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Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir

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Kidnapped by his father on the eve of Somalia's societal implosion, Mohamed Ali was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then later on to Canada. Unmoored from his birth family and caught between twin alienating forces of Somali tradition and Western culture, Mohamed must forge his own queer coming of age. What follows in this fierce and unrelenting accoun Kidnapped by his father on the eve of Somalia's societal implosion, Mohamed Ali was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then later on to Canada. Unmoored from his birth family and caught between twin alienating forces of Somali tradition and Western culture, Mohamed must forge his own queer coming of age. What follows in this fierce and unrelenting account is a story of one young man's nascent sexuality fused with the violence wrought by displacement.


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Kidnapped by his father on the eve of Somalia's societal implosion, Mohamed Ali was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then later on to Canada. Unmoored from his birth family and caught between twin alienating forces of Somali tradition and Western culture, Mohamed must forge his own queer coming of age. What follows in this fierce and unrelenting accoun Kidnapped by his father on the eve of Somalia's societal implosion, Mohamed Ali was taken first to the Netherlands by his stepmother, and then later on to Canada. Unmoored from his birth family and caught between twin alienating forces of Somali tradition and Western culture, Mohamed must forge his own queer coming of age. What follows in this fierce and unrelenting account is a story of one young man's nascent sexuality fused with the violence wrought by displacement.

30 review for Angry Queer Somali Boy: A Complicated Memoir

  1. 5 out of 5

    chantel nouseforaname

    Wow, this book was pretty heavy. I’m shook. The immigration story alone hit me so deeply. The fact that one can be sent to live with family members for a “better life” and be stripped away from love. And love is different from relatives to birth parents, it is. Then to be abused — I just have so many conflicting emotions and have heard variations of this story in my own life. I loved being taken through Toronto through the eyes of Mohamed. Working in the industry of social services I’ve met a fe Wow, this book was pretty heavy. I’m shook. The immigration story alone hit me so deeply. The fact that one can be sent to live with family members for a “better life” and be stripped away from love. And love is different from relatives to birth parents, it is. Then to be abused — I just have so many conflicting emotions and have heard variations of this story in my own life. I loved being taken through Toronto through the eyes of Mohamed. Working in the industry of social services I’ve met a few Mohameds in my life — young men who have been through the ringer who are trying to find themselves. It’s always a journey. Sometimes, you get jaded because it becomes that everyone has pain and trouble, but he humanizes the situations many are experiencing on levels. He brings us back to reality, people’s lives, the trauma we face as individuals and that nothing can ever be lumped together. Even in the sidelines of marginalization, we are all unique individuals, with unique stories and none of it can ever be discounted. His book is a lesson in honouring the story of a survivor. I honestly applaud him for sharing these hardcore experiences with us, the reader. Shit was so heavy. I really like that he’s a total Toronto mans in his delivery of the content. His writing style was highly relatable to the Toronto lifestyle and experience. Some of the coming out story and the self harm was so hard, just the coupling of despair and violence — dark, heavy. But we need these stories. I need these stories. They help me to understand so many things about the lives of others and my own personal challenges. We need the full breath of stories by BIPOC Canadians. I was waiting to read this since I heard about it back in early summer 2019, I’m glad that I got my hands on a copy. I hope he’s writing more.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Richard Summerbell

