn't ready to leave them at books end, and I believe if you read, or at least I hope, that you will see some of the same values, if not the religious beliefs, that we try to instill in our own families.

This is also the first book published under the Sarah Jessica Parker imprint of Random House, and it is a wonderful beginning.

ARC from bookbrowse and Random House.
Profile Image for Jennifer ~ TarHeelReader.
2,087 reviews30.1k followers
June 17, 2021
5 stars to A Place for Us, an emotionally-evocative and profound story of family and belonging! 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

I felt such an intense connection to this book, I needed time to process.

A Place for Us is the story of an Indian-American Muslim family living in California. At the opening, the family has come together to celebrate the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding. Amar, the estranged youngest brother, attends the wedding, after being away for years.

What unfolds is a gentle layering of time, past and present over decades, told in the voices of the family; all culminating in an honest portrait of this complex and loving family, with each member searching for belonging, or “place.”

A Place for Us was a book to read slowly and savor. One in which to reflect on my own life, on my family growing up, on my parents, and most especially, how small decisions made by family members can leave indelible marks. I felt profound connections to the genuine characters portrayed in this book due to the authenticity in the writing. Culture-aside, the issues at play within this family were universal; however, the culture embedded here was enlightening and thought-stirring.

Fatima Farheen Mirza has the ability to convey emotions in the most sincere and open ways, and she captures the vulnerabilities in people with honesty and grace. As with all books, each person will take away messages that are personal based on her/his own path towards identity and belonging, especially within one’s own family. A Place for Us is easily one of the best books I have ever read and gets my highest recommendation.

Thank you to Fatima Farheen Mirza for writing this treasure, Sarah Jessica Parker for selecting this book, Crown/SJP for Hogarth and Goodreads for sending us the physical copies for our group read, and to Netgalley.

My reviews can also be found on my blog: www.jennifertarheelreader.com
Profile Image for Annet.
570 reviews716 followers
December 3, 2019
I used the wrong words. I acted the wrong ways. I will wait, until you are ready. I will always wait for you...
What a wonderful, still, thoughtful and at the same time emotional read this was.... Absolutely at loss for words actually. What a great read. I have to say, halfway through I did think the story was a bit long in the sense that an edit could have been necessary, but especially the last part, where the father contemplates and looks back at his life and his family, the conflicts and the love, that really hit me in the heart. I could not keep my tears from coming and coming in those last 40 pages or so. Wonderful read, totally deserves a full 5 stars, highlight of my 2018 reading year. So far, back to work, as usuala, more to follow. Highly recommended!
Here's an interesting review of the book published in The Washington Post (Choose Free and you should be able to get to the article, I did): https://www.washingtonpost.com/entert...
Profile Image for Julie .
4,000 reviews58.9k followers
March 3, 2019
A Place for Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is a 2018 SJP for Hogarth publication.

The incredible amount of time I waited to read this book was worth it. This book is everything my peers said it would be. What can I add, at this stage, which hasn’t already been said, and far more eloquently than I? A formidable task, but I couldn't leave all these powerful emotions bottled up inside, needing to express some of my own personal thoughts on it.

I’m a big fan of family sagas, and no matter which way you slice it, this book falls into that category. However, this is also a story about the struggle for individuality within the family unit. It’s about generational divides, traditions, religious customs, and rigid expectations, which tilts the dynamics, especially between father and son.

These themes, (despite the added elements of cultural and religious diversity, and the examination of gender roles within the family unit, which certainly makes this story a unique experience for most readers), are not necessarily new. Any parent, any child, any family, with similarities, such as disciplinarian parenting, often coupled with deep religious fervor, could relate to this family, at least to some extent.

While Layla and Rafiq are in an arranged marriage, and their faith is important to them, their children often question the answers, perhaps in a way their parents never dared.

But, invariably, there is at least one child who rebels, who feels stifled or repressed, who challenges with a sense of pride and stubbornness, the principles and expectations the family imparts upon them. In this case, Amar and his father Rafiq, clash in such a harsh and heartbreaking manner, leaving the reader feeling bereft, with a keen sense of loss, for what might have been, what could have been...

If only people had the benefit of hindsight, if only our mistakes could be taken back, if we could have a do over, knowing exactly where things went awry, if only blame was placed where it should be placed, if only we were not all flawed humans - if only this were a perfect world.

As the tragic events unfold, the characters each come into their own, confessing horrible secrets, admitting complicity, guilt, blame, and expressing overwhelming regret.

