Your Inner Butterfly: Embracing, Releasing and Re-writing Your Story

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They made me wonder if we make too little effort to communicate when it seems easy to do so. The film successfully mixes a down-to-earth style, great special effects to see through Bauby's one remaining eye, and jaw-dropping montage. As we observe mundane details of our hero's life falling apart or reaching fulfilment, the camera cuts to ice fields collapsing into the sea or winding back in reverse motion. Or there will be a sudden switch to sensuality as he guzzles wine and oysters in a swank restaurant, feeding and being fed by his lover.

Janusz Kaminski, the cinematographer for countless Steven Spielberg's, excels, as does Oscar-winning screenwriter Ronald Harwood. It should perhaps be noted that the film has not been immune to attempted high-jacks by groups with their own agendas. The Catholic News Service hailed its 'life-affirming qualities' compared to another great film it denigrates, The Sea Inside. Although locked-in state is a rare condition, few individuals experiencing it are likely to have the wealth and resources, public acclaim and reason to live that Bauby had. The inadequacies of the descriptions of this movie emphasize the gulf between the written or spoken word and the work of art itself.

I could write all the spoilers and it wouldn't make a difference, because the riveting quality here doesn't depend on plot surprises. It is the improbable story, a story that will touch you and then executed by actors who seem like their lives depend on being true to the story. This is an anti-Hollywood, anti-formula movie. Those have their place, but this is a great antidote to the silly decisions made by inappropriately powerful studio execs. See it. You'll be thankful you did. A film professing to be based upon a true story should stay true to the story.

This one does not. I was so moved by the film after watching it last night, I decided to do some research on Jean-Dominique Bauby. And what did I discover? The truth is, the filmmakers took some serious liberties with the truth, portraying Mr. Bauby's girlfriend as a narcissistic flake who couldn't bring herself to visit her paralyzed lover, while at the same time glorifying the mother of his children as the steadfast, dutiful companion who remained loyal despite Bauby's love for another woman. In fact, the opposite is true. Bauby's girlfriend was constantly by his side, while the mother of his children visited him perhaps three or four times in total.

She was traveling with her boyfriend in America when Bauby died in his girlfriend's arms. The real story, as represented in the book and by Bauby's friends, was needlessly altered by the filmmakers. One can only imagine the very real pain and harm the filmmakers have caused to the people who were there for Bauby during his final years. The liberties taken are libel, no doubt about it, and it is a testament to the integrity of the real heroine, Florence, that she has not sued over the abhorrent way in which she is portrayed by this piece of pointlessly subversive garbage.

Furthermore, Bauby never asked to die--not once. His speech therapist apparently refused to see the film after reading the lies in the script. The filmmakers apparently have respect neither for the living, nor the dead. I feel cheated by this film.

Our Butterfly

In fact, I feel sick to my stomach. The real story is just as interesting, and equally inspiring--if not more so. Knowing the truth about this film gives one a sense for why collective society is mistaken about so many things. We can thank the arrogance of the entertainment industry--which now includes the news networks--for our ignorance. We must be diligent in our skepticism, and tenacious in our pursuit of the truth. Reality is the only source of true wisdom and understanding. I wish others felt as offended by this film as I do. Disgusting and beneath contempt.

When I saw the trailer of this French movie for the first time, nothing appealed to me. Second time, I thought the director had used very good and innovative camera angles. Later I read about the story and I got hooked to see this movie. I do not understand French or the Dutch sub-titles. My friends are amazed at my zeal to still go and see a movie with no language orientation.

This is his story from his eye view. Despite his condition, he authored a book by blinking his left eye-lid when a correct alphabet was uttered by a person. It is a painful process to write a book with such a pace. Not only for Jean but it requires enormous patience from the side of the one scripting the alphabet to form words and sentences.

Jean died 3 days after the book was published. This is his third movie and he has hit the right chords to draw the vast canvas. In the first couple of minutes we are all set for what is to follow. The fantastic capture of real eye angle camera movements from the vision of Jean is incredibly real. It is so wonderful and sensitive. Mathieu Amalric has played the character of Jean with so authentication that it is hard to believe and separate his self from the real character. The most wonderful part that remains with you after the movie is the sense of humor with which Jean sees this world.