    'Angry Queer Somali Boy' is a quintessentially gay story about a young queer boy who was brought to Canada as a refugee, and who then had to become a next-level refugee from his multifariously abusive family when he grew up. It was Mohamed Ali's dubious luck to be on the inside track of some of history's more interesting recent turns: he was yanked from his mother at the age of 4 as his native Somalia headed towards military catastrophe, and grew up first as an expat in Dubai, toen als asielzoek 'Angry Queer Somali Boy' is a quintessentially gay story about a young queer boy who was brought to Canada as a refugee, and who then had to become a next-level refugee from his multifariously abusive family when he grew up. It was Mohamed Ali's dubious luck to be on the inside track of some of history's more interesting recent turns: he was yanked from his mother at the age of 4 as his native Somalia headed towards military catastrophe, and grew up first as an expat in Dubai, toen als asielzoeker in Nederland (then as an asylum seeker in the Netherlands), and finally as a completely Torontonianized young adult in Canada. His adolescence was spent in the brutish care of a stepmother right out of a Somali Cinderella story, and his being gay and wonderfully, kinkily anomalous was the last broomstraw in their mutual incompatibility. Even then, to extend the Cinderella comparison, the 'ice queen' (his own self-description) glass slippers that magically fit him as a cool queer dude tended to break and cut his feet, and like many gay men who've been shattered out of their former cultural backgrounds, he turned to alcohol and risky adventures in his search for comfort and fascination. But lest this description make the book seem like a sob story, Ali has that killer 'ice queen' wit. It gives him a beautifully frank take on the world that refreshes everything it touches, whether it's tortured family relations, sex with men who want to ingest his excretions, or elevated literature written by the greats of the African diaspora. For example, in describing two white high school chums who tried to assimilate into hip hop culture, he says, "It was not the clothes that made the authority figures uncomfortable (about black Torontonians in saggy rap gear). It was the level of melanin in their skin. Since (the white friends) lacked the key ingredient, they excelled at being black in different ways. They wrote lame rhymes and battled anyone on the sidewalk in front of the school. It was sad but they had the time of their lives. Playing dress-up with black culture was a prerequisite for white male adulthood." Yo, bruh, I've met those people, too - wallahi. (Toronto highschool slang is Compton meets Kingston meets Aleppo). Now imagine Ali's terse but intellectual regal tongue being applied, in this short book, to nearly every topic of importance in the Western and Middle Eastern world, including East Africa, and you'll get a sense of the pleasure of reading this piece of writing. Ali is a very perceptive author. Troubles have made him skeptical of many people, but he reciprocates the affection of supportive people glowingly, and all is by no means lost for those readers who, like me, start rooting for his eventual well-being. As with so many gay men, he finds joyous friendship with heterosexual women, in this case mostly black, who intuitively get his fine qualities. Maybe someday there'll be a man who fully gets them, too. Yeah. I only hope his next piece of autobiography will contain the happy ending, that is, the happy ongoing story, that this book barely tantalizes us with at the end.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Shathana K

    The story of Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali's childhood and adolescence was fascinating, as he escaped the Somalian Civil War, and grew up in both the Netherlands and Canada. Although he has experienced various hardships as an LGBTQ+ individual grappling between his adopted countries and his Somali background, he retells them in a way that is captivating. I particularly enjoyed his great insight on how societies in his respective countries operate, where he bluntly focused on immigrants and how they are The story of Mohamed Abdulkarim Ali's childhood and adolescence was fascinating, as he escaped the Somalian Civil War, and grew up in both the Netherlands and Canada. Although he has experienced various hardships as an LGBTQ+ individual grappling between his adopted countries and his Somali background, he retells them in a way that is captivating. I particularly enjoyed his great insight on how societies in his respective countries operate, where he bluntly focused on immigrants and how they are treated. As a WOC who grew up in Toronto, he really delves into the aspect of how Canada portrays itself as a just and fair society, despite the reality of Toronto's marginalized neighbourhoods being the opposite of what is being preached. Although the book is relatively short and fast paced, and contained various insightful things, I found that the author tended to ramble onto different topics that were interesting, but didn't feel tied into the rest of the book. Nevertheless, this book unapologetically captures aspects of immigrant life and navigating your intersecting identities.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Azzy

    This was a really challenging read for me. Close to home, on a lot of fronts. Ali creates space for himself, despite multiple figures throughout his life + social structures shaping our worlds reiterating that his voice was not relevant / does not matter. There is also a deep commitment to truth-telling on Ali's part, and given Somali socialization/habit of continually sweeping things 'under the rug', I greatly admire him for this. We must name the ugly + violent + traumatic moments or events fo This was a really challenging read for me. Close to home, on a lot of fronts. Ali creates space for himself, despite multiple figures throughout his life + social structures shaping our worlds reiterating that his voice was not relevant / does not matter. There is also a deep commitment to truth-telling on Ali's part, and given Somali socialization/habit of continually sweeping things 'under the rug', I greatly admire him for this. We must name the ugly + violent + traumatic moments or events for exactly what they are. The spiritual + mental health/well-being of our community is dependent on this. What I couldn't shake while reading this memoir were questions around the audience. Who is Ali writing for? What does it mean/signify that the University of Regina Press published this book? Who will read this work? Soomaalinimo is already vilified in a Canadian context; what does it mean to speak to an experience of Soomaalinimo largely devoid of joy? What does it mean when Ali dips into Islamophobic discourse & maybe even a touch of Western exceptionalism in certain passages? Is it fair that Ali has to even reckon with these questions when recounting the intimate moments of his life? How/when/why do gay Black men take up space in the world of LGBTQIA+ narrative building? What stories are championed in the white Canadian context + which get left behind? While I maintain that Ali's truths should be honoured, something about his approach made me feel uneasy. Perhaps another re-read will be necessary on my part.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Layne

