Book Review: We Have Always Been Here

Title: We Have Always Been Here
Author: Samra Habib
Date Published: June 4, 2019
Rating: 4/5 stars
Date read: April 23, 2020

We Have Always Been Here is a memoir written by Samra Habib, a Canadian photographer, writer, and activist. Samra is best known for her Just Me and Allah project, in which she photographs and documents the lives of queer muslims living in North America and Europe. Her memoir details her struggles growing up Ahmadi Muslim during the oppression of Islamic extremists, immigrating to Canada, and discovering her queer identity, all the while facing sexism, racism, and homophobia, and how her many experiences have been impacted by her muslim faith.

When I first started reading Samra’s memoir I wasn’t overly impressed by the writing, but it definitely improved over the course of the novel. I think Samra actively chose to write according to the age she was describing, and that could explain the improvement as the novel progressed. 

We Have Always Been Here is such an important and impactful story that I feel needed to be told. I don’t often enough hear the voices of queer muslims and am ignorant of the struggles they face being accepted by the muslim community at large. Samra points out that Canadians in particular are ignorant in that Canada is progressive when it comes to LGBTQIA+ rights, and so don’t fully understand that there are still people who struggle to be accepted. Everyone one should read this story for this reason alone.

In terms of Samra’s experiences, I loved reading about someone who came into their queer identity slowly, and that her experience was a learning process. I can relate a lot to discovering my identity in adulthood, and I often wonder if being queer were more accepted and normalized how many people would realize their identities sooner. I especially enjoyed reading about Samra’s varying relationships with her family members. The hurdles they go through together or apart make for a compelling narrative with a very happy and satisfying conclusion. I also liked that being muslim was not treated as a negative thing, and that Samra’s religion was very important to her and helped shape her identity. 

Overall I really enjoyed Samra’s memoir, I love reading about people who are passionate about their beliefs and who are able to overcome discrimination and difficulties. Highly recommend!

Have you read We Have Always Been Here? If not, do you plan to? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Happy reading! 💗



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