A debut memoir, told from the perspective of a young Pakistani immigrant, that examines the meaning of liberty.
In 1986, 18-year-old Master had spent years planning his trip from Pakistan to the United States; after he finally gets accepted by the University of Texas at Arlington, it seemed that nothing could go wrong for him. What follows is a sometimes-harsh reminder that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side of the fence (or the pond), as the author discusses his initial homesickness and the depression that followed as he struggled to adapt to the Western way of life. However, by studying the failures and successes of some of America’s greatest entrepreneurs, he says, he was able to regain his conviction. Things slowly began to turn around for him, and he got married to an American girl after five years in the United States. Master also decided to convert to Christianity, leaving his family’s Muslim heritage behind. Although he tells of struggling to gain his family’s acceptance of his new religion, he also is careful to emphasize that being American has nothing to do with the church that one attends: “The mission of this book is to communicate that being an American is not about ethnicity, religion, or the color of your skin….It is our shared values and freedoms that make us uniquely American.” Several black-and-white family photos are included throughout as the narrative jumps back and forth between his childhood in Pakistan and his new life in the United States. This alternating narrative structure works surprisingly well, as the shifts allow the reader to compare cultural differences. The author also keenly focuses on what he believes are the “Five Freedoms” that some Americans take for granted: the freedom to fail, the freedom to love, freedom of religion, the freedom to build, and the freedom to self-govern. By considering these, the author hopes to remind readers of the best elements of America.
An often inspiring tribute to the bonds of family and country.