    Memoirs are hard to rate and review. Who am I to rate the experiences of someone’s life? I just finished reading this book in (almost) one sitting and I have a lot of feelings about it. First of all, I can not overstate the appreciativeness I have for those who choose to be as vulnerable as Mo has been. It takes a lot out of you to unleash your story and let the world see the vulnerable parts of you. I am thankful for his choice to let us in. Now about the book. I love the complexity of it all, I Memoirs are hard to rate and review. Who am I to rate the experiences of someone’s life? I just finished reading this book in (almost) one sitting and I have a lot of feelings about it. First of all, I can not overstate the appreciativeness I have for those who choose to be as vulnerable as Mo has been. It takes a lot out of you to unleash your story and let the world see the vulnerable parts of you. I am thankful for his choice to let us in. Now about the book. I love the complexity of it all, I love the disjointedness, the flow of consciousness. I love that it’s proactive and thoughtful. I love all these things, but they all make it difficult for me as well. There were so many times a remark caught me off guard or made me want to know more. Obviously it is the choice of the author on whether they want to expand. But like any book, some parts had strengths and were powerful, and some left me confused as to why they were there in the first place. The commentaries on culture and race as experiences by immigrants in Canada and The Netherlands were amazing (amongst other issues chosen to comment on), but sometimes attempts at commentary on other issues fell flat. I’m still thinking over how I feel about this. Would I recommend it? I don’t think it’s a book you recommend. It’s something you chose to experience. A difficult read, but a worthwhile one.

  6. 4 out of 5

    A

    This memoir, a departure from accepted or colonized stories of immigration, is both unapologetic and necessarily plainly stated.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Carmen Lishman

    This was difficult to read. The author had a difficult and chaotic upbringing and probably needed an outlet for all the (justified) anger. It gave me a perspective of Toronto and its suburbs that is totally foreign to my own experience with these same places. A perspective I feel grateful for - that I needed to hear.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Carla

    Interesting read, about a young boy from Somalia who is taken to the Netherlands, and then Canada escaping violence and war in his birth country. Not only does he have to adapt to live in another country, but growing up gay in an traditional Somali cultural family, in a Western country has to be "complicated" indeed! The writing is honest, and heartfelt, and sometimes humorous. He resides with an strict and abusive family filled with racism and hate. He's determined to find joy in his life. I ho Interesting read, about a young boy from Somalia who is taken to the Netherlands, and then Canada escaping violence and war in his birth country. Not only does he have to adapt to live in another country, but growing up gay in an traditional Somali cultural family, in a Western country has to be "complicated" indeed! The writing is honest, and heartfelt, and sometimes humorous. He resides with an strict and abusive family filled with racism and hate. He's determined to find joy in his life. I hope we hear more from him.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Sam

    This is a hard one to review. I finished it a couple of days ago and I'm still thinking about it. It's a very heavy memoir. If you are going to read it, there a lot of trigger warnings. The description really says it all. This book is really unrelenting for its 191 pages. I would recommend it but be prepared for the darkness.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bree Taylor

    Thanks, Book Riot and your Read Harder challenge, for challenging me to read outside my normal genre. Tasked with finding a debut novel by a queer author, I stumbled upon this little gem at my local library. Novel, however, it is not. I am struggling with the review of this memoir. The writing was enough to keep me interested and reading past the very disturbing parts but I was desperately ready to stop reading such a depressing and sad book. And then, I remembered that THIS WAS A TRUE STORY. An Thanks, Book Riot and your Read Harder challenge, for challenging me to read outside my normal genre. Tasked with finding a debut novel by a queer author, I stumbled upon this little gem at my local library. Novel, however, it is not. I am struggling with the review of this memoir. The writing was enough to keep me interested and reading past the very disturbing parts but I was desperately ready to stop reading such a depressing and sad book. And then, I remembered that THIS WAS A TRUE STORY. And my empathy kicked back in and I couldn't believe that there were children all around the world who are experiencing such conditions. All in all, this is an EXTREMELY graphic memoir with both sex and violence that I probably could have gone my entire life without reading. But, I'm glad that it was able to open my eyes and my heart to the plight of the Somali refugee. Definitely something I could use more of.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Richard Borbridge