He remains light hearted at times and thinks hilarious comments even in the most painful state of his being. I would also like to mention the two supporting characters who render Jean's words on paper. The photography is superb. The camera angles as I mentioned are innovative and treat to watch. Hats off to Julian Schnabel in gifting the world of cinema a rare gem!

Stars 7. The immersion into the life of a man that is a part of a horrific event, where just about all seems lost and where he becomes literally trapped with in his own body can be heart-achingly depressing, however, it was actually, due to poetic direction, a mesmerizing, stylistic and somewhat uplifting story. The air was a little sweeter, after the viewing since life becomes more appreciated. This movie helps you appreciate the finer things in life and realize all that we take for granted.

Giving the film a surreal feel as though in a dream we witness a collage of memories, imaginations and actual dreams. From this, along with actual visits from loved ones we get an understanding of the man's life before the accident. It is filmed from the stroke victim's point of view. You see exactly what he sees, such as when his eye gets weak and things get blurry.

We are also exposed to the man's thoughts as we hear him talking to the people about his feelings and what he wants to say despite being mute, and not being heard by the people. His thoughts give realness to the character and show us that he is still human. He even finds humor in his situation and says, to the nurse that doesn't hear him, "you need to get a sense of humor".

Overall a message about life. At the peak of this mans life an extremely severe paralysis befalls him.

At first understandably pitying himself he is able to find some humor in his situation, and parts of the movie actually make you laugh and then inspiration. Inspiration stemming from realization that his imagination and memory are in tact. He can feel good using his mind and can even be creative and productive. Saw this last night in Brussels it's been on release for a while now. I was worried that it would be arty and depressing, but I was pleasantly surprised by how absorbing and moving it was.

The opening scenes are striking, and communicate well the main character's feelings of claustrophobia and helplessness in the immediate aftermath of his accident, but as he attempts to rebuild his life and learn how to communicate, the film and the visual style opens up, even making room for some welcome flashes of humour. Performances are excellent, but the real stars here are the writer s and director, for taking us so convincingly into the character's world. The former France ELLE editor Jean-Dominique Bauby quoted his life as being trapped in a diving bell and free like a butterfly, and that was how he describes his life after a stroke left him only able to blink his left eye.

The Diving Bell and The Butterfly has become the title of his memoirs, which has become a best seller which Bauby will never get to see. American born director Julian Schnabel picked up the memoir and made it into a movie that will re-examine the way a person will view his life. From the way the movie was presented to the audience, it might seems to be difficult to digest, but if you watch them once again, you will find that the flow of the movie follows closely to what is written on the book.

The story begins with Jean Dominique Mathieu Amalric finding himself woke up in a hospital,unable to move his body. Upon hearing from the doctor that a stroke left him unable to move, except his left eye, he found himself trapped in a prison: his body. He describes his body as a diving bell, where death sentence prisoner would wore the diving bell and drowned in the sea.

With doctors and therapists taking care of him, he found himself living without dignity. With the help of Henriteet Marie Jozee Croze , a speech therapist, she uses a unique method of communicating with Jean thru pronouncing the alphabets and Jean would form a word or sentence by blinking the eye. After getting to know her much more better, Jean found his way to survive thru the disabilities: imagination and beautiful memories. Both set his spirit free, and he feels like he is flying like a butterfly.

And thus he began writing his memoirs of his life. The story is told through the view from Jean's left eye and reaction in his mind after the stroke.

See a Problem?

This pulls the audience and the inner world of Jean closer, and audience could have a feel of putting themselves into Jean's shoes. From the effort the cast and crew puts in the movie, we can tell that the movie is follow everything accordingly to the book, without any adjustments. The Diving Bell and the Butterfly is the movie that you need if you want to take a break from normal popcorn flicks, or a movie that makes you think through about yourself, and how you live life to the fullest.

