A Place For Us [Book Review]

July 13, 2018

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza

A Place For Us by Fatima Farheen Mirza (cover) Image: black text over a white moon behind a house in silhouette

Genre/Categories: Contemporary Fiction, Muslim, Family Life, Cultural Heritage

***This post contains Amazon affiliate links.


A Place For Us shares the story of an Indian-American Muslim family whom we meet as they gather to celebrate a family wedding. Through flashbacks, readers are filled in on the family dynamics, family history, and become acquainted with the parents, Rafiq and Layla, and their three children, Hadia, Huda, and Amar. Told mostly from the perspectives of Layla, Hadia, and Amar, readers begin to appreciate the complexity of family relationships, understand the bonds that draw the family together, and become acquainted with the personalities along with the insecurities and rivalries that cause conflict. In light of the parents’ conservative Muslim faith and living in California, the children must find their way in reconciling the faith of their parents and their traditional ways with the reality of day-to-day lives, and individual hopes and dreams. At the wedding of the oldest daughter, which breaks with tradition and is a union of love and not arranged by parents, Amar, the prodigal son, reunites with his family for the first time in three years. The last part of the story is told from the father’s heartfelt perspective. This is a story of love, identity, parenting, coming of age, faith, and belonging.

Amazon Rating (July early reviews): 4.5 Stars

My Thoughts:

A Place For Us is by far the best story I’ve read this year! It shattered my 5 star rating scale! In addition to being a favorite this year, it will likely end up on my list of lifetime favorites. A Place For Us includes all the elements I really love in a great story; however, I know reading is personal and you may not feel the same.

Why all the love?

Two of the elements I love best in a great story are important themes and well-drawn characters. A Place For Us features well-developed characters, complicated family dynamics, complex relationships, issues of faith, parenting woes and joys, diversity, moral dilemmas, regrets, compassion, grace, loyalty, finding one’s voice, etc. I love that at the end of conflict, misunderstanding, best intentions, and brokenness, there is grace and mercy and love.

What about the themes?

When I first considered A Place For Us, I wondered what I would have in common with a Muslim family and ended the read filled with compassion, empathy, and understanding…and thinking that we have more similarities than differences.  Here are some of the themes that were the most thought provoking:

  • Conservative religious values: I was raised in a conservative religious home and I relate to some of the concerns the children experience when reconciling the strict expectation of the parents with the secular culture in which they are growing up.
  • Parenting: worrying about each child for different reasons, striving to make things fair while meeting individual needs, trying one’s best (having good intentions) and still making mistakes, failure, heartache and grief if there’s estrangement, etc.
  • A woman’s independence and voice in a male dominated culture.
  • Parents that are broken by regret and grief.
  • Children seeking parental approval and blessing.
  • Sibling competition, achievement, support, loyalty.
  • A parent’s helplessness and concern over a struggling child.
  • A young adult’s need to differentiate from the family.
  • Fathers that are broken by regret and grief.
  • Traditions.
  • Faith
  • Prodigal son.
  • The immigrant experience causes me to consider what my great grandparents faced as immigrants.

What did I appreciate?

I appreciate the multi faceted, multi layered, kind, insightful, compassionate, and gentle look at family and faith. I find it refreshing that it wasn’t a dysfunctional family….just a real one with authentic and relatable problems. At the end, though, it seems like it’s the son’s story (Amar), and I’d love a sequel!

Favorite Quote:

“Of all my mistakes the greatest, the most dangerous, was not emphasizing the mercy of God.”  ~Rafiq


I highly recommend A Place For Us for readers who love well written, thoughtful, and poignant family drama, for those who desire more diversity in their reading life or for those who are in a Muslim family, and for readers who don’t want to miss out on one of the most talked about and highly rated books of the year.

What I’d like you to know, though, is that the author’s use of flashbacks makes the reader work hard in the beginning to construct understanding as the flashbacks move swiftly from character to character and hop between time periods; one reviewer remarks that it is like looking through a kaleidoscope and every time it turns we see the story change, creating a new picture that allows readers to see different facets that provide a deeper understanding. It was my experience that as the story progressed and I became more comfortable with the author’s style and became better acquainted with the characters, the reading became easier.

A child's brightly colored kaleidoscope

A brightly colored Kaleidoscope pattern

My Rating: 5+ Stars


a place for us

A Place For Us Information Here

Meet the Author, Fatima Farheen Mirza

fatima farheen mirza

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.

 Let’s Discuss!

What are some of the most memorable family stories that you’ve read?

Do you enjoy or seek out diverse reads?

What are you reading this week?

Happy Reading Bookworms!

“Ah, how good it is to be among people who are reading.”
~Rainer Maria Rilke

“I love the world of words, where life and literature connect.”
~Denise J Hughes

“Reading good books ruins you for enjoying bad ones.”
~Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

“I read because books are a form of transportation, of teaching, and of connection!
Books take us to places we’ve never been, they teach us about our world, and they help us to understand human experience.”
~Madeleine Riley, Top Shelf Text

My Summer TBR

I’ll be updating my Summer TBR list as I complete each read, so check this link often!
(So far I’ve read a handful, some I’ve been more thrilled with than others, and I’ve only abandoned one)

A Link I Love:

The Novel Endeavor: Summer Reading Guide For Families: Adoption Stories

Looking Ahead:

 For the remainder of July I’m expecting to review The Widows of Malabar Hill, provide a July wrap up, choose the most compelling character from July reading, and also anticipate my first blogiversary with a give away (tbd).

the widows of malabar hill

Amazon Information Here

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Unless explicitly stated that they are free, all books that I review have been purchased by me or borrowed from the library.

Book Cover and author photos are credited to Amazon or an author’s (or publisher’s) website.

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  1. Hi Carol– Soon as I read your earlier recommendation of this book I went down and put my name on the waiting list at the library. I think I will love it for al the reasons you’ve mentioned –many of which apply to our own family. I’m hoping it would be a great read for our book club. thanks thanks. Currently reading– The Perfect Mother and Educated. I’ll be watching to see what you read coming up… hugs!

    • Yes…A Place For Us will make an excellent book club discussion….so many great themes! I think it’s an especially poignant and tender read for parents. I also appreciate reading books from a different culture. I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! I’ve read Educated…..an amazing story!

    • I think it is the best of the year for me…..but it’s so personal…..I had an emotional connection to the story on many levels and it gave me an extreme hangover. If you’re looking for a fast paced plot this might not be as enjoyable for you. Thanks for stopping in and commenting!

  2. I’d love to read this, especially after the two books I just finished, one is Latifa Al-Zayyat’s recently republished The Open Door, a coming of age novel of a young woman, trying to cope with the strange new feelings that are overwhelming her as she comes of age and the expectations of her family and peers, the social codes of the time. It’s intense, and obviously a little dated, but so interesting and the author was so ahead of her time as a woman writer in Egypt. The other book I finished just before it, was published in 2018 and is also the story of a young woman, who fled with her parents from Iran to live in exile in France, it is both a contemporary story of her life now (its fiction) and flashbacks to her life in Iran and family stories that have stayed with her and that really are a part of her. It’s brilliant, unique, engaging and insightful, highly recommended.

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