    Somewhere between a diary and a college essay, the oddly distant prose oddly juxtaposes casual recounting of a complicated life, against shocking incidents matter-of-factly stated. He remarks insightfully on context but glances over underlying traumas, misdirecting us (himself?) with provocative incidents that feel more like a distraction from critical reflection. This book will stay with me as a portrait of a radically different lived experience, but may be hard to recommend.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Kindred

    Ali has some fascinating stories to tell, but I'm not sure they're well told here. At times, his matter of fact recitation of events is quite effective, especially when his stories veer towards the violent and disturbing. However, overall his writing rambles and the book lacks a narrative structure. It's an interesting life, one that I appreciated learning about, but not necessarily a great memoir.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sasha Boersma

    ‪Was not expecting all the feels from this book. Raw, matter-of-fact memoir of the life of one Somali immigrant. It’s an exploration of Toronto from the prospective of someone at the fringes. And as a Dutch-Canadian, it gave me a lot to reflect on. Just....wow.

  14. 4 out of 5

    PhebeAnn

    Content warning: child abuse (physical), sexual assault, substance abuse/addiction, self-injury, suicide, female genital mutilation, racism, homophobia. This short memoir was a challenging but powerful read. In his choppy and blunt writing style, Ali tells his harrowing story of leaving Somalia as a refugee with his step-mother, passing through the United Arab Emirates before spending much of his childhood in the Netherlands, and then moving in his early teens to Canada in the late 90s, just in t Content warning: child abuse (physical), sexual assault, substance abuse/addiction, self-injury, suicide, female genital mutilation, racism, homophobia. This short memoir was a challenging but powerful read. In his choppy and blunt writing style, Ali tells his harrowing story of leaving Somalia as a refugee with his step-mother, passing through the United Arab Emirates before spending much of his childhood in the Netherlands, and then moving in his early teens to Canada in the late 90s, just in time to experience post 9-11 Islamophobic violence as a young black boy named Mohamed. Although his step-mother is ostensibly saving him from the violence of war in Somalia, he instead suffers her violence of daily severe physical and psychological abuse. He copes with this violence, as well as the suppression of his queerness, in various self-harming and anti-social ways, from getting into fights and starting fires, to self-injuring, to drug and alcohol abuse. These are the only means available to him. He is, at one point, identified as a sociopath, which calls into question the innateness of this designation; culturally, we think of it as a brain problem, but Ali's behaviour is so clearly linked to the intense trauma he is experiencing. The narrative is an indictment of both the Netherlands and Canada, dismantling the notion of them as these peaceful pastoral places that are safe havens for refugees. He reveals the violence of whiteness and white people, which he experiences even from white friends who use him or exotify him, keeping him as a friend only while it suits them. It comes from the erasure of colonialism from our histories. It comes from cops, teachers, social workers. These kind of stories that disrupt the narrative of Canada the good are so necessary if we have any hope of doing better.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    Not quite sure what to even say about this one. The life the author has led was truly horrifying and my heart went out to him while I was reading this book. I wonder what his life might have been if it had been populated with a family that showed him any amount of love. The writing, though, was a pile of hot, steaming garbage. I was reading this for a book club so started underlining all of the spots that were particularly bad. I gave up in the first quarter of the book - there were too many to Not quite sure what to even say about this one. The life the author has led was truly horrifying and my heart went out to him while I was reading this book. I wonder what his life might have been if it had been populated with a family that showed him any amount of love. The writing, though, was a pile of hot, steaming garbage. I was reading this for a book club so started underlining all of the spots that were particularly bad. I gave up in the first quarter of the book - there were too many to underline. Some of the words chosen to describe events seemed to have been chosen by thesaurus or to sound smart. The breakneck speed of change of topic one sentence to the next was confusing. The detail of some elements of his story were bafflingly specific with absolutely no reason for even being included in the book. He describes most people in his life - even minor characters - with a complete lack of kindness or nuance. What I disliked the most was that there was no reflection on the elements of his life, what brought him to some of the low points, or how his life has intersected and affected others. His recounting of his many grievances felt vengeful and with absolutely no critical reflection. This was a chronological “this happened, then this happened” type book, albeit one with graphic descriptions of his lifestyle that seemed written to shock the reader. I always appreciate reading books about people with different lived experiences than my own. This perhaps could have been a powerful read in the hands of a very VERY good editor. I do NOT recommend.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kate