The lighting and photography enhance the film, and the faces of the French women are wondrous to behold as the story unfolds on the screen. This film deserves all the accolades that it has received in a story which is spellbinding and emotional. The cast is superb, the scenes that depict the father and son are very real and show the importance of acceptance of father for son, which is carried down to his own children, and the final scenes leave you with a great respect for the writer and his story.

Merci beau coup, Ronald Harwood, for delivering this story to the screen. Somewhere beyond the sea, somewhere waiting for me American painter turned director Julian Schnabel loves biopics of extraordinary artists. His feature debut, "Basquiat" , was an interesting portrait of the troubled painter played by Jeffrey Wright.

His new film, "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly", surpasses his previous efforts and is nothing short of a masterpiece, for lack of a better word. This time, though, his "artist" is a successful 43 year-old man, Elle magazine editor Jean-Dominique Bauby Mathieu Amalric , a bon-vivant who becomes a victim of the so-called "locked-in syndrome" after a sudden stroke. His mental faculties are intact, but he can't move anything but his left eyelid. With the help of a speech therapist, he struggles to write his memoirs, by blinking letter by letter and letting her write what he wants to say.

Saying more about the plot would spoil the wonderful experience of watching "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly". In spite of Bauby's disability, the film is never overly melodramatic, being similar to but even better than "The Sea Inside" and "My Left Foot". France made the mistake of submitting the fantastic animation "Persepolis" instead of "Diving Bell", but they should know the Academy would never give Best Foreign Film for an animated movie, as good as it might be, and therefore neither of them got the nomination.

But that's actually the Academy's fault for their stupid rules, since France should've been allowed to submit both movies. What if two of the best foreign movies of the year were from the same country? In a perfect world, there would be only a Best Picture category and films from any country and any language would be nominated, but since most people still ignore subtitles, this 'segregation' has to exist. Oh well.

Oscar blunders apart, this is a film that will make you see and value the beauty of life. Bravo, Mr. Bravo, Monsieur Bauby! Waking up from a stroke is terrible, but waking up as someone else is even more shocking. Jean-Dominique knew himself but didn't recognize the person he became after his stroke, which had left him with locked-in syndrome. He wanted to piece together what had happened to him and what he was left with, which allowed him to appreciate the fact that he was indeed still alive and surrounded by people who genuinely loved him.

Locked-in syndrome might seem like the end all be all but Jean-Dominique had such a humbling and good sense of humor about it. We become Jean-Dominique from the beginning, played wonderfully by Mathieu Amalric, in this point-of-view subtitled masterpiece, living our last days in a French hospital with only gorgeous rolling hillsides, countryside, beaches, and glaciers to look at. As the editor of Elle we can only expect a lifestyle of luxury and also not be surprised by the amorous affairs of such a charismatic figure.

He eventually started working on a book with one of his caretakers, Claude- by which the method of writing was that he dictated sentences with his one remaining eye to her. I believe that she grew to love him, and he may have perhaps loved her in a way as well as we can see by some of what he dictates to her and the point-of-view shots of him frequently checking her out. The relationships that he formed with his caretakers as well as with the mother of his children, Celine, who still loved him despite what they had been through, were beautiful yet agonizing to watch.

Every time an airy tune started to play, we were whisked off into a sort of Jean-Do oyster-eating sexual fantasy or uplifting flash back, but then the music was abruptly cut off and we went back to being trapped again. By last time this happened I was starting to anticipate it. I am impressed by Julian Schnabel's ability to allow us to become fully absorbed in Jean Dominique's life and not holding anything back, no matter how hard it may have been to watch. He did justice to Basquiat as well.

I honestly don't think most Americans can appreciate this honest sort of cinema, but I hope that this will gain a wide release, or be distributed however Julian Schnabel would like it to. I plan on reading Jean-Dominique's book now, as it seems to be a beautiful manuscript. Buddy 1 June Because film is a largely realistic medium, "impressionism" is a style rarely attempted by even the most adventurous of movie makers.

Indeed, Terrance Malick is one of the few directors working today who has found consistent success artistic if not commercial in that genre. Now we can add French filmmaker Julian Schnabel to the list for his truly remarkable work in "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," a movie that defies easy categorization and is quite unlike anything we've encountered before.

