CHICAGO: “We are a religion of peace, not terror. We are Americans, too.” From the city of Chicago comes the incredible story by award-winning author Sahar Mustafah “The Beauty of Your Face.” As a first-generation Palestinian-American, Afaf Rahman struggles with complicated relationships, her own identity and sense of belonging and her responsibility to keep herself and her family from drowning in despair when her 17-year-old sister disappears one night.
Readers first meet Mustafah’s main character in the suburbs of Chicago. As a mom and principal of the Islamic Nurrideen School for Girls, Rahman’s life has its own complexities. These all seem trivial, however, when teachers and students at the school come under attack from a radicalized active shooter.
As Rahman attempts to understand the situation, she falls back into memories of the path that has brought her to this point. Her life has never been easy, and it does not seem to be getting any easier.
Mustafah creates a unique yet relatable immigrant experience with her cast of characters, a family of five: Baba, Mama, Nada, Rahman, and Majeed. Her story pays homage to Chicago, its incredible communities and how these have transformed. It is not difficult for readers to immediately become invested in her characters as they adapt to trying and ever-changing circumstances.
The author masterfully captures the hopes and disappointments of the American dream and the traumas and joys that shape the relationships between children and their immigrant parents. This story shows bright moments while not shying away from harsh realities as Rahman’s family faces prejudice, discrimination, and financial crises.