cover image From Here

From Here

Luma Mufleh. Penguin/Paulsen, $18.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-593-35445-2

This affecting memoir by refugee advocate Mufleh (Learning America) chronicles her internal struggle to reconcile her identity as a gay Arab Muslim woman. Via clear-eyed prose, the author tells of her first crush on a girl, in fifth grade, and how she assumed that “if people knew, they would hate me.” In subsequent years, Mufleh experienced feelings of shame surrounding her sexuality and details, in matter-of-fact-feeling lines, her suicidal ideation and attempts to kill herself. She eventually leaves for Smith College, where she believes she will have more freedom to explore her sexual orientation. But when her coming-out prompts her father to use his political connections to bring her back to Jordan, she seeks asylum in the U.S. Mufleh is both loving and critical in her portrayal of her family and culture. Separated into two parts—one that outlines Mufleh’s privileged childhood in Amman, Jordan, and one that recounts her collegiate years in America—this poignant reflection on choice, family, and living one’s truth provides insight into Mufleh’s relationship with her heritage, and how these experiences helped shape her identity and advocacy work. Ages 12–up. (May)