Cover Image: Hijab Butch Blues

Hijab Butch Blues

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Net Galey and Random House for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.  This memoir takes you on the journey with the author as she navigates her queerness and religion (Islam) and what it means to be a queer Muslim woman.  Accepting herself for who she is but also finding her way with dating, presenting to the family, friends and the world.  I appreciated the author's openness and sharing her thoughts and progression through her experience. Having a glimpse into another person's experience is priceless.
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An astonishingly powerful book about the intersections of queerness, religion, and societal expectations. I'm usually not one for memoirs, but Lamya's story swept me along and I couldn't put it down.

Thank you so much to Random House and NetGalley for the free e-ARC in exchange for an honest review.
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Lamyah, like her memoir, is impossible to box in or even summarize. Their story is one of courage and curiosity, and learning to architect their own life path and identity - despite constantly feeling otherized by a world obsessed with definitions and categories. They set the example of learning to accept and express all aspects of who you are - your religion, sexuality, gender, race - all co-existing without reservation or conditions. This is also a story of exhaustion, loneliness, resignation, and the desire to disappear from a world that places the entire burden of embracing these complexities on the individual. 

I love how they did not just automatically reject their religion, instead found their own interpretaton and way to connect with their religion without obfuscating their own identity and values.

The memoir is organized into three parts: 
• Lamya’s productive yet lonely childhood, immersed in Islamic studies and early questions about gender, race, and sexuality. Lamya is striving to find her own personal, radical, and individual connection to stories in Islam. There’s a lingering sense of disconnection and feeling ignored and invisible to their rich Arab friends, and sometimes even family
• Lamya’s journey to the U.S. while giving her the space to explore her own path and identity, was rife with feeling both hypervisible and invisible with their “brown hijabi Muslim body” 
• Lamya’s coming out experience and learning to love and be loved without compromising their authentic self and values; their awakening to the negative effects of internalized white supremacy and homophobia. They learn to be selective on how they interact with people, what they accept, when to fight and when to quit. 

Challenging and poignant, this provocative yet unpretentious memoir evokes the deep loneliness felt when ones own uniqueness and complexities don’t feature in mainstream narratives or stories. Such was the journey of young Lamya H (pseudonym used by the author), who moved away from a South Asian country to an Arab country, and later in life, to the U.S.  Even their assimilation to the American culture is challenging - they face homophobia from Muslims and Islamophobia from queer friends at social gatherings. 

The theme of how it feels to be a “brown” immigrant in the U.S resonated with me on a personal level. Despite attending a “prestigious college” on scholarship, Lamya H recounts how they have to go everywhere with copies of their papers, frequently “selected” for random spot checks on campus and elsewhere when none of her peers were. They were told: “You’re being asked for your ID because you’re Muslim. We’re fighting a war against Muslims right now, so they’re all scary”

Not to mention the numerous bureaucracies and barriers to getting a visa despite her qualifications; They describe their anxiety of getting their visa extended being much more than finding a job. Lamya H describes the experience “specifically designed to be terrifying - I’m hyperaware of myself and my body, hyperaware that I need to choose my outfit so I come across as not just competent and organized, but also well adjusted, physically, healthy, mentally sound”.  The author is so perceptive - it kind of shook me at how much I had glossed over and simply accepted in my own student immigration journey to the U.S. 

I also began reading outside the book to better understand perspectives of women who choose to wear the Hijab, and the distinctions among the various forms in which Muslim women cover themselves: the burka covers the entirety of the face, the niqab covers most of the face but leaves slits for the yes, and the hijab only covers the hair. 

For many this is a personal choice (though separately acknowledging that sadly there are many who are forced to wear the hijab). In this memoir, Lamya H describes her choice to wear a Hijab as part of her identity, her sense of self and feeling that choice being used against her and questioned with fear and prejudice. For many Muslim women, I learned, the hijab affords recognition for “who they are, not what they look like”. Media over the years has objectified and sexualized women’s bodies - video games, super heroine movies or comics, pretty much any movie with a strong lead woman. Instead of being an oppressive tool, the hijab can be a choice to assert their own will over what others get to see. “Modesty has a beauty of its own” (quotes from article by Hanadi Jordan, in the California Aggie)

Growing up in a secular, South Asian environment - we celebrated several religious holidays with equal vigor but this memoir challenged my notions of how religious faith can coexist (and even thrive) with seemingly surface-level differences in our sense of identity: gender, sexuality, norms, social hierarchies and at its core our sense of belonging. I was drawn to this memoir  to learn, engage and explore these layers and reading this memoir was as intimate as conversing with a close friend. 

Highly recommend reading this beautifully written memoir
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I loved this!!! So informational and interesting. I loved Lamya’s interpretation of the Quran. The queer interpretation was really important and her critique and commentary are so relevant
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This was just excellent.  I appreciate the full story from their childhood to moving to tnhe US and the diffrent ways of finding community and themselves and the challenges.  Highly recommend
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This is a beautiful memoir with a wonderful interweaving of stories from the Quran. The author's incorporation of her translations of scripture within her own life and experience gave the book a unique feel that was very satisfying to read. The author's story is certainly compelling enough in itself, but the addition of the stories, familiar to anyone familiar with Abrahamic religions, gives the reader special insight into the author's inner world. This was truly a joy to read.
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I went into this memoir with no expectations, but came out really enjoying it. I really enjoyed learning more about Islam, and the stories that come from the Quran. I also really enjoyed how she was able to tie her experience to her religion, and the stories that came from that I didn’t expect to relate to parts of the story so much. I know the author doesn’t have the ability to come out to her parents, which is a similar situation I’m in, so I was very happy to see a memoir that highlights a lot of the experiences BIPOC LGBTQ people face on a daily basis. 