The story definitely falls into the "truth is stranger than fiction" category. Jean-Dominique Bauby was a year-old writer and editor-in-chief of Elle Magazine when, in , he suffered a massive stroke that left him completely paralyzed in all but his left eye. Confined to a bed and a wheelchair and unable to speak or move, all Bauby could do was look out on the world around him without any real hope of ever being able to communicate beyond a simple batting of the eyelid in response to a string of "yes or no" questions.

However, thanks to the ingenuity of one of his therapists, Bauby eventually found a way - by painstakingly spelling out each word one letter at a time - to not only communicate fully with those around him but to actually dictate an entire best-selling book with the use of his one eye. Despite what the subtitle of this book might suggest, this isn't a frothy little 'white girl has epiphany away from home' piece. Instead it's a wonderful, complicated, thoughtful exploration of Islam, politics, family, and belonging.

Wilson became interested in Islam while in college in the United States, finding that it provided the best explanation for things she already felt and believed but for which she had no name. During a year spent in Egypt to teach English, she personally and formally Despite what the subtitle of this book might suggest, this isn't a frothy little 'white girl has epiphany away from home' piece. During a year spent in Egypt to teach English, she personally and formally converted the two are quite different things, the former being an act of faith, the second an act directed by the Egyptian bureaucracy and she met, and fell in love with, a Muslim man whom she married an act that again occurred more than once according to the dictates of faith, culture, and state.

Wilson is adept at describing what she finds fulfilling about Islam, and particularly good at unpacking the meaning of prayer and ritual as means of submitting to something greater than the self. She's also an astute witness to her own liminal existence, an American Muslim in an Arab place, joined by religion to those around her, set apart by the danger she represents to others because of the Egyptian police force's interest in her life, and by American military and diplomatic policies in the Middle East the latter of which are not really diplomatic in any meaningful sense of the word.

She tries to write about her experiences and publish them in the US - feels beholden to try and explain her corner of the Arab world, her family, her neighbors, and her adopted culture to Americans who seem hostile to learning about concepts they would rather demonize, but finds her efforts frustrated not only by people in political and religious opposition to her, but American Muslims too. One of the most compelling parts of the book is the unfolding tale of how Wilson and her family and friends end up under surveillance - and even detained - by the FBI because of her adopted faith and country.

As Wilson so deftly and ably describes, the actions that many people in the United States decry in other areas of the world are exactly the same actions they adopt out of fear of some Other they will not try to understand. Wilson offers no easy answers - her life is a daily tightrope walk between the culture of her birth and the culture of her adopted homeland, with Islam as a place of safety, support, and refuge, but also a place of contradiction and confusion.

A truly excellent, thought-provoking book. View 1 comment. Feb 28, Jennifer Abdo rated it really liked it Recommended to Jennifer by: found at library. Shelves: memoir. If you're a Christian and still think all Muslims are secretly terrorists and the true Islam promotes terrorism, this is probably a book you should read. As an American convert to Islam, she has some good perspective and insights. Again as with Jehan Sadat , raised an atheist Sadat being Muslim of course , I don't think she has a good grasp of Christianity when she talks about it.

She contrasts Islam with Calvinism and Catholicsm and lists a bunch of things I as a Christian don't believe in eit If you're a Christian and still think all Muslims are secretly terrorists and the true Islam promotes terrorism, this is probably a book you should read. She contrasts Islam with Calvinism and Catholicsm and lists a bunch of things I as a Christian don't believe in either hierarchy, original sin, etc. All in all, a great read. I was disappointed when it ended just before her return to America for an extended period after a year or more in Egypt with her conversion, marriage, near assimilation all happening in that time.

Maybe it's not been long enough since the events occurred, but I was wanting to know how her experience in America was after her living in Egypt and trying so hard to fit in there. What stuck out to her? Did she prefer one place after all or was she torn? Did Americans seem coarse and overbearing? Did she easily slip back into a Muslim version of her American self or stay more Arab as she had become?

