Our longing for a place to belong


In the Language of Miracles by Rajia Hassib

Book Review – 5 star rating

This is a beautifully written debut novel that I enjoyed very much.  It’s sensitive, lyrical, mesmerizing, suspenseful and heart breaking.  A family immigrates from Egypt to America and tries so hard to become a part of their new country.  A tragedy caused by one of them sets off a negative reaction to the innocent members of the family.  The novel explores grief, survivorship, culture and human relationships, along with our longing for home and a place to belong, in such an honest and heartfelt way.

At the beginning of each chapter, there is a popular saying in America, such as “Those who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones” and the same saying in Arabic.  The sayings were so similar in each of the two conflicting cultures and I thought it was a lovely way of showing the connection between the two ethnic groups in the midst of many differences.

This is a very moving book.  From the young Khaled, who struggles to find his own place in the world out of the shadow of his brother to the matriarch of the family, Ehsan, who relies on the old world ways of walking through the home waving a bowl of incense while praying and baking a special bread to take to cemetery visits to give to the poor, each will touch your heart.  This is a book you will think about long after you lay it down.  I loved it.

This book was given to me by First to Read in exchange for an honest review.


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