Next book



A poignantly told memoir about a life fiercely lived.

A queer Muslim woman recounts her emotional, sexual, and spiritual unfurling.

In her debut, writer, photographer, and activist Habib begins with her childhood in Pakistan, where she learned the protective value of hiding, which insulated her from public stigma (and her mother’s private devastation) after Habib survived child sexual abuse at age 4. Hiding also provided tenuous safety for her Ahmadi Muslim family amid growing state and extremist violence against the religious minority. Masking her feelings also proved useful when her family sought asylum in Canada and “traded one set of anxieties for another.” There, the author endured racist bullying, growing alienation from her family, and the despair of her arranged marriage at 16: “Getting to know men was not something the women in my family were encouraged to do. They were to be avoided at all times, like attack dogs without muzzles.” After desperation drove Habib to attempt suicide, her survival pushed her to emerge from under the patriarchal, homophobic expectations of both her culture of origin and the broader Western culture within which she matured. She started by bravely defying her forced union, which propelled her on a challenging, revelatory journey to return to her queerness, faith, and family (biological and chosen). Religious and secular readers alike will be touched by the way Habib’s faith has been strengthened, rather than undermined, by Islamophobia as well as by the compassion and candor with which she examines her complex filial relationships. Triumphantly, the narrative culminates in scenes of a life full of purpose, power, and belonging. Habib found a LGBTQ–centered mosque, created a queer Muslim portrait project, and accepted invitations to speak all over the world. Though the author’s prose is occasionally overworked, the book is a moving example of resilience and healing in the face of racial, sexual, and familial trauma.

A poignantly told memoir about a life fiercely lived.

Pub Date: June 4, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-7352-3500-7

Page Count: 272

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: March 23, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2019

Next book


The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

Next book



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

Close Quickview