Cover Image: Hijab Butch Blues

Hijab Butch Blues

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Member Reviews

A memoir, and so much more. An examination of race, caste, religion, white supremacy, gender, sexuality, and simply belonging. Their examination of gender is particularly stunning, in the way they relate it to their Muslim religion, and their experiences in Arabic countries and the United States, as well as their home country. 

The chapter that discusses “queer indispensability” is life-changing. Everyone queer should read it, but moreso everyone who wants to understand their fellow humans should read it.
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*I received a copy of this book as an ARC for review

This is an incredible book. The writing was beautiful, the author's story was heart wrenching and heartwarming at the same time, and it was a fantastic journey. Lamya did an incredible job of weaving her relationship with religion with her exploration of her sexuality. I would and will be recommending with book to everyone.
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Lamya is a queer, Muslim woman that shares her life story through this memoir. The memoir includes sections of the Quran and how Lamya interprets these sections as a queer, Muslim woman. The interweaving of bits of the Quran related to Lamya’s life is very interesting and impressive. This book is all about finding out who you are. 

Lamya chooses to write this book in a series of essays. However, the essays are not in chronological order, which can be confusing at times. Overall, I really enjoyed the story. I enjoyed reading about Lamya navigating her religion as a queer person as well as Lamya moving to a new country and facing racism in several different ways. I also enjoyed Lamya finally coming to terms with herself and beginning a relationship with another woman. I highly recommend to anyone wanting to know more about the Muslim culture and the Quran as well as anyone that is queer or questioning. Overall I give it 3.5/5 stars, rounded up to 4 stars. It would be a solid 4.5 for me if the essays were in chronological order.
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This book is very very good. Lamya H is so smart and thoughtful and the form really helps the reader connect with the stories from the Quran as well as the stories from Lamya's life. Intersectional. Clean and crisp writing with strong POV. Everything you would hope from a memoir.
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A balm to the queer soul. Thank you to the publishers at the Dial Press for a chance to read the eARC copy! 

Hijab Butch Blues is poetic, vulnerable, and deeply empathetic in the way Lamya H recalls all her musings of Islam, gender, and more. 

It offers a different view on the “Coming out” narrative, namely in that the author is still able to build a gorgeous queer Muslim community while still not necessarily being “Out” to her family and other folks in her community. It’s unapologetic in a way that only queer people of color can write, and I’m so privileged to get a chance to read the eARC copy of this book. It’s not often I get to read books by non-binary folks of color, and Lamya H’s insights will stay with me for a long time - even as a non-Muslim reader. 

Hijab Butch Blues weaves stories of the Qu’ran into various themes from the author’s life to remind us that queerness in all its forms is actually a God-given gift. I can’t wait to hear what more people think and how this resonates with folks currently in their own journeys with love and a commitment to a radically better world.
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i have never felt so seen and called out by a memoir, which probably (definitely) influenced my rating here.

lamya perfectly captured the isolation that the queer experience comes with. they also perfectly encompassed my teenage experience, from the passive suicidalness (not wanting to die in a way that gives people something to grieve, but just wanting to disappear) to the lack of vulnerability (not willing to accept help but inserting myself into everyone else’s lives to the point where they need me, for fear of people leaving me if i ask or want or need things).

very much looking forward to buying this book when it comes out.
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oook i was taking some time to put together my thoughts on this one because WOW!!!

this is such a brilliant memoir filled with so much emotion & growth. i was absolutely fascinated by the way lamya draws connections between pivotal moments in their life & different surahs of the quran. it’s rare to see an intersection of religion & gender/sexuality explored in this way, especially with islam, but this was absolutely masterful. i really really enjoyed hearing about different parables, but especially appreciated moments when lamya talked about her queer muslim friends’ discussions — there was so much critical thought & analysis to unpack, i was obsessed.

my critiques: because the vignettes are organized by theme instead of chronologically, it can be hard to pinpoint where you’re at sometimes or things felt a bit disjointed. i held a lot of love for young lamya, but passages about their adulthood were written with much more complexity & depth.

overall i just found this to be such a unique, intelligent, & critical memoir. i enjoyed it so so much & i think everyone would benefit from reading it!!!!
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4.5/5 rounded up