So many things. Maybe there will be another book. Growing up in a Christian home, I have read many Christian conversion stories in my lifetime. This was refreshing on many levels, but I think the part that was most compelling was reading how G. Willow was drawn to converting to Islam after being raised an atheist. At the same time she is converting to a new culture, since she moved to Egypt after college and ended up marrying an Egyptian. That is a lot of change in a short time, and her insights into the culture of Egyptian Muslims, the intrica Growing up in a Christian home, I have read many Christian conversion stories in my lifetime.

That is a lot of change in a short time, and her insights into the culture of Egyptian Muslims, the intricate differences between types of Muslim practice including a section about the veil that I think everyone should read! She was also one of the keynote speakers at the conference, and attended our book-club meeting where we discussed the book even further. While I know some were disappointed this book ended with her marriage, she made it clear that it was incredibly hard to write at such length about herself and has no plans to ever do it again.

In her speech she also talked about GamerGate and writing people of difference, and how important it is. Read this, but also read Alif the Unseen and Ms.

The Butterfly Mosque: A Young American Woman's Journey to Love and Islam by G. Willow Wilson

Marvel, Vol. View 2 comments. Apr 18, Courtney Huber rated it liked it. I appreciated learning about Islam and Egyptian culture, which was my primary reason for wanting to read this widely hailed memoir. I must say, though, I felt that the author skims the surface of some very important, complex issues. I often found myself thinking, "But, wait--what about? She bar I appreciated learning about Islam and Egyptian culture, which was my primary reason for wanting to read this widely hailed memoir.

She barely dips a toe into the deep ocean of gender tensions and why this might be. Also, she comes across as patronizing and condescending at times, as when she's explaining her new religion to her American friends. Lastly, she ends the book just when I was finally starting to get into it, at the worst possible time. She and her Egyptian husband are about to depart for America to live there for some time, and it just ends before their trip. What a major loss and exclusion! The inclusion of that element would have rounded out her and her husband's experience together as a newly married couple.

So, even though I appreciated learning things about a foreign culture and religion, I didn't care much for this book as a memoir. Although a memoir's nature is in part rooted in bias, it ultimately annoyed and exasperated me.

Butterfly Dreams

Jul 20, Eliza rated it it was amazing Shelves: memoirs. This book resonated a lot with me. She decides to move to Egypt to work at an English school there. She converts to Islam, learns Arabic, falls in love with an Egyptian man, eventually marries him, and becomes part of Egyptian culture. As the author discusses her first interests in Islam and the process where she learned more about it, partially thru her liberal arts edu This book resonated a lot with me.

As the author discusses her first interests in Islam and the process where she learned more about it, partially thru her liberal arts education, I felt myself agreeing from where she was coming from. She grew up in an atheist household, and it was difficult at first for her to embrace religion at all. What I found fascinating was how she decided upon Islam.


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The limitations put on these for women is cultural, not implied in Islamic religious texts. The author found herself facing stereotypes and fears that she didn't realize she had. She secretly had an implicit fear that once she married her Egyptian husband, she would become basically a domestic slave, losing her rights as a free woman, and that her husband would change his actions towards her and become more violent -- her stereotype of an Arab, Muslim man.

For me, because it was written by an American woman who grew up in circumstances not that different from my own, it made her account very relatable and gave more insight towards Arab Muslim life because of her comparisons between that and her life growing up in the U. Jul 15, Joseph rated it it was amazing Shelves: non-fiction. A highly thought-provoking book. Wilson does a magnificent job of using her own life as a way of presenting a very nuanced picture of Islam and life in the Middle East. The Boston Globe recently ran an article about her, and, reading the book, I was reminded of the comments left by readers, exposing a lot of fear and bigotry while accusing Wilson of simple-minded naivete.

Her writing, however, shows her to be both wise and level-headed. If I had any complaints, it would be that she tends to rush A highly thought-provoking book. If I had any complaints, it would be that she tends to rush through the development of her relationship with her husband. I know the book is about her, but it would have been nice to get a better sense of Omar and what drew them together.

