The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey To Love And Islam (2010)
The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam (2010)
Rating
4.03 of 5 Votes: 2
ISBN
0802118879 (ISBN13: 9780802118875)
languge
English
publisher
Atlantic Monthly Press
Rate book
I was attracted to this book after reading some of G. Willow Wilson's impressive run on Marvel Comics' Ms. Marvel. To her credit, Wilson is a fantastic writer, which is the primary reason I actually got through this book. There was always a clever sentence of wisdom or interesting juxtaposition in her memoir. Unfortunately, this story loses its strength due to the lack of conflict Wilson makes the reader anticipate, and the story is never anything more than the musings of an interesting pen-pal. There is a lot of foreshadowing about Wilson's American friends and family that we are primed to think will be mortified or angry about her decision to convert. When her parents arrive we find they are some of the most tolerant people on the planet. Her friends don't seem to be shocked, and one actually knew her conversion was coming. Her would-be husband's family is also supercool with him taking an American wife. She takes a trip to Iran, and writes about one guard who debatably gave her a hard time, before finally allowing her to visit a sacred site... and then smirks about it. Basically I felt that was the whole book. We read about Wilson preparing for massive cultural shocks and then we find some of the nicest people on the planet. The journalist in Wilson was always trying to expose a huge rift or clash between cultures, but the tensions were always eased by the tolerant circle with which she has surrounded herself. It's a discredit to the book she is attracted to "conflicts" that dissipate into nothing; and even perhaps a personal slight to her supportive circle who I presume deserve more credit than she gives them. At the end of the book her husband Omar says about Westerners, "The ones who feel guilty are the ones with the least reason to be. And the ones who should feel guilty never do." Ostensibly I felt like this book was written for the latter, and they probably won't bother reading it.There is good, if not great stuff here though. Her perceptions of Cairo, Iran and the other places she visits are astute. It's obvious Wilson immersed herself in the culture, and these are the best scenes of the book, when she is observing the other side of the planet instead of "looking for cross-cultural trouble." I personally would have been more intrigued had she focused less on her personal story, and more on modern life in Egypt and Islam. I tend not to read too many autobiographies, but this one was really good. To be honest, I think that I prefer Wilson's writing in this book to her writing in Alif the Unseen.Usually I comment on the way a book flows, how I feel about the writing style and the characters. With this book though, its strength lies in how it makes you think about situations, differences and ideas. It gives a very different perspective to those that I have seen before on the Middle East and Islam. This is the kind of book that anyone should read before making sweeping, generalising statements about the region or the religion. It is the kind of book that should be used to balance stories about the Taliban or terrorism.I would definitely recommend this to just about anyone.
Reviews
RickyBobby
Well written memoir of a spiritual journey. Really enlightening view of Islam and women in Egypt.
erikfarkas1
Really, really enjoyed this woman's story and writing. Hope she writes a follow-up.
agadoo1
Very accurate portrayal of Egypt and of a young girls journey into Islam
lili
This book was brutally honest, personal, and real.
hosam
Fantastic! Detailed review will come next.
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