 I loved how this book was set up in essays to compare Lamya’s life to her interpretations of the Quran. There’s a part in the chapter about Musa where Lamya compares her queerness to being like a miracle, but that miracle will contain hardship. I also loved the chapter about Yunus, but I’m not gonna talk about that one much bc it might have spoilers. My only complaint is that this is not told in chronological order, so it’s hard to imagine the timeline in this. I wish the author could’ve been more clear about that. Overall I enjoyed this book and I would highly recommend everyone to preorder this
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A beautifully written memoir in essays that includes stories from the Quran.  How does a young queer Muslim woman transit a world which is already difficult enough because of her faith and her skin color?  Cautiously but thoughtfully. I learned a great deal from this memoir and have much admiration for Lamya H for having written it.  Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC.  Excellent.
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Words can't describe how beautiful and enlightening this book is. The intersection of LGBTQIA+ and practicing Muslim was a deeply insightful,  profound,  beautifully spiritual read.  This book is everything I had hoped We Have Always Been Here by Samra Habib would be.  I did deduct a star because the essays not being in chronological order of Lamya's life could be a tad disjointed at times, but it doesn't take away from the overall beauty and enjoyment of this book.  

 ***Thank you to Netgalley and Random House Publishing for an eARC of this book in exchange for my honest review. ***
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Hijab Butch Blues is a striking memoir written by Lamya H that takes her experiences growing up in the Middle East, along with her early adulthood in the United States, and interweaves them with some of the most recognizable stories from the Quran. Lamya leads us through the way her identity developed throughout her life, and makes us privy to her noteworthy negotiation between the queer communities she built for herself, and the familial and Muslim communities she valued and wanted in her life—even when she knew she would have to keep her queerness hidden to maintain some of these relationships. Her tone is witty and poignant, and the way she frames and reframes her experiences speaks to a creativity and a devoted approach to life that not many have. 

The memoir is well-structured; it’s told chronologically with a retrospective point of view, which allows us to look back on Lamya’s memories of her childhood and teenage years with the wisdom she has gained in her adulthood. Lamya does a great job of taking us along with her in these stories about her life, as well as relating the stories from the Quran in an accessible way for non-Muslim readers. 

I commend anyone who writes a memoir. It’s a vulnerable effort in which you become an archivist to your own life. You immortalize your experiences and knowledge for those who are interested in reading them. But, to an extent, you also fictionalize it. It’s impossible for anyone to remember verbatim how a certain conversation went, or the exact chain of events that led to a realization. One has to fill in the gaps a little. And in this filling, one may end up watering down the interaction being depicted to an airy summary, and its characters to stand-ins. Unfortunately, this is a pitfall that befalls many memoir writers, and that Lamya, at times, fell victim to.

While a memoir is mostly a dissection of the self, it’s important to provide a complex representation of the people around you in order to sound realistic. Too often, the reader would have to sit through a scene of an argument where Lamya’s counterpart spoke robotically, without any sort of allusion to interiority whatsoever. All the characters spoke in the same register and with the same vocabulary she did, which ended up sounding like the entire book was just the author talking to herself instead of engaging with other people. This made it difficult to take some of the confrontations or discussions seriously because they all sounded so much like Plato’s dialogues. And if it’s annoying when Plato creates a stand-in dummy who conveniently is really bad at defending their point and is always clearly in the wrong—now imagine how irritating it is in a memoir.

Because none of the other characters have a voice, as a reader, you have to grasp their personality through their actions. But since this is Lamya’s memoir, all of their actions revolve around her, so they don’t work as a great window. This meant that a lot of her relationships were difficult to communicate to the reader. She tells us that they’re great friends, that they’re a found family, but all the reader sees is the ways in which the friends aid Lamya’s self-development, making them seem much more like surprisingly well-versed therapists—because everyone in the memoir speaks in the same stiff register at all times—instead of actual people who are in a reciprocal friendship.