Additionally, some of the dialogue feels a bit stilted and artificial, but that is perhaps to be expected as it is primarily included as a means of delivering exposition rather than as an authentic account of actual conversations. The sad truth is that I know almost next to nothing about Islam or life in a Muslim society. I'm still left with many questions, but that is no fault of this book, which gives a clear-eyed view of the world hidden behind modern prejudice.

Oct 26, miteypen rated it liked it Shelves: religion. The title promises more than the book delivers. It's been a while since I read the book, but I remember being disappointed by how little she discusses about her conversion to and love for Islam. This is mostly about her experiences living in another culture. Even the love story seems dispassionate, as if she is merely recounting facts.

I ended up with the feeling that there was far more to the story. This isn't to say that the book isn't worth reading. The author offers valuable insights into wha The title promises more than the book delivers. The author offers valuable insights into what it's like to be thrust into another culture.

She does write about Islam and her conversion; perhaps it was just not to the degree that I wanted her to. I was a recent convert at the time that I read it and I was looking for commonalities as well as suggestions as to how to adapt. Since this book is mainly about life in a Muslim country, I didn't really get any practical advice about how to be a Muslim convert in America. As long as you know that going in, the book will be enjoyable.

Jul 19, Mia rated it did not like it. The operative word in the title is probably "young". Oct 30, Cara rated it it was amazing. I loved this book, as of course anyone could guess I would. I don't know why it took me so long to read it - maybe because I knew I would find a lot to relate to in it conversion to Islam, falling in love with, marrying, then eventually bringing to America a nice North African man, etc. It was nice to read the experiences of someone who has been through so many of the same things that I have but who writes a hell of a lot better!

One of the things I really like about this book which some of the non-Muslim reviewers here seemed to find annoying is that the author really offered no in depth explanation for her conversion to Islam. One of the hardest things about talking to people about Islam, as a convert, is that you constantly get asked by both Muslims and non-Muslims this question: why? It's not a question that it's even possible to give a satisfying answer to. Religious experience is a deeply personal thing, and trying to explain it to others in quantifiable terms even to those who share your faith is a frustrating and usually pointless endeavor.

I love that G. Willow Wilson has the confidence to say that this is what she felt and wanted and believed and so it is what she did, and that is that. Dec 31, Michael Austin rated it it was amazing Shelves: read-in I'm always suspicious when someone calls a book "indispensable. People do it all the time. But to the extent that books can be indispensable, The Butterfly Mosque is indispensable.

Especially to Americans and other Westerners. Especially now, when fair and decent people of all and no faiths have a moral imperative to do everything possible to head off the epic clash of civilizations that so many people on both sides of the divide seem determined to push us all I'm always suspicious when someone calls a book "indispensable. Especially now, when fair and decent people of all and no faiths have a moral imperative to do everything possible to head off the epic clash of civilizations that so many people on both sides of the divide seem determined to push us all into.

We have to find ways to understand each other better. The Butterfly Mosque is a good place to start. Willow Wilson, whose urban fantasy novel Alif, the Unseen is perhaps the best book of that genre I have ever read, writes her own story here, and it is, well, indispensable. After growing up in a thoroughly secular, atheist home and graduating from Boston University, Wilson found herself unable to accept the non-religion of her parents, setting her on a spiritual quest that eventually led to her pronouncing the shahadah before God and nobody else and becoming a Muslim, immediately after which she moves to Egypt to teach English and study her new religion from the inside.

This part of the book is wonderful, I thought, because it shows is how a very intellectual young person, who is also a complete religious free agent, approaches the free market of religious ideas. Without any cultural predisposition towards Christianity, she evaluates its claims on the same ground as those of Buddhism, Judiasm, Islam, and other major religions. Framed this way, she finds the Christian God too small for the God she envisions. Ideas like the Virgin Birth, and the embodiment of God as Christ, when viewed without any cultural predisposition towards them, do place God much closer to human beings than Islam does.

critique and feedback - the story of austin's butterfly - Ron Berger

And the idea of original sin seems fundamentally unfair. It is not at all obvious to me that somebody looking without any cultural or religious preconceptions would choose this view of God over others. And I understand both the intellectual power of the Islamic view of God and the tremendous rhetorical power, and beauty, of the Quran. I have experienced both in my own studies though I began from a starting place that never allowed me the kind of unfiltered religious choice that Wilson had.

