Did you manage to finish, A Place For Us?
It is the story of a Muslim family of five who struggles with their heritage in a new world in their own ways. It is a story of family foremost, religion and nation are powerful themes but for me, they are secondary to the relationships between the five.
I found Fatima Farheen Mirza’s writing to be exquisitely observant and powerful in its simplicity. How one so young could understand with such depth and clarity the connections and disconnections in this world. This is a debut novel and for that, it is even more astounding to read and re-read her perceptions.
I asked Fatima how she managed to be so observant and so engaged with her characters at such a young age. She has such a generous and warm spirit and kindly answered my question. Here is what she said,
“I would say that each time I sat down and tried to imagine the characters, I wanted to also imagine the details of their life.
The little tics or habits, such as Hadia pressing her nails into her arm, and how that might be a habit that lasts her whole life. And how those who know her might be able to witness it as well, and I wondered what do they think of it? Surprisingly or unsurprisingly it is only Amar who picks up on it, and that too from a very young age.
So I just wanted to always note the particulars of their existence, and understand what their life really looked like, smelt like, felt like.”
There were moments where I felt lost, but not many, and there were passages I marked as they moved me profoundly. I didn’t want A Place For Us To End and I didn’t want it to end the way it did and yet I understand there is no real end. How could there be?
“Amar was their son. Even the word son felt like something shiny and golden to her, like the actual sun that reigned over their days.”
I wonder about Amar? What happened to him and where is he now? Thinking about him makes me recognise the impact of Fatima’s words; he is a fictional character I don’t want to let go. Amar is the most ‘problematic’ in the family, hard to understand and confusing at times yet he is the centrepiece of her story.
“You have a choice, Amar. All of us are in this same boat, but you are the only one who chooses to thrash about, making unnecessary waves. You can be still. You can go with the flow. That way, you’ll save energy to swim when you need to.”
Tell me your thoughts – whether you managed to finish, A Place For Us, whether you loved it or didn’t – all and everything. I will respond in the comment section. xv
I Would Like To Know
How did A Place For Us make you feel? Are you glad you read it?
Did you find the narrative gripping? Did it hold your attention? Could you identify, respond and react to Fatima’s multidimensional characters?
Who was your favourite character? Did you change loyalties as the book progressed?
Did you have a favourite passage? Are there sections of the story you re-read?
The ending? How did you feel about it?
Is it the kind of book you would normally read? Was it challenging and creatively rewarding as a reader?
Did you like it? Would you recommend it?