I don’t think there is one right way to write a memoir, but a memoir should be more than just a window into the author’s internal monologue. In my opinion, a successful memoir is often a snapshot of a time, place, and people—and the people are just as important as all the other elements. A memoir that only deals with the author’s reflections may as well just be an essay, and Hijab Butch Blues reads much more like a journal entry than it does a memoir. I’m sure it was a very cathartic experience to the author, but it does not make for a very fulfilling experience to the reader.
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In Hijab Butch Blues, Lamya M shares the way she finds her story in the stories of the Quran, queering them in a way that connects to her own identity and life experience. Although I do not share a connection with religious background, I found the structure of this memoir compelling and approachable to read, giving me insight to a queer life experience I see almost no representation of in other lit or media. Lamya’s honesty about navigating self-perception and desire was refreshing—getting over the crushes on straight girls that would mean immediate rejection and no real impact on her life, to opening up about the self acceptance that came with a healing, real queer love.
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NetGalley ARC Educator 550974

As a theologian who believes that grace and love is for all, I greatly enjoyed this book. It is the story of a a nonbinary Muslim individual journeying from Arab countries to the US. It is hard for LGBT Christians to be accepted in any country, imagine the struggle for Muslims. This book should be added to all religious and human experience college courses.
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This slim, compulsively readable memoir from pseudonymous writer @lamyaisangry thoroughly upends a number of tropes. Lamya is a queer, nonbinary South Asian Muslim who grew up in an Arab country and later immigrated to the US. The memoir, which skips around their life, is structured as a series of essays, each centered around a figure from the Quran. Lamya skillfully reinterprets religious stories to provide interventions about both Islam and queerness. Maryam’s story becomes about wanting to live, Muhammad’s about coming out, Yusuf’s about learning to accept love.

Familiar narratives about “in-betweenness” are reconfigured to become new, not only in context but in literary form. I appreciate especially how this is a book all about queerness, but not much about coming out. Lamya isn’t out to her family and doesn’t want to be, preferring to give and accept their love without that part of their truth. Sometimes narratives of queerness can be so white and Western, and Lamya deconstructs that beautifully.

I loved this as a queer religious South Asian, but you’ll probably enjoy it even more if you are familiar with the Quran or Abrahamic religious stories in general. I think it would pair well with Sabrina Imbler’s How Far the Light Reaches, which also has an innovative approach to queer memoir.
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This was one of the best memoirs I've read this year and bear in mind that as someone who prefers listening to nonfiction books in audiobook format I devoured around 90% of this book in an ebook format within a day. Hijab Butch Blues is a memoir told in a non-chronological order by a hijabi Muslim person who prefers using a pseudonym for safety purposes. When I received this arc from Netgalley I was both very excited and nervous—excited because as a Muslim myself I always feel like we rarely hear stories, fictional or nonfictional, about queer Muslim people and nervous because Islam and homosexuality are often used as the antithesis to each other in most discussions. 

However, in this memoir, the author shows us how their faith in Islam and queer identity are an inseparable part of who they are. They draw a lot of parallels between their life experiences and stories from the Quran in a way that I thought was interesting and provided some new perspectives into the stories I'm quite familiar with. The author also touches on the challenges of being an immigrant twice in their life, first in a rich Arab country and second in the USA, as a person of South Asian descent and the discrimination they face throughout their life as a Muslim hijabi person and a brown person. I could personally relate to some of their experiences as a Muslim and immigrant myself and thought the narrative around those experiences was quite impactful. But at the same time, this book thought me things about the Muslim experience in another part of the world I wasn't familiar with and how queerness can be experienced through that lens.

I think this memoir was very successful in discussing the nuances of being part of both queer and Muslim communities. The author talks about the struggles they encountered as a hijabi person among non-Muslim queer people who either had a hard time relating the author's experiences or downright invalidated them. At the same time, within the Muslim community, the existence of queerness within the community is either never talked about or deemed as a western influence or sometimes labelled as a "mental health issue". The author also argues that the coming out experience looks very different for Muslim queer people especially when their only tie to their culture is through their relationship with their family and can be lost if their family doesn't accept their queerness.

In terms of writing quality, I had no issue getting through this book quickly within a day or two. I think the writing has an easily flowing cadence to it while also delivering the author's message effectively. However, the non-chronological structure of the memoir threw me off in some places and also led to some repetition that I could've done without. But none of the flaws with writing could diminish the importance of this memoir for me at a personal level and I hope this book gets more buzz than it's done so far.
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What a resplendent, moving memoir. Lamya H. interweaves multiple intersections of identity and stories within their religion to discuss social issues. I enjoyed learning about Islam, especially Lamya's interpretations of characters in the Quran. Their examination of what is and is not told, and how other people's translations lead them to question their understanding, were compelling. It reminds me that religion's importance is leading people to reflect on how they should accept, respect, and pick their battles when it comes to the choices placed in front of them. I hope that other people savor this book as much as I did.
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For most of Lamya’s life she has been the listener, the people pleaser for everyone around her. Now as the reader it is our turn to listen. She opens the door to us. Lamya lets you understand her through stories from the Quran which foreshadows to a moment in her life that it reflects. She tells us about growing up religious, coming out to friends, being an immigrant in places you call home, how hard falling in love can be and many other pivotal moments. Lamya’s memoir is sincere and honest and I enjoyed my time experiencing a piece of her life. Thank you Lamya H, NetGalley, and Random House Publishing Group.
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I got an ARC of this book.

So I loved this book. The writing, the interweaving of Muslim stories, I was here for it. It really was a well written and enjoyable read. Not all of it was happy or fun to read, but I couldn’t stop reading. I loved so much about it.

The biggest draw for me was that H is still not out to her family. This makes this story feel more dangerous to read, it shouldn’t be out there. It felt like a secret that I was being told and that I was being trusted so deeply. I haven’t ever had that feeling reading a memoir before. There is a headiness to getting to know something so personal about someone you don’t know, something they haven’t even admitted to people they love. This book filled that voyeuristic need to know.

The interweaving of stories from the Quran was fascinating. Some of the stories I knew, but with different names. I have not read the Quran yet, so seeing some of the stories gave me a little look in. The story about the ark is one I grew up with, but with drastically different details. In Sunday school, I was never told why he did it, just that he did. Learning more about the story and seeing some overlaps with stories I grew up with was great. The way that H was able to apply them to her life and how she questioned everything was amazing. Seeing someone questioning the scripture and the lessons, but because they have faith and want to really see things is amazing to see. So often there is only the depiction of lost faith, faith because it is what you do, or blind faith.

I wish there was some more on gender in the book. H starts talking about gender, then veers off. It really seems like H uses avoidance as a coping mechanism for things she is not ready to address. She mentioned being called out for this when it came to her sexuality. I am not saying she should be a trans guy (that story was both funny and infuriating), but I wonder where she would end up if she explored that more. This is all to say, I love seeing H figure things out and how it fits into her world and the stories she grew up on. I just wanted a bit more.
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It's going to sound trite, but I'll write it anyway. There are some books you just don't want to finish because you do not want the story, the journey, to end. When I first started Hijab Butch Blues, I ravaged each page, turning voraciously because their storytelling was engaging, funny, delightful. I wanted to learn all I could about this person - who's story is like mine but not like mine. I explored further into the depths of each story, noting each touchstone of pain, faith, and hilarious faux pas, I set the book down more often. Relishing the savory bits of vulnerability and witnessing the re-claiming one's story.

Lamya rich storytelling and weaving of Muslim stories brought questions to my heart and mind about my own queerness, my own feelings and journey as a lesbian. Their writing - sharp, tight, painful, shocking, and honey laden - reminds me of bell hooks, Adrienne Rich, and even at times, Maya Angelou. 

We place so much emphasis on who we are by our faith, our identification, our sexuality, and our experiences. We are molded, forged, and cast into this world with barely a stable path to walk upon. Lamya's words ask us the questions of how we continually find our people / community / tribe; defining who we are by those important aspects of faith and love; and how we lean toward them or shutter ourselves off. All while taking us on a journey of uncovering who we are to find out who we were all along.
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A brilliantly-written, refreshing narrative that deserves to be celebrated and shared. This book challenged my own preconceived stereotypes and notions of religion while providing an intimate snapshot into Lamya's life and experiences. Lamya's writing style is engaging and I immediately did not want to put this book down.
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