Love Is an Ex-Country

Catapult. Feb. 2021. 240p. ISBN 9781948226585. $26. MEMOIR
Jarrar (A Map of Home), who self-identifies as fat and queer, writes about her experiences as an Arab American with an itinerant childhood. Her father was abusive and when Jarrar seeks help from the police as a teenager, she is informed that filing a complaint will jeopardize her father’s immigration status. Lacking recourse to protect herself, she married young. Her husband was also abusive and controlling; when Jarrar becomes pregnant, he coerces her into keeping the child. When the marriage implodes, Jarrar is left to raise her son on her own. Although billed as a memoir of a road trip the author took from California to Connecticut, the book is so scattershot that this narrative backbone is almost entirely incidental, if not absent. Jarrar jumps back and forth in time and situation, from one country to another. Her immersion in the S&M community helped her overcome self-image issues and reassert control in her life and relationships. Throughout the book, many of her divulgences about her sexual life seem lurid rather than germane or revelatory.
VERDICT Readers interested in the queer Arab American experience may be better served by Samra Habib’s We Have Always Been Here. Recommended for fans of the author’s previous work.
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