Title: Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America
Author: Ranya Tabari Idliby
Release Date: January 7, 2014
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
Genre: Nonfiction, Memoir, Cultural
Rating: 3 out of 5
In this memoir, Ranya Tabari Idliby examines her Muslim faith and thinks about how to reconcile it with her American identity for her own sake, as well as that of her two children.
Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America is an interesting book, but an uneven one. Those interested in the spiritual aspects of Islam and how they can live side-by-side with American values and ideals should pick up this book, but those interested in a more practical memoir about being Muslim in America should look elsewhere.
Ranya Tabari Idliby is the coauthor of the book The Faith Club, an honest discourse about religion between three women: a Muslim, a Christian, and a Jew. I wasn’t aware of that when I first picked up Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie: Being Muslim in America, but I wish I had been. I have a feeling it works much better as a companion book, expounding on the thoughts and ideas developed in that first one. Idliby references her book tour for The Faith Club quite often in this book, and it would have been helpful to have that background.
Though the name Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie makes it seem as though this is a memoir about the practical considerations of being Muslim in America, it’s much more of a spiritual guide. Idliby is definitely concerned with the more practical issues (especially for the sake of her children), but most of the book actually seems to be how Idliby reconciles her personal faith, values, and beliefs with her firm American identity. Though it’s interesting, it’s really not what I expected, as at times it feels much more like a spiritual guide than a memoir.
The tone of Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie also felt strange. As I’ve said, it jumps between memoir and spiritual guide, but the last few chapters are addressed directly (in second person) to Idliby’s daughter. This isn’t really how the rest of the book is structured or voiced and it felt a bit jarring. Idliby’s hopes for her daughter are definitely sweet and will resonate with those of varied backgrounds and faiths, but it didn’t read smoothly.
Despite my issues with Burqas, Baseball, and Apple Pie, I still found it interesting. I admire Idliby for her efforts and trying to be a spokesperson for Muslims in the United States. It can’t be an easy job, and indeed, Idliby recounts horrible prejudices she encounters from both sides—Americans and devout Muslims. She has some interesting points, and though the structure didn’t sit well with me, I appreciate what she tried to do with this book and is continuing to do with her Faith Club discussions.