Welcome to Read this Book, a newsletter where I recommend one book that needs to jump onto your TBR pile! These books come from all sorts of different genres and age ranges. This week, I’m discussing my favorite read of February, a must-read memoir called Hijab Butch Blues.
Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H
Lamya and her family move to a country where her dad can get a better paying job. There, she attends a Muslim international school where she struggles to make friends and connect with the other girls. And when she’s fourteen, she realizes she is gay. At first, she tries to ignore it, but her feelings won’t just disappear.
When Lamya moves to the U.S. for college, she begins to make a life for herself outside of her family’s traditions and the societal limitation of the Middle Eastern country where she grew up. But she still feels connected to her faith. As she starts living as a hijab-wearing queer person in her new life in New York City, she begins to realize that a lot of the members of the queer community struggle to understand why she still wears her hijab.
Hijab Butch Blues is structured around stories from the Quran. With each new section, Lamya connects her story back to her faith and the familiar stories of the prophets she grew up reading about as a girl. Lamya beautifully weaves together her identity as a queer person and her identity as a Muslim. She can’t have one without the other.
Lamya’s story is so intimate as she lets us into her world. She describes her experience working through her identity, finding her way as a queer person. Lamya’s story pushes back against the idea of the singular queer narrative, that there is only one way to be queer. Lamya celebrates her life, her identity, in all of its many facets and complexities.
Ashraf Shirazi performs the audiobook edition, and her narration creates such emotional intimacy between Lamya’s story and her listeners. If you’re an audiobook fan, this is definitely one to pick up in audio.
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That’s it for this week! You can find me over on my substack Winchester Ave, over on Instagram @kdwinchester, or on my podcast Read Appalachia. As always, feel free to drop me a line at email@example.com. For even MORE bookish content, you can find my articles over on Book Riot.
Happy reading, Friends!