From Goodreads: 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.
I stayed up too late over the weekend finishing A Place For Us and nearly made it through the entire book without crying. And then I got to the last four pages and had a cry fest on my couch.
Let me say that the writing is absolutely gorgeous. The majority of the book consists of nonlinear flashbacks but Mirza gives you enough information and detail to visualize where in the history of this family they take place. It could easily feel scattered but she keeps the prose fluid and always moving. There are leaps in time but I didn't have trouble keeping up in that sense.
This is a book I have a hard time professing love for, partially because I know how certain readers might be disappointed by it. It reminded me a lot of A Little Life in the sense that it's both haunting and beautiful, emotionally complex and incredibly simple. I'm doing my best not to spoil but please be careful if you've not yet read it. A Place For Us is a slow burn and the payoff is not in how the plot and story end, but rather, in experiencing the heights and depths of the intricacies of the human experience. It's a love letter to what could have been and the missteps along the way. Part four is where it all comes together and it's worth it to keep reading. This isn't a book to get lost in the plot and drama of one family. It's slow and nuanced and so full of tenderness and ache. I enjoyed the book because it made me feel something and it's one I know I will think of often. Part of me wants to hate it because I didn't get the resolution I wanted. All in all, I'm blown away by Mirza's debut novel at such a young age (27!). I would love to discuss if you've read this one - I'm definitely still processing. You can pick it up at your local indie bookstore or online from amazon.
Thanks so much to TLC Book Tours and Hogarth Publishing for providing a free copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions my own.