At a time when young Muslim men are only mentioned in the media in relation to terrorism, it is extremely refreshing to hear the story of a young Muslim man who doesn't fulfil that stereotype. Manzoor's tale of growing up in Luton uses warmth and humour to describe his struggle to balance the demands of family life and culture with his personal hopes and dreams. He articulates with great honesty and accuracy the difficult relationship he had with his father and the experiences and pressures faced by second generation British Muslims.
The antidote to the trials and tribulations in Manzoor's home life arrives in the form of Bruce Springsteen and the enthusiasm with which he conveys this life changing discovery is inspiring to say the least. Springsteen's music acts as a healing balm, offering understanding and solace to a young man struggling to reconcile the expectations of his father with his ambitions. Islam and Springsteen may make an unlikely pairing, but Manzoor proves that, in his heart at least, they can sit alongside one another in harmony.
Manzoor's writing takes the reader on a journey that covers the entire emotional spectrum and leaves one feeling content in the knowledge that his battles, and indeed his father's battles before him to create a better life, were worth the pain and effort. Reading this book reminded me of my own relationship with my family and the journey that my parents have made from their homeland. It also made me feel less alone with my experience of being a second generation British Muslim.
This book won't only appeal to Muslims though. This is a story about growing up in an uninspiring English town, the complicated dynamics of family life, and the decisions and sacrifices one can make to influence the path that their life takes. Manzoor is certainly one home-grown Muslim we should be proud of.