The Risk I Took to Keep My Best Friend in America, and What It Taught Us About Love


The story of a young writer who married her best friend to save them both.

On Nov. 17, 2001, 22-year-old Monroy (Writing/Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Mexican High, 2008) and her friend, Emir, were married in Las Vegas by an officiant dressed as Elvis. The ceremony’s theatrical air couldn’t have been more appropriate, for the pair was impersonating a straight couple in love in the service of facilitating permanent residency for Emir, a gay man from the Middle East who couldn’t go home. Emir and the author, both aspiring screenwriters, had bonded years before while students at Emerson College. Both spoke three languages and had spent much of their childhoods outside the United States: Monroy accompanied her mother on her various posts in the Foreign Service, and Emir ventured to the States for the first time as an undergraduate international student. Following 9/11, Emir felt the pressure of heightened scrutiny of international students in the U.S., especially those of Muslim descent. Fearing her best friend would soon be deported to his home country, where others were routinely jailed and killed for being gay, Monroy proposed that Emir become her husband. At the time, the author was still smarting from having called off her engagement with a longtime beau, so the idea of platonic companionship proved attractive: “My initial thought process went something like this: romantic love is difficult and complicated. Marrying your gay best friend for his green card, by comparison, is not.” Monroy then examines how naïve that line of thinking was, as the two found themselves repeatedly having to conceal Emir’s sexuality from his homophobic father and their marriage from Monroy’s immigration fraud–fighting mother, co-workers, prospective love interests and, especially, the immigration officer who conducted Emir’s green card interview.

An accessible if slightly self-indulgent account showing the complexity of immigrating to the U.S. alongside semiprofound reflections on the meaning of marriage.

Pub Date: Jan. 14th, 2014
ISBN: 978-1-59376-536-1
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: Soft Skull Press
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15th, 2014


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