    This small book packs a punch. It is the true story of Mohamed's birth in Somalia and childhood in the Netherlands and Canada as he comes to terms with his queer identity and wrestles with how to be gay and respectful of his Somali culture. He describes many horrible experiences, including child abuse, addiction, mental health struggle and homelessness. These are described in great detail, so if you have had any of those experiences, this book may trigger you. I personally loved this book for it This small book packs a punch. It is the true story of Mohamed's birth in Somalia and childhood in the Netherlands and Canada as he comes to terms with his queer identity and wrestles with how to be gay and respectful of his Somali culture. He describes many horrible experiences, including child abuse, addiction, mental health struggle and homelessness. These are described in great detail, so if you have had any of those experiences, this book may trigger you. I personally loved this book for its spunk, honesty and what I learned about Somali politics and culture. I also liked that since Mohamed is close to my age, I understood his cultural references and remembered the events he refers to in his book firsthand as I too spent my teenage years in Toronto. In addition to his own life story, Mohamed includes his opinion on the Toronto police's handling of crimes by black men, and explores why his abusive stepmother discouraged him from identifying as "black: although he was born in East Africa. This book is not for the faint of heart, but it is a beautifully written page-turner and a powerful story of one gay man's resilience as he comes to terms with his racial and sexual identity. A brilliant debut!

  17. 5 out of 5

    Bradley Bond

    The subtitle to this book is "A Complicated Memoir," and I have to say, I couldn't agree more. Mo's story is raw, it's real, and it's difficult to read from a place of privilege. His life experiences do help the reader understand race and class segregation, particularly among refugees (and in Mo's case, a queer refugee). The difficulty of the subject matter is good--I want to feel uncomfortable when I'm reading experiences such as Mo's. But the difficulty of the writing style made the book hard The subtitle to this book is "A Complicated Memoir," and I have to say, I couldn't agree more. Mo's story is raw, it's real, and it's difficult to read from a place of privilege. His life experiences do help the reader understand race and class segregation, particularly among refugees (and in Mo's case, a queer refugee). The difficulty of the subject matter is good--I want to feel uncomfortable when I'm reading experiences such as Mo's. But the difficulty of the writing style made the book hard to read. There were many names thrown around once or twice, places that seemed to have meaning and then didn't--the character development was lacking (yes, this is non-fiction--but I still need to empathize with the protagonist or understand his relations with others). The only strong character development was that of his stepmother. It's a wonderful (concise) text to read to try to better empathize with those who have had very different experiences, but be prepared to say to yourself, "Wait, what?" and have to re-read entire sections of the book to fully grasp Mo's message.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

    A frank account autobiographical account of growing up - per the title - as queer Somali boy in the Netherlands, the UK and eventually Canada. The author contends with a lot of the trauma experienced both within his family and within himself. The book has some darkly comedic observations on Somali culture, the African diaspora at large and the immigrant experience in various countries. As someone who lives in Canada, the parts that focus on Toronto were particularly resonant. I can't say the book A frank account autobiographical account of growing up - per the title - as queer Somali boy in the Netherlands, the UK and eventually Canada. The author contends with a lot of the trauma experienced both within his family and within himself. The book has some darkly comedic observations on Somali culture, the African diaspora at large and the immigrant experience in various countries. As someone who lives in Canada, the parts that focus on Toronto were particularly resonant. I can't say the book was 'enjoyable', in the sense that the author details a lot of traumatic experiences. That said, it is a fairly quick read and his unflinching commitment to honesty is both engaging and poignant, without being overwrought.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anna Soer