The way that she describes her initial attraction to Islam, as an abstract philosophy and set of beliefs--is very attractive. More to the point, though, it makes it clear that her first conversion was to a set of ideas--a set of ideas with real beauty and power and poetry that Americans have almost no understanding of.

And we should. The second conversion in the story is much more difficult, because it involves real people and real cultures, both of which always mess up what is best in religious ideas. Wilson goes to Egypt and keeps her conversion secret, never attending Friday prayers, never going to mosques, and never acting on her faith publicly--until she meets and falls in love with Omar, a liberal Egyptian and a Sufi Muslim who speaks English fluently and acts as her guide when she first arrives.

See a Problem?

In time and this is much of the story they become engaged, and then married, and she finds herself absorbed into the fabric of an Egyptian extended family--and spaces where very few Westerners are ever allowed. In the process of telling the story, Wilson is very careful not to horribalize or romanticize her new culture. It is, like all human cultures, a complicated affair. And more than anything else, it is different in fundamental ways from American culture.

Some of the differences are religious, but many of them are not. There are different values and priorities that are troubling, comforting, oppressive, liberating, difficult, and beautiful all at once. Just like her home culture. Just like everyone's. But one thing that comes through very clearly throughout the narrative is that Islamic fundamentalism is much more of a threat to the kind of Islam she converted to--and to the Islam practiced by hundreds of millions of people in the world--than it is to anybody in the West. She rightly calls out Western journalists for not covering the many, many Muslim clerics who have issued fatwahs against terrorism, and "the difficult work the moderate opposition does to hold back the tide of Islamic extremism" Rampant Islamophobia and outrageous caricatures in the West play directly into the hands of the extremists by helping to convince Muslims to side with them against direct attacks on their shared culture.

We are doing everything that we can do to lose the war of ideas. And then we have G. Willow Wilson: a talented writer, journalist, and novelist who has converted to Islam and seen elements of Muslim and Arabic culture that very few Westerners ever will--and who can describe that culture to us in terms that we can understand, using prose that is both exquisite and clear. She can talk about the differences between both cultures without criticizing either--fully aware of both the beauty and poetry of both worlds.

That is the sort of thing that we should all consider a genuine service. And it is the sort of thing that we should all be listening to--which is what I mean by "indispensable. Aug 01, Ellen rated it really liked it. First off, I have to admit that the entire time I was reading this book, I was racking my brain to try to remember if I taught high school English to this student. She attended the school where I taught when I was there, and her name is very familiar. I've taught now for about 30 years, I've taught a number of students and that high school was a large one.

Her name is so familiar, but I'm thinking that whilst she was friends with some of my students, I didn't actually teach her. I loved re First off, I have to admit that the entire time I was reading this book, I was racking my brain to try to remember if I taught high school English to this student. I loved reading her memoir and I would have loved reading her high school essays. Islam is the religion that appeals to her more and more as she reads and studies.

When she travels to Egypt to teach English in Cairo shortly after graduation, she knows that it's a pivotal moment and, indeed, it is. She does convert to Islam and she soon meets Omar, the Egyptian she marries. But this book is more than merely her own personal memoir. She doesn't try to prosletyse; nor does she merely write about her own personal feelings.

What she does try to do is explain how she comes to terms with the culture shock that is natural in moving to another country says she who's done it herself : , viewing your native land from a distance again, I understand and, more importantly, the culture shock that results in West meeting East -- and dealing with the stereotypes and expectations that can exist on both sides.

They wanted her to change back into what she always had been. But she had wings. Earth is our chrysalis. On paper, a butterfly never dies. Isn't it strange? The saddest and deadest of things is yet so like the gayest and most vital of creatures? It grows with the wings of love and compassion. So I became a butterfly so you would never leave. It's obscene fluttering corrupted me into darkness.