Muddy People: A Muslim Coming of Age

Greystone. Jun. 2022. 256p. ISBN 9781771649971. pap. $18.95. MEMOIR
El Sayed’s debut memoir recounts growing up Muslim as a young Egyptian Australian girl. Her family, like many families, had a lot of rules, El Sayed writes—among them, “Rule 1: Don’t touch alcohol”; “Rule 10: No fighting with your brother”; and “Rule 21: Never talk to strangers.” El Sayed uses these rules to structure her memoir which pays homage to her parents, her family, and the challenges she encountered living by these edicts. It’s an engaging read where she makes sense of her upbringing and gives voice to the experiences of many Muslim girls. She also reflects on a life that took her from Egypt, her homeland, to Australia—a very different place where she was consistently reminded that she and her family were the “other”; like any change, the transition was difficult for the young El Sayed, but she writes that the family rules were a helpful force for navigating the dynamics of a new country.
VERDICT El Sayed’s coming-of-age memoir about resiliency, family, and identity will delight readers as a study of making sense of a world where rules can often help along the way.
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