    The conversations about the hypocrisy of his fellow Somalis, the failed multiculturalism of Canada and Europe, and his own complex relationship with Islam could have been truly interesting. Everybody takes on blows. But this book felt like a diary of a man who had a yearn for some kind of vengeance, rendering those conversations anecdotes and oddly incorporated into the narrative. It could have been a true masterpiece, with interesting social commentaries, instead it feels like a dumping site fo The conversations about the hypocrisy of his fellow Somalis, the failed multiculturalism of Canada and Europe, and his own complex relationship with Islam could have been truly interesting. Everybody takes on blows. But this book felt like a diary of a man who had a yearn for some kind of vengeance, rendering those conversations anecdotes and oddly incorporated into the narrative. It could have been a true masterpiece, with interesting social commentaries, instead it feels like a dumping site for a man's life grievances. Not to mention the quite strangely specific mentions of his sexual life and practices, which in my opinion serve no real purpose but make the story a bit trashy.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ampersand Inc.

    I do love a good memoir or biography, but sometimes they are all too sad for me, like this one. Ali chronicles his early life in Somalia and the Netherlands to his adult years in Toronto. The short chapters are swift and filled with candor, emotion, and humour despite the miserable conditions. Ali suffered at the hands of his abusive step-mother, but never gave up hope that life would be better once he left her household. On top of that Ali is a closeted gay man in a very strict and submissive c I do love a good memoir or biography, but sometimes they are all too sad for me, like this one. Ali chronicles his early life in Somalia and the Netherlands to his adult years in Toronto. The short chapters are swift and filled with candor, emotion, and humour despite the miserable conditions. Ali suffered at the hands of his abusive step-mother, but never gave up hope that life would be better once he left her household. On top of that Ali is a closeted gay man in a very strict and submissive culture. But that doesn’t stop him from living his life and finding joy.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Parmis

    I read this in one sitting too. It was raw and it's hard not to respect or be taken by such vulnerability in writing. He writes with such page-turning momentum whilst encapsulating so much in such a brief memoir. If that's not excellence in craft, I don't know what is. Furthermore, his sociopolitical analyses, the social tensions and unease he explores is compelling. He calls us out on our social hypocrisies, colonial history, Islamophobia but also complexities within the Muslim world, with the p I read this in one sitting too. It was raw and it's hard not to respect or be taken by such vulnerability in writing. He writes with such page-turning momentum whilst encapsulating so much in such a brief memoir. If that's not excellence in craft, I don't know what is. Furthermore, his sociopolitical analyses, the social tensions and unease he explores is compelling. He calls us out on our social hypocrisies, colonial history, Islamophobia but also complexities within the Muslim world, with the power of his lived truths. I'm just so glad this book exists.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Mollie

    This was a hard book to read although not as graphic as I was expecting. I liked the straight forward language used. The writing style made it a quick read but the subject matter - the abuse, the upbringing, the legacy shadowing Mohamed as an adult - was by no means a lite read. I hope he continues to get help for his addictions and demons. Thank you for sharing your story.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Nicola

    This is a scorchingly painful memoir to read, and complicated is definitely an appropriate description. The pain in this story finds no resolution; there is no narrative arc that bends towards a redemptive ending. Ali is brutally honest and doesn't make any attempt to excuse himself from the horrible victimization and abuse in this story. It will take me quite a long time to digest this story.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Diana

    “Auden once wrote that suffering can take place while someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along.” I appreciate the opportunity to view life through this stranger’s eyes. We’re roughly the same age and couldn’t be more different. This book covers difficult topics but it is well written and engaging.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Hugh Carter

    This book felt like the summary of an epic memoir. A super short read full of allusions to larger and deeper stories that the author doesn't have time to get into. He wrote this while living in a homeless shelter. I hope he finds the opportunity to revisit a lot of his history - if this book had been triple the size I suspect it would be just as compelling.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Adriana Prima

    Ali tells his unique and complex life story with surprising honesty. He does not shy away from recounting events that might disturb people or make him less likeable to the reader, which I appreciated. Ali states his opinions on race bluntly, lifting the veil on the illusion of Toronto as a beautiful multicultural haven.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Tate Brombal

    Brave, unapologetic, and raw. There are moments in this book that are hard to get through, but they are necessary. Ali has laid his life bare and made his origins clear, leaving us with new understanding.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Brett Waytuck

    The title sums it up ... a visceral look at life framed by emigration and dislocation

  29. 4 out of 5

    Zakiyya

    To put it simply a real, raw, and wonderful read. :)

  30. 4 out of 5

    Ash

    Amazing account of a familiar story

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