Overall, this book was really enjoyable and I’m glad I read it.
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Moving, thought-provoking, quiet, kind. A real balm for a lesbian dealing with some religious trauma. More books like this about the butch experience please.
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Alienated from country and kin, Lamya turns to her faith for guidance in Hijab Butch Blues. Searching for her identity, she knows she is attracted to women, wonders if God is they, has a crush on her school teacher, and finds inspiration from the Koran stories of Mary, Noah, Abraham, and Moses.

In Mary, she wonders if she were not touched by a man would that indicate she is a lesbian? In Noah, she must find faith in herself when no one else believes. In Abraham, confusion as to her purpose. In Moses, a miracle for herself. 

A beautiful memoir that weaves faith into her journey to found family and her true self.
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A compelling memoir with stories from the Quran woven beautifully in. Sometimes painful, sometimes joyful, I loved getting to experience Lamya’s coming of age, growing into herself, and forming communities.
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This book portrays someone who struggles to make sense of their queer identity in the face of religion. The character reevaluates what religion means to them by reexamining religious text from their unique point of view. While I am not Muslim, I have seen some people critiquing the character equating Allah to nonbinary. I think that it is important to read this book not as a guide to this religion, but as someone's interpretation of religion and how they can connect religion to their queer identity. 

I would recommend this book because it is not only unique but fascinating to read.
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This is an absolutely stunning memoir, and one that I kind of want everyone to read. The writing is absolutely fantastic, my eyes were glued to my Kindle the whole way through. It was so interesting, thought-provoking, and insightful the way the author discussed the relation between her queerness and her religion, connecting her own experiences to stories from the Quran.
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Hijab Butch Blues is an incredibly moving, beautifully written memoir and coming of age story. Each chapter of the book weaves stories from the Quran with the story of Lamya's life, drawing connections between the messages of the Quran and her lived experience as a queer, brown, Muslim, immigrant. I found the chapter with the story of Muhammed, which is told in second person, particularly moving. She is talking to Muhammed - telling him his story and asking him questions about his thoughts and feelings - and interweaving it with the the story of her finally, finally, finally finding her people, her queer Muslim community.

The memoir is very introspective and raw. She really lays herself bare, something her anonymity gives her the safety to do. She takes her life story and presents it in a way that really highlights the uniqueness of her life experiences while also distilling them down to thoughts and feelings that are extremely relatable and common.
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What a thoughtful, reflective memoir. I loved reading about Lamya's life and coming of age. I learned a lot about her faith and the Quran, which I honestly knew very little about going in to this book. Beautifully written and full of heart!
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WOW!!! I have no words for how incredible Hijab Butch Blues is. The parallels between Lamya's life and stories in the Quran were stunning and informative. Reading about an often overlooked queer experience is something we all should be doing! 5/5 book
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This book… is maybe the most seen I’ve felt in literature in a long time. Which feels odd since I am a queer white woman in a high demand Christian religion and this book is about a queer hijabi Muslim woman. but this book feels so relatable. 

The description of depression in this book is maybe the first time I have seen how I feel written down so concisely on a page. It took so long for me to identify that what I was feeling was depression because I wasn’t experiencing it how others were. This book really nails exactly how I have felt when my depression gets bad.

The struggle to take a fairly conservative religious and familial culture and to learn and to make your religion your own feels very relatable too. Taking all those things you took as truth and reevaluating them, reading between the lines of scriptural stories. It is such a hard process and yet it opens up a world of difference, love, and progress. This book made me want to reread the Quran and the Bible to find radical love and queer acceptance there. 

This book deals with really hard topics, and does so in such a beautiful way. The way it weaves in scriptural narratives and how they relate to her life makes this book read sometimes like a scripture study with the author, and what a great study partner to have.
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I enjoyed this book. Lamya is a good writer, and the book flows very well. Lamya is a lesbian who discovers her sexuality in school and struggles with her identity as a Muslim and lesbian. Her country of origin is never mentioned, and neither is the country she moved to as a young child, which informs much about how she sees the world. There is a lot to unpack in this book- race, sexuality, colorism, xenophobia but Lamya is such an engaging writer you want to read more.
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This book was a healing experience for me.  After coming out as queer several years ago and separating from conservative Christianity I am just now getting back to exploring new avenues for exploring Christianity in a way that makes sense for me so I loved seeing the authors takes on stories from the Quran and how she understands them in a way that fits with her identity.
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This was very eye-opening and I learned so much. I truly hope this gets a lot of attention. It is a story that deserves to be shared and heard.
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"This is the world fourteen-year-old me couldn’t even begin to imagine. I’m already here."

I've chosen the very last words of this fascinating memoir because they aren't the ending I thought I'd be reading but a realization that what she hoped for as a child could really happen.

As a retiree from ordained ministry I am fascinated by interpretation of the stories of *my* Bible interpreted by other faith traditions. And Islam is not the first religion to do this. However, as a queer feminist I applaud the author's guts for not accepting it part and parcel. This is what we need: new and different lived experiences that allow the stories to become part of us TODAY.

This memoir is as brave as Leslie Fienburg's "Stone Butch Blues" and could be as life changing as that was for my generation. I will be on the lookout for more of this author's work and thank NetGalley for the opportunity to read It. Highly Recommended 5/5
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