During a life-changing trip to Cairo in the summer of 2000, Amelia met Amir. The two quickly fell in love and, upon realizing life would be unbearable if spent apart, they marry—just one month and a day after meeting. While their marriage appeared rushed to many, for them, it was simply the beginning of a lifetime of love. SOUTHERN CONVERT, however, is not a love story. Instead, this memoir details the author’s journey from being the wife of a Muslim to becoming a Muslim herself and examines the full impact of her conversion on her life.
Upon marrying Amir, Ms. Hussain was forced to confront their cultural differences, which at times created conflict between them. The biggest of these was her wardrobe: Amir believed her clothing was, at times, too revealing. She explains the effect a change in wardrobe had on her mentally and emotionally, and the reader comes to understand the complexity of cultural fusion. Their cultural differences were highlighted by 9/11, which forced the author to confront her own deeply held biases and even antagonism toward the Muslim community. Through it all, Amir remained supportive, and soon Ms. Hussain decided to convert to Islam.
The author makes clear Amir did not force her to convert; rather, she came to discover that Islam contained the answers she had been seeking all along. SOUTHERN CONVERT (subtitle: From Midwest to Middle East to MAGA Country) describes the process by which Ms. Hussain came to this realization and explains the many ways she—a self-described “reluctant Agnostic”—discovered a spiritual connection to Islam. Two years later, Ms. Hussain decided to wear the hijab. Before coming to this decision, she grappled with her vanity, her assumptions, and her fears. Her decision to wear the hijab was perhaps the most powerful one, as it directly influenced the way others treated her. Ms. Hussain describes the positive—and not so positive—consequences of wearing the hijab in America.
SOUTHERN CONVERT culminates in an examination of Muslim life in America today. While these are divisive times, Ms. Hussain’s words unite rather than divide. Her memoir focuses on what connects us while simultaneously conveying the fears unique to the Muslim community living in America. Ms. Hussain recounts her experiences with humor and insight.
At a time when people feel more divided than ever, Amelia S. Hussain’s SOUTHERN CONVERT is a bridge that connects people and corrects assumptions– all while telling an engaging and engrossing story.
~Jennifer Noll for IndieReader