This is family. This is parenting. This is life. There is pain, there is progress, there is forgiveness, there is hope- and 'a place for us'.

This novel is eloquently written, so fresh, so raw and emotional, and so very real. This is not a flashy story, sidestepping pretentiousness, while replacing it with a beautiful, understated quality, which is quite effective.

It is this sense of realism, the feeling of being, not on the outside looking in, but of being present, in the moment, right there with the characters, as the story unfolds, that held me firmly in its grip.

I was far more in tune, listening to the silence, carefully watching, and waiting with bated breath to see how events would unfold. As the conclusion draws near and the second person narrative of Rafiq begins, the silence is finally heard.

These passages nearly ripped my heart out. If this were a movie, showing in a crowded theatre, there wouldn’t be a dry eye in the house.

I’m not normally swayed by celebrity book clubs or in this case, imprints, but SJP picked a winner with this one. A very impressive debut for Fatima Farheen Mirza, for sure. I feel she is light years ahead of many of her contemporaries and can envision a very bright future for her in literary land.

All the stars-
Profile Image for Melisa.
324 reviews513 followers
June 12, 2018
I knew my review wouldn’t do this book justice but here it is:

Like coming home.
Like a long, slow hug.
Like a song that you can’t get out of your head.

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza is one of the most extraordinary, thought provoking pieces of literature I have read in a very long time and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I am so very honored to have been included in this beautiful group of reviewers and to have read something so spectacular together with them.

It is my fear that I cannot possibly do this gorgeous book justice with a review. So this is not a review; these are my thoughts on what is sure to be one of the most moving, beautifully written pieces of work I will ever read.

For me personally, I tend to judge the strength of a book on its “unputdownability” however in this case, I had the absolute opposite response: I stretched it out for as long as I could and savored very single beautiful, heartfelt word.

The writing has been compared to “spun glass” and that is precisely what you will find here. So delicately and beautifully detailed, the words will grab ahold of you, take you on an emotional journey and never let you go.

In essence, this is a story of a family who is trying to understand how to exist in a world where their two cultures are colliding. But this could be the story of any family, which is what affected me so deeply - the daily struggles, attempting to do what you think is best for yourself and your children - and how these decisions can affect your family dynamic forever.

This book affected me profoundly on many different levels, from the emotional pull I felt for these characters to the excitement of learning about a new culture.

You will find beautiful customs. You will find struggle and deeply human connection. You will feel and you will empathize and you will find a story that will touch your heart. Highly, highly recommend. One thousand stars.

A massive thank you to SJP for Hogarth for providing me with a copy of this extraordinary book. And thank you to the other Traveling Sisters for the most profound discussion.
Profile Image for Berit Talks Books.
2,011 reviews15.7k followers
June 18, 2018
5 Beautiful Stars 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

This was more than just a book it was an experience... I was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to read this with a group of my fellow reviewers and friends the “Traveling Sisters”... we have read and love many books together, but this was hands-down the best discussion we have ever had... each of these amazing ladies brought their own life experiences to the discussion and it touched each and every one of us in an unique and special way.... this is a book that will stay close to our hearts and never be forgotten by any of us!

The story of a Muslim Indian American family, that really could be any family...Told non-linearly, The author wove pieces of the present and the past together seamlessly... creating an amazing story.... A story that was above all else about love....

The family in this book faced challenges that many families do, some a little more challenging because of their strict religious beliefs... this book really emphasize the similarities between people rather than the differences... it touched on the power of words both said and not.... The desire to belong and be accepted.... the need for forgiveness both of others and yourself... it was a book filled with struggle, compassion, determination, and love.... The characters in this book evoked strong feelings in me from sorrow, to elation, to frustration, and more....

My words definitely cannot do this book justice...I strongly encourage you to read this book! just make sure you have tissue handy!

*** many thanks to the publisher for my copy of this book ***
Profile Image for Mary Beth .
380 reviews1,614 followers
June 13, 2018

So Beautiful, Emotional and Moving!

I was immediately drawn into the story due to the beautiful writing. I love how Sarah Jessica Parker described the writing on the very first page of the book, "Told with a delicacy as though every sentence is spun from glass. I just had to savor each sentence and it flowed so well.

