The author of this book, Ranya Tabari Idliby, is an American Muslim who refused to side with one culture or another, but who wanted to be known for who she was. She wanted to be respected for keeping her faith and convictions true to her own values and that of her family. Her father was from Palestine, but was known as an “American engineer”. Her mother met her father in Kuwait where Ms. Idliby was born. Her family came to the U.S. and celebrated being Muslim by accepting all cultures and religions as valid (they even may have had a Christmas tree or two). She later settled in Virginia and became a full-fledged American citizen. But, after 9/11, the author had to navigate the overgeneralized prejudices of others regarding Muslims. She struggled with whether or not to require her children to continue pursuing Muslim practices. Sadly, she also sometimes felt that she was considered as not enough of a Muslim by her own people–for having embraced a decidedly American lifestyle.
I got the impression that the author wanted to reassure herself that her choices for her family were the right ones – as she carefully walked the line between both Muslim and American cultures – but I think Ms. Idliby does understand that people who hate and who hold deep seated prejudices will always act out of fear and ignorance. The book shows that the author regrets and laments that she may never be accepted as both a Muslim and an American. She had even denied her children the opportunity to go to a French speaking school because she preferred for them to learn our nation’s founding fathers’ theories and dictum (at the loss of the advantage of being fluent in French). Ms. Idliby is looking for joy, a unified rejoicing in a God of peace, and the perpetuating of her ideals for all Muslims which she rightfully wants her children to learn correctly from herself and her husband.
It is possible to celebrate Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America regardless of your faith or religion. I applaud Ms. Idliby for trying and also succeeding in making the point that we still have room, and can make more room, for anyone and everyone who comes to this country and wants to make a real difference.
I recommend this book to anyone. I would also encourage a forward thinking English or Social Studies teacher, professor or instructor to pick it up and assign it as required reading for next semester because of the lively debates that it would spark.
After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Palgrave Macmillan. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.