We Have Always Been Here

I chose this book for one of my reading challenges this year based on nothing more than the good reviews it was receiving.  I didn’t know much about it and was hoping that I wouldn’t be disappointed.  Wow, was this a good book and I am so glad that I read it.  I have already recommended it to a few friends and am eager to hear what they think.

Samra Habib is an Ahmadi Muslim, born in Pakistan, and raised in a traditional household. Forced to flee religious persecution, her family settles in Canada where everything is different from the world she grew up in.  Samra writes in great detail what the next 30 years of her life are like, from realizing what it means to be queer not only in society but as a Muslim, and to what family truly means to her.

Things I Liked:

There are many things that I absolutely loved about this book.  I chose this book for the reading challenge prompt: read a memoir by someone from a religious tradition that is not your own, knowing that my knowledge of the Muslim faith is basic at best.  I was also curious to see how Samra’s faith and queerness would intersect; and she does a great job of showing that she doesn’t have to be one or the other.  She is not JUST Muslim and not JUST queer, she is both.  I think this message of acceptance is something everyone needs to hear, not just religious people or LGBTQ people and I found myself inspired by her story throughout reading.   Her writing is vivid and descriptive and it was easy to be immersed in where she was.  Her descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of her home in Pakistan were especially moving.  

Things I didn’t Like:

There was really nothing in this book that I didn’t like.

Conclusion:

This is a book that I feel everyone would benefit from reading, regardless of their faith or sexual orientation.  At its heart, it’s a book about self-acceptance in a world that can be tough for people who identify as “other.”  The message of tolerance and acceptance is one that we need now more than ever and this book is a beautiful testament to the power of inclusivity.

Favorite Quote:

There were many quotes in this book that spoke to me so it’s hard to pick just one. Instead, I have 2 to share. 

“What if I were to renew my vows to myself, and ask guests to share what our friendship means to them?  Did I need the occasion of marriage to feel validated by those I love, or to celebrate love itself?”

“Grown-ups, who are supposed to protect their children, are limited by what ‘best’ has felt like to them, based on the circumstances they grew up in and the privilege they did or did not have. The lines between grown-up and child were often blurred between me and my mom. Her ‘best’ did not look like mine; in fact, it looked like danger. It looked like surrender.”

Author:  Samra Habib

Published:  June 4th 2019

Rating:  5 Stars

 

read harder 2020

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