Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Shared experiences

I finally read a book that I mentioned in my post about Boston Book Festival 2014, Najla Said's memoir Looking for Palestine. It was an intriguing look at the complicated matter of multicultural identity. One section in particular caught my attention. When discussing her mother, who is from Lebanon, Said says, "I had no idea she spoke with an accent until my friend Caroline told me so when we were in the fourth grade." This may seem strange to many of you, but it instantly resonated with me. My mother is from Iran, and I remember people telling me when I was very young, "I love your mom's accent!" For some time, my reaction was, "What accent?" To me, that was just how my mother spoke; there didn't seem to be anything out of the ordinary about it. Plus, her sisters and other family members have much stronger accents than she does, so I only associated accents with them.

One of the powers of literature that I appreciate is how it can sometimes prove that our experiences or perspectives are not as weird as we might have thought. I loved discovering through this memoir that I was not alone in having this funny little experience. I'd always felt a bit silly for not realizing sooner what was so apparent to everyone else, but suddenly, here was affirmation that I was neither silly nor alone. Not bad for something I bought on Amazon, huh?

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