The Girl From Foreign

The Girl From Foreign

by Sadia Shepard

Gail Reid: The Girl from Foreign is Sadia Shepard's memoir of her Fulbright year spent in India. What makes this story unique and engaging is the author herself. Ms. Shepard, a graduate school documentary film-maker, was raised in the U.S. by a Muslim mother, a Christian father, and a Muslim grandmother born Jewish. Before her beloved Nana dies, she urges Sadia to visