Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger. When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space became dire.
... gifts the reader with a tale of (re)discovery centered around themes of family, sexuality, and spirituality ... The story that Samra shares is at once raw and at times emotionally draining, but also one that draws our eye to the filament of hope and potential that is interlaced into each of our lives ... invites the reader on a journey to understand, with the author, one’s journey to understanding self and their position in various communities ... an accessible and challenging text that fosters an essential sense of perspective for the reader and encourages them to consider how non-monolithic the world around them really is ... a frank and potent sharing of an intimately personal life narrative. Samra Habib manages to draw you in with a raw view of her life trajectory that feels almost unfiltered, casting light on everything from the traumatic to the transformative to the mundane. Uninformed readers, with little knowledge of Islam, might be tempted to look at the more troubling parts of Samra’s story as validation of Islamophobia, but the self-aware approach that Samra Habib takes in telling her uniquely queer Muslim story abates this outlook. This story is an important one for the western LGBTQ+ community to hear because it provides such fantastic perspective into the life of a queer woman who, at least in many western countries, is also a member of a minority faith.
... there's a tremendous amount of emotional wisdom packed into each chapter. [Habib's] life has all the fodder of a riveting tale, but it is Habib's narration of these events that renders her memoir so powerful ... If it is the book's aspect as a queer Muslim memoir that distinguishes it for marketing purposes, it is Habib's engagement with a range of oppressions that provides its powerful moral compass ... Habib's childhood memories are both sweet and heartwarming, yet don't shy away from the repressive cruelties she's experienced ... Habib's style is compelling and intimate, thoughtful, and reflexive. She achieves an affective immediacy, which not only expresses her developing and shifting sense of self but helps the reader share a sense of what she's feeling at these different stages of her life ... what's most striking about Habib's memoir is the sense of compassion with which she writes ... a work of tremendous beauty and wisdom ... Habib's journey through life is riveting, rendered even more compelling by a masterly balance of tone and pacing. The book moves quickly, propelled by a well-structured narrative and light and fluid prose. The narrative flows like honey, pooling and building tension around the difficult moments in her life, and then pouring forward once again in a burst of forgiveness, a moment of self-realization or a recognition of the need to move on ... a masterpiece of memoir that operates on many levels – political, emotional, spiritual. Harrowing at times, it is also heartwarming and inspirational. It's a book that urgently needs to be read in the present moment, for as eye-opening as many readers will probably find it, it's work such as this that has the greatest potential to open readers' hearts.
In this unforgettable memoir, journalist and activist Habib creates space and representation for the next generation of queer Muslim voices ... The memoir reads like a love letter to Habib’s younger self: she begs readers to embrace radical, unavoidable, beautiful change in themselves and those around them, and to know that it will always lead them closer to their truest selves.