*I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.*
Title: We Have Always Been Here
Author: Samra Habib
Publication Date: June 4, 2019
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Samra Habib has spent most of her life searching for the safety to be herself. As an Ahmadi Muslim growing up in Pakistan, she faced regular threats from Islamic extremists who believed the small, dynamic sect to be blasphemous. From her parents, she internalized the lesson that revealing her identity could put her in grave danger. When her family came to Canada as refugees, Samra encountered a whole new host of challenges: bullies, racism, the threat of poverty, and an arranged marriage. Backed into a corner, her need for a safe space–in which to grow and nurture her creative, feminist spirit–became dire. The men in her life wanted to police her, the women in her life had only shown her the example of pious obedience, and her body was a problem to be solved. So begins an exploration of faith, art, love, and queer sexuality, a journey that takes her to the far reaches of the globe to uncover a truth that was within her all along.
We Have Always Been Here is a moving and beautiful memoir of Samra Habib, a queer Muslim woman whose life has been met with a steady stream of challenges. Her writing follows her from childhood into adulthood as she comes to understand who she is a person in relation to her culture, her family, her religion, and everything she believes and knows about the world. Her story is a difficult one. She has not traveled an easy path. At her core, Samra is an artist and she is creating a platform to share the stories of those who’s voices have been suppressed or underrepresented. Through her writing and her photography, she connects with other queer and Muslim people around the world, creating a community and fostering a space where people can feel connected, loved, and safe.
I had the chance to see Samra speak in person at the Ottawa Writers Festival earlier this year and I found it to be an incredibly profound and moving experience. She spoke with grace and confidence. She truly conveyed her passion behind her work and it was so clearly apparent the impact that she’s having in the world. If you wish to read what I thought of the event, you can read my review here.
I hope you’ll all grab your own copy of We Have Always Been Here. Samra is incredibly inspirational and I’d read her memoir again in a heartbeat.