Evaluating Tradition and Perspective in “A Place for Us”

by RikkiLynn Shields, Social Media Editor

“Sex and the City” star Sarah Jessica Parker, better known as Carrie Bradshaw, recently launched her own imprint, SJP for Hogarth, alongside publisher Molly Stern of Crown and Hogarth. The first novel published under Parker’s new imprint was “A Place for Us” by Fatima Farheen Mirza– a novel that exemplifies storytelling at its finest and is strikingly lifelike.

“A Place for Us” is centered around all things love, acceptance and identity. The novel begins by unfolding the lives of an Indian-American Muslim family, who, at the beginning of the novel, are all gathered together in their California hometown for the eldest daughter, Hadia’s, wedding. Hadia’s wedding, however, is the first in the family to go against the tradition, and rather abides by true love.

It is at Hadia’s wedding that Hadia’s sister Huda notices their brother, Amar, the youngest of the siblings, who decides to reappear in the lives of his family after not being seen or heard from for three years. While the siblings parents, Rafiq and Layla, worked hard to pass on tradition and culture to their children, they must now come to learn, understand and accept what choices and treachery lead to the disappearance of their son– all on the day of their eldest daughter’s wedding to a man outside of their own culture.

The day of Hadia’s wedding brings to light a struggle all of the children have faced and continue to face– the fight between exposing one’s true identity or one that is expected and must be upheld in a traditional household. “A Place for Us” allows the reader to see the life of each character through their own eyes, also putting the entire family dynamic into perspective from different points of view.

Mirza has a fantastic way of spanning the novel across decades, beginning with the culture, tradition and bonds that brought the entire family together, to the disputes and differences that ended up tearing them apart. Among the three siblings, the constant strive to reconcile with their present culture alongside the faith and traditions of their parents epitomizes what it means to be a Muslim-American family.

It isn’t quite often that a book this wonderful tip-toes into your life. Mirza’s novel is a written with love and compassion for all things, and as all of the reviews say, is truly a book for our times. After coming across this novel through Sarah Jessica Parker’s Instagram once, and purchasing it on my Kindle after her third or fourth post, it was clear from the first page that Mirza and her storytelling encompasses something truly special.

A Place for Us is more than just words on a page. A Place for Us is a living, breathing, piece of work that allows the reader to feel every single connection and every single heartbreak throughout the entire novel. Not only is this story an unforgettable journey, but the message behind the story comes at the right time– a person’s behavior, words, or appearance by no means is a true indication of what they’re sincerely feeling of experiencing.