This book is so different than I usually read. I have to have a lot of suspense while reading a book. At least that's what I thought until I read this one. It did have some suspense, that kept me turning the pages, to find out what happened to Amar.
I loved this beautiful emotional book that really moved me. It made me feel. I love a book that makes me feel. That's why I love Goodreads because I would of never of picked this book up. It was all the glowing reviews, that had me picking this one up. I would of really of missed out if I didn't read it.

I loved the characters! I felt this was a character driven novel.
Hadia is strong willed and is very helpful with her brothers and sisters and is very hard working. I really loved her.

Amar is the main character and he has lots of troubles. He is quiet, sensitive and kind. He doesn't seem to fit in with his family very well, and his sister's leave him out of games. He seemed to struggle with their customs and religion beliefs. He doesn't take criticism very well. He doesn't try at all if he doesn't want to. But if he thinks he can do something well or if he wants to he does. I felt so sorry for Amar, my heart went out to him. His family was so strict.

Layla is the mother, and she tries to keep the peace in the family. She seemed to favor Amar more than the other children.

Rafiq, was their Baba, (father) who was very strict with his family, making sure they followed their religious beliefs and culture. He would not let his children to to parties, or friends houses. He did have a big heart.

I really didn't get to know Huda very well but the book mainly focuses on Amar, and he is closer to Hadia. These characters will break your heart.

This is a tender hearted sort of a Muslim Indian American family caught between cultures and a deeply moving story of identity and belonging. It deals with the pleasures and pains of family life including love, faith, betrayal and forgiveness.

I think this book will move you as well as it moved me.

This was a Traveling Sister read and I think it moved all of us. It was a fantastic reading experience.

I want to thank Penguin Random House, and Fatima Farheen Mirtza and Netgalley for the physical copy of this book in exchange for a honest review.
Profile Image for Kaceey.
1,034 reviews3,553 followers
June 13, 2018
Five superb stars⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
A powerful debut novel that explores the complicated relationship of a traditional family existing in a modern world.

Tradition. Respect. Strong words that run deep. Words not only meant to guide ones’ life, but in many ways define it.
Some stay within the tight circle of what they hold to be true. Others, rebellious and curious, seek the lure of the unknown. Would it be possible to find the joy and happiness everyone seeks somewhere in the middle?
To be sure, a delicate line between honoring your heritage while co-existing in the modern culture you find yourself in. For some it may be an easy path. For others it may be a struggle they carry their entire lives.
The very human desire to stay true to who you are without losing your self.

Hadia and her 2 siblings have grown up in a traditional Muslim family in a modern American culture. It is up to them to navigate the pull that each society has on them.

Today Hadia is getting married and her greatest wish is to have her brother Amar standing by her side. A brother that has sadly been estranged from the family for years. Can the family put their differences behind them and come together on this special day? Or will tradition and stubborn minds hold them back from reconciliation.

I believe everyone struggles to find their “Place.” A sense of belonging. To find that bit of peace in this confusing, ever changing world. So, if you’re lucky enough to find yours, hold onto it with everything you have!

This book touched me more than I ever imagined it would and was a major step out of my bubble. With the encouragement of my sisters I embraced it. And what a touching gift it turned out to be. This book and it’s messages will stay with me for a very long time.

An incredible Traveling Sister read! The discussions showed how this book can touch every reader in a different way. Thank you ladies!!

Thank you so much to Goodreads, Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint SJP for Hogarth, Fatima Farheen Mirza, and Penguin Random House for an advanced copy to read and review.
Profile Image for Larry H.
2,481 reviews29.4k followers
May 31, 2018
4.5 stars, rounded up.

Poignant, warm, and thought-provoking, A Place for Us is a tremendously self-assured look at an American Muslim family, and the obligations and tangles that family and religion create.

Family and friends of Rafiq and Layla gather for the wedding of their oldest daughter, Hadia, who has broken tradition by marrying for love and not marrying a match arranged by her parents.

Hadia has always been headstrong, but she has made her parents proud by becoming a doctor, again, not a choice usually made by Muslim daughters. At Hadia's side as always is her younger sister, Huda, dutiful and proud, always looking to keep the peace, which is a quality necessary for her job as a teacher.

While the family is a bit nervous because of the wedding, the tension is increased because Hadia has invited her youngest sibling, their brother Amar, to the wedding. No one has seen him in three years. As the only boy, he was favored, but he was more sensitive, demanding, difficult, and always knew how to provoke feelings of love and dissension among his family members. Hadia wants him to attend the wedding but is also afraid of what unresolved issues he may bring with him.

How did the family get to this point? The book spends a great deal of time looking back, from the days before Rafiq and Layla married and their young family grew, to the days where the challenges began. It is a fascinating exploration of how the most innocent of actions or intentions can go spectacularly awry, and how one decision can cause significant ripples which affect many people. The book also moves beyond the wedding, looking at the aftereffects of events that happened that night.

The majority of the book alternates the narration between Layla, Hadia, and Amar, while later chapters are also narrated by Rafiq. You see the same events through different eyes, what those moments meant, and how they shape events around them. Within each chapter, there are recollections of various events at different times, so it does get a bit confusing trying to determine the time and place of what you're reading.

I found A Place for Us so emotionally rich, a fascinating study of a family struggling with how to reconcile the traditions and beliefs of their religion with the needs and wants of the ever-changing world, particularly post-9/11. All too often there was a depth to the characters I didn't initially expect—ust when I believed a character was acting a particular way for a reason, with a different perspective, my assumptions were flipped.

I thought this was a terrific book, truly a self-assured literary debut by Fatima Farheen Mizra. I honestly never understood much about Muslim families beyond what I've seen on television and in movies, so I welcomed this opportunity to learn more. This book made me realize once again that no matter how different two families may be, the issues they face are often quite similar.

NetGalley, Crown Publishing Group, and SJP for Hogarth provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

See all of my reviews at itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com, or check out my list of the best books I read in 2017 at https://itseithersadnessoreuphoria.blogspot.com/2018/01/the-best-books-i-read-in-2017.html.
Profile Image for Mackenzie - PhDiva Books.
416 reviews14.4k followers
June 13, 2018
I don’t know quite how to put into words how beautiful this book is. It worked its way into my heart. This story feels like it has become a part of me, as though it has changed the way I see the world and other people and cultures. The writing is absolutely breathtaking. I heard it described by SJP as delicate, as though each sentence is spun from glass. I couldn’t say it better! Each word and sentence is so perfectly chosen. Each character is someone I love, and want to cry with and laugh with, and someone I want to remind that they are a good person, even when they make mistakes. Because they care. Because they love. Because they hurt. Because they always try to do better.

How to describe a book like this??

It’s about a family and the complicated experiences that pull family members apart and also draw them back together. Layla and Rafiq had an arranged marriage, and Layla left her family in Hyderabad to move to the United States and start a family with Rafiq. The book begins with their eldest daughter Hadia’s wedding, and their second daughter Huda is helping her get ready. Hadia is marrying for love, a practice which is uncommon in many Muslim communities. On the eve of Hadia’s wedding, her younger brother Amar returns home. Amar has been estranged from his family for many years, but he has always shared a special connection with Hadia. When she reached out to him, he did not know what he would do. But he came for her, and for his family.


There is so much to love about these characters. Layla is torn between the strict customs of her faith, and the desire for her children to have happy, comfortable lives. Rafiq is quiet and seems stern, but he loves and cares so deeply, though he struggles with showing it. Hadia is strong and exceptional, but worries that she will never be as good in her parents eyes because she is a daughter, and not a son. Huda is steady and confident in her beliefs and herself, and speaks the truth even when it may be difficult. And Amar is sensitive and stubborn, but kind and good to all people despite his struggles with his faith and his role in the family and community.

The way this book is written is so beautiful, not only in the words chosen, but in how the story is constructed. Mirza weaves through time as she tells the story of this family. She strings together stories like memories, each tied to each other by an emotion rather than time. Memories are not linear. We don’t remember things in the order they occurred. Sometimes the thread between two stories is delicate, but meaningful nonetheless. Other times it is taut and strong, charged with emotion and unresolved feelings.

As each story layers together, the picture of this family is built. They struggle with the balance between their religion, their family, their community, and themselves. They fear losing one another above all else. They each comb through their memories and thoughts, to try to make sense of Amar’s distance from the family. They each wonder if they are to blame, and if so, could they have prevented it? And most importantly, they love one another so purely. Even when they make mistakes. Even when they are angry. Even when they act from a place of fear or hurt.

This is a book filled with beautiful, breathtaking, heartbreaking, uplifting love.

I read this book with a group of my Traveling Sisters. I found that the discussions we had were so moving. Each person was on their own journey through the book, and had a unique lens through which they were able to find meaning in each scene. For some, it was about being a parent or a child. For others, it was about the feeling of repression. And for others, it was about love and heartache. I loved reading this book and discussing it with my Sisters so much. Even now, we are reflecting and gaining more from this experience. And what this book has done for each one of us is add more nuance to how we view families, love, religion, culture, and community.

I want to thank Sarah Jessica Parker, Fatima Farheen Mirza, SJP for Hogarth, Penguin Random House, and Goodreads for the opportunity to read this book in advance of publication.

I also want to thank the Traveling Sisters, and especially Brenda and Norma, for the opportunity to have such a wonderful reading experience and discussion.
Profile Image for Rachel.
550 reviews863 followers
June 12, 2018
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.

Thank you to Netgalley, First to Read, SJP for Hogarth, and Fatima Farheen Mirza for an advanced copy provided in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for Felice Laverne.
Author 1 book3,198 followers
February 12, 2020
How were they to know the moment that would define them? It will affect his personality for his whole life, someone is saying to her, and whose fault will it be then? Mine, a voice replies, and the voice is hers…What had she done to her brother, so that she could survive, so that she could be the one who thrived?

Fatima Farheen Mirza's A Place for Us has been widely celebrated since its release in mid-June. Lauded for the brilliant display of writing found within these pages equally as much as it has been coveted as Sarah Jessica Parker’s first release from her own publishing imprint, SJP for Hogarth, putting on display her own eye for literary fiction. It was a read that built upon itself in a sort of snowball effect: slow and gently vibrating beneath the surface as the foundation was laid then tumbling still gently but faster down the slope. I found myself comparing it to Everything I Never Told You in its elegance of execution and vibrant, meaningful display of first-generation families trying to navigate the complexities of American life, of a culture so unlike their own. This story is told in metaphors and blood ties. It’s told in memories, regrets, hopes and fears. It’s told in a universal language embedded in one specific culture that any reader can see embodied in their own families. Novels like this one remind us that our families are not so strange or cruel or different at their cores. We all speak the same universal language.

There were so many beautiful moments in Mirza’s debut novel—a book written in vignettes of this family’s life like they jumbled together then come back into focus like a stunning glimpse through a kaleidoscope. I won’t give a synopsis here because the one provided is so fiercely accurate, but I will say that there was so much more to the estrangement of the son and brother, Amar, than I had hoped for. At the start of the novel, with no chapter titles or markers for whose POV was coming next, I couldn’t seem to get my bearings enough to plant roots in the narrative and grow with it. But, eventually, I found my way and moved with the story faster and faster as it picked up speed.

The vignettes were light as a gentle breeze softly lifting a lock of hair, like whispers in your ear. And that was lovely, sure. But, admittedly, there were times when I found myself looking for something more—a climax, any hint of tangible, startling tension. And when I did find it, I couldn’t hold on to it long enough to feel fully satisfied. Perhaps that was the point of the read--Mirza's parting message to us, among others--but it left me unfulfilled. Yet, I felt like I got an honest glimpse at a culture I’m unfamiliar with, like I was sitting at their dinner table with them. At the start I didn’t feel fully embedded in the story. But toward the end, I knew I couldn’t get up from that dinner table and walk away.

All of the characters, especially the siblings at the forefront of the narrative--Hadia, Huda and Amar--are so beautifully and delicately rendered and allowed to unfold. They are complete characters--their parents Rafiq and Layla included--set in their ways and flaws and hopes and dreams in a way that grabs our hearts because we understand them; we root for them and believe we know what their next moves would be, what their truest fears are. A Place for Us is a character-driven piece with such fully imagined characters who quietly take up the page. It tied loose ends together with stunning clarity .

I truly loved how embedded in the Hyderabadi culture this novel was. I knew nothing of the culture and traditions—had never even heard the word “Hyderabadi” before—and yet I could feel the resolution with which this family lived in their faith, the effect it had on them, the generations upon generations of history that each of them carried—both in their routines handed down and in their hearts.

If his father had just hit him back, cursed at him, said to Mumma look how despicable our son is, how batamiz, anything—then maybe he could have gone home again. A punishment was a mercy. It marked the end of a sentence. Without one, he could not imagine recovering from his shame. Nor could he forgive himself for giving action to the hatred he had felt for his father, wanting to hurt him the way he had been hurt by him.

There were moments here where Mirza truly brought these characters into focus even from a Western standpoint, painting them at the time of 9/11—their reaction to it and the fear they carried with them not at all unlike our own. The racism they endured; the ignorance others harbored about them. Those moments stung the way they were intended to; they spoke loudly as they needed to. I will say I'm not a huge fan of the book title or the cover, but this was certainly a brilliant debut from both Fatima Farheen Mirza and this new imprint--both of which I’ll be sure to keep a lookout for in the future! 4 stars ****


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Profile Image for Cheri.
1,712 reviews2,239 followers
May 12, 2018
”There's a place for us,
Somewhere a place for us.
Peace and quiet and open air
Wait for us

“There's a time for us,
Some day a time for us,
Time together with time to spare,
Time to look, time to care,
We'll find a new way of living,
We'll find a way of forgiving

-- Somewhere (A Place For Us) - West Side Story, by Leonard Bernstein; lyrics by Stephen Sondheim

A Muslim family struggles to maintain their religion, traditions and values, all the while hoping for acceptance in modern-day America. Living in California, Rafiq his wife, Layla, and their children, who are no longer children as this story begins - Hadia, Huda and Amar - and a wedding is imminent. A day of celebration, a joining together of Hadia and Tariq, while family and friends gather, witnessing, all in the name of love.

"The wedding was coming together wonderfully. People were arriving on time. There was a table for mango juice and pineapple juice and another for appetizers, replenished as soon as the items were lifted from the platter. White orchids spilled from tall glass vases on every table."

It was Amar’s duty to greet the arriving guests, and although he had stressed a bit beforehand at seeing some of these old, familiar faces, he hadn’t expected the soothing reassurance that came from being surrounded by these familiar faces, these smiles. Years have gone by since he’s seen any of them. Still, Amar is the lost son and brother, reckless, out-of-control, and there are reasons he has left this life behind. Facing them, facing those who have let him down as much as he’s let them down, is difficult for him. Each time, it takes a little bit more out of him. Most of all, he can’t bear to disappoint Hadia once again, and he can’t bear the thought of looking in his father’s eyes and seeing the unasked questions, seeing the disappointment. And the thought of seeing Amira, the girl he loved, loves still, is almost unbearable.

Hadia is marrying Tariq, but while the ceremony will be traditional, the marriage is not. Hadia did not want an arranged marriage, and so she is marrying the man she chose to love. Her one rebellion against the old ways, traditions.

As people revisit old memories, the story moves back and forth in time, sharing the stories of these characters. Rafiq and Layla’s story, and the stories of their children. Drugs, alcohol, 9/11 and how that affects them, arranged marriages vs. those based on an existing love, how their beliefs are refashioned around these changes, and others.

The father, Rafiq, upon seeing his son Amar, revisits his life. The good, the bad and even the unintentional mistakes made, and tries to see a way to re-make the past, to patch the old breaks, polish the rough surfaces away. To find a way to a new beginning for all of them, and he views this all through a lens of his own faith, and his vision of the future coloured by hope. He knows that the sadness will always be a part of the past, and so his focus is on what lies ahead.

I thought this was lovely, heartbreaking at times, but a lovely story that shares sincere and complex feelings, values and beliefs, both religious and personal. My heart broke for this family, for each of them in turn. I loved the themes of faith and home, and that this book slowly reveals how much more alike we all are than not, reminding us that diversity ought to be embraced, and I loved it for that.

I wanted to read this after reading my goodreads friend Diane’s wonderful review, please check it out: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show...

This is Fatima Farheen Mirza’s debut novel, as well as the first book of Sarah Jessica Parker’s imprint at Hogarth. What a wonderful ‘entrance’ for SJP!

Pub Date: 12 JUN 2018

Many thanks for the ARC provided by SJP for Hogarth / Crown Publishing
Profile Image for Kendall.
635 reviews633 followers
June 12, 2018
How do you write a review for a book that takes your breath away and leaves you speechless?

There is something I know that is true.... my review cannot do this book justice in how powerful and beautiful this piece of literature truly is but I will try! :)

A Place for Us is a place for ME, a place for YOU, a place for EVERYONE. Fatima Farheen Mirza's debut explores an inspiring masterpiece about love, identity, culture, and a sense of belonging.

Fatima's writing is absolutely flawless.... the onion keeps peeling and the tears continue to drop as you take in each poetic sentence.

This novel is an intimate character driven story at it's finest that will leave you falling in love over and over again with this Indian- American Muslim family. I think this has been one of the most complex and honest portrayals of a family I have ever experienced within a novel. I absolutely LOVED this family.

This story is told from alternate perspectives of Amar, Hadia, and Layla. The author ever so beautifully interweaves the story of their lives through each character's perspective chapter by chapter.

With all the struggles in this world, this book instilled faith, hope, and inspiration like I never would have imagined. This is SUCH a powerful piece that I will never forget.

I was absolutely honored to join my traveling sisters with this one and the connections/discussions we had over this book made the experience even more priceless.

"There's a place for us, Somewhere a place for us. Peace and quiet and open air. Wait for us. Somewhere."

5 flawless stars!!! This has easily become one of my favorite reads for 2018. I definitely wasn't expecting that... it was a lovely surprise :).

A huge thank you to Goodreads, Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint SJP for Hogarth, Fatima Farheen Mirza, and Penguin Random House for kindly providing a physical copy in exchange for an honest review.
June 18, 2018
4.5 stars!

Emotional. Eye-opening. Beautiful. Breathtaking. Intense. Raw. Unforgettable.

This novel follows the lives of a Muslim Indian American family. The eldest daughter, Hadia, is getting married which brings the family back together under one roof after being apart for the last few years.

Let me start by saying, the writing was absolutely stunning, exquisite and quite simply – perfection. The fact that this author is 27 years old is mind-blowing. She writes with such maturity, elegance and beauty that the words have no choice but to lift off the page and work their way deep into your heart.

These characters are real. I feel like I know them. Each and every character came to life for me – they stirred up my emotions and had me enthralled in this heart wrenching story.

This story will make you think. It will make you feel. It will challenge your thoughts and beliefs.

This was a very memorable Traveling Sister read – one of the best I’ve participated in. This was a wonderful book to read together and discuss along the way. Thank you to all my lovely Traveling Sisters who participated in this discussion, largely enhancing my reading enjoyment! To find this review, along with the other Traveling Sister reviews, please visit Brenda and Norma's fabulous blog at:


A big thank you to Brenda & Norma, Goodreads, SJP for Hogarth and Fatima Farheen Mirza for providing a physical ARC in exchange for an honest review!
June 20, 2018
Norma and I read A Place For Us with 18 of our Traveling Sisters. Right from the very first mention of reading this book we were excited and had no idea the incredible reading experience that awaited for us. With a few sisters who mostly stick to thrillers and were a little hesitant at first as this was not their normal read we all dived in together and were immediately drawn into this family and story.

I will not be able to beautifully put my thoughts together or write a review as beautiful as my Traveling Sisters have with their reviews but I am going to try by sharing from my heart how much this story touched us and how it made us feel.

Sometimes a book hits in ways you don’t expect and everything becomes clear as to why you read and you seek book after book chasing that incredible feeling of finding that book that really spoke to you leaving you feeling so privileged to have read it. A Place For Us was that book for us.

Fatima Farheen Mirza took us on an emotional journey like we have never experienced before and we really wished we could have been lost in a coulee for real reading this together and hiding from the demands of life to solely focus on this read and reading experience. We took our time and savored every word and moment of this beautiful and gracefully written story as well with our very meaningful discussion. Through this journey, we experienced so many emotions as we read and discussed this story together.

Fatima Farheen Mirza does an amazing job of inviting us into the lives of this Muslim family and showing us their love, their struggle to find balance, their convictions, mistakes, their inner struggles and most of all, what they held dear to them as a family. We instantly connected with them and they became our family. They became us and we could see ourselves, our neighbors and our community in them. We could truly see the magic of Mirza’s talent and her ability to bring the private parts of this family to life not just by their struggles of each finding their place within their culture and religion but also with finding their place in this world. This allowed us to see the story on a more universal level that can be related to any family.

So much emotional depth to this one and we dug deep into the layers and really took our time discussing this story. Our hearts were twisted, broken and we were in agony at times with our emotions. After finishing reading this story, some of us were left weeping and others speechless as we felt our hearts were ripped out from our chests. In the end, we all came together and shared our feelings towards this tender story that touched us in so many similar ways yet so differently at times.

For a short time, we found our place together reading this unforgettable story and it will always be a very special Sister Read for us all.

Thank you so much to Goodreads, Sarah Jessica Parker's new imprint SJP for Hogarth, Fatima Farheen Mirza, and Penguin Random House for bringing us all together for this Incredible Traveling Sister Read by providing us with the opportunity to read and review an advanced physical copy of this book

Profile Image for Karen.
561 reviews1,103 followers
May 1, 2018
A Place For Us is a first novel for Fatima Farheen Mirza, and a first literary work acquired by Sarah Jessica Parker as editorial director for SJP for Hogarth.

This is the story of a Muslim Indian American family, and their community, living in California.
It begins with the wedding of Rafiq and Layla’s daughter Hadia’s wedding, a marriage based on love instead of the tradition. This wedding brings back together a family of five, including an estranged younger brother, Amar. The novel goes back and forth in time through the years of the children’s growing to adulthood.
The author did such a great job of of exploring the issues of love and loss, familial and cultural expectations, honor, betrayal, faith and tradition... and each characters perspective on the different situations as the story unfolded.
I loved this family and will be thinking about them for quite some time, I’m sure.

Thank you to NetGalley, SJP for Hogarth, and especially to Fatima for a beautiful first novel!!!
Profile Image for Jen CAN.
475 reviews1,308 followers
December 12, 2018
A wedding reunites a family together after 3 years. The past is relived through each family member. The struggles they have had adapting and growing up in America and hanging onto their indian heritage, culture and religion.
A son, Amar, returns after a 3 year absence that has created much pain for every family member.
Coping with individual losses, this is a story of compassion; Of hurt; of love. Many misunderstandings and miscommunications creating a life of regrets.
This will squeeze and twist your heart.
Profile Image for JanB .
1,127 reviews2,294 followers
June 14, 2018
This is a beautiful book, both visually and in it's content. It’s a slow burn, a quiet novel with such beautifully expressed thoughts that it would be impossible to read without being deeply affected. I’m in awe that this is a debut novel of a 26-year-old author. Believe all the hype and glowing reviews – this book is deserving of all of it.

The book opens in California with the wedding of Hadia, the eldest of 3 siblings in an Indian-American Muslim family. The estranged brother, Amar, surprisingly attends and stirs up deep-seated complicated family relationships. It is clear something has happened in this family to create a rift, and the reasons are slowly revealed as the story seamlessly toggles back and forth in time, in a non-chronological order. The reader wanders through the memories of this family as we experience them through various points of view. Each memory, each perspective, gives us more insight.

The last 100 or so pages are devoted to a first-person account from Rafiq, the father, and they are riveting. Reading this section tore my heart out and stomped on it, not in a manipulative way, but in a contemplative way. It’s been a long time since a book affected me this deeply.

Although an Indian Muslim family is at its center, there’s such a universality to Mizra’s writing that each reader will find it relatable in some way. Some of the themes include family dynamics, unmet expectations, betrayal, forgiveness, and acceptance. Also explored are the seemingly small, inconsequential decisions that are made every day but which have the power to create a devastasting ripple effect through the decades. It’s about bridging the gap between tradition and the modern world, and the children’s struggle to find a place in the family, in their home, and in the world. The author explores all of these themes with a tenderness and compassion that is extraordinary.

This debut of 26-year-old Mirza is the first book from Sarah Jessica Parker's imprint at Hogarth. I can’t wait to see what the author and the imprint publishes next.

*I read this book with the Traveling Sisters group, and it inspired deep discussions. This would make an excellent book club selection. 

For the review of this book and others please visit https://twosisterslostinacoulee.com

*I received both an e-galley and a print copy from the publisher. Thanks to Netgalley, SJP for Hogarth, the author Fatima Farheen Mirza, and Penguin Random House for providing the ARCs in exchange for an honest review
Profile Image for Dem.
1,184 reviews1,080 followers
June 26, 2018
Didn't have the wow factor for me.

Children are not born with a manual and parenting is something we all figure out as we go along. Are we to blame for our children's mistakes ?
. A place for us is a book that explores family and religion and what it is like to be brought up in a family where rules and religion are priorities and bringing "shame" on the family can cause so much pain.
An Indian-American Muslim family, trying to raise their children with the traditions and customs they themselves have lived and obeyed and the hurt and shame when children move away from a culture or beliefs that has been handed down through the family for generations.
There was much about this book that I could relate to with being Irish and Catholic and how religion played a huge part in every aspect of my upbringing and how I am seeing a new generation of teens challenge and question this religion.

While I enjoyed this book I did find this one a slow burner and never really looked forward to picking it up. I had my own thoughts on the family and how they dealt with things and I really couldn't sympathise or warm to any of them. I found the first half of the book really strong and engaging but the second half became repetive and drawn out and by the end I was glad to finish this one.

Some readers enjoy a family saga and may well love this book as it is well written, characters real and interesting but I just couldn't give it any more than three stars as it just didnt pack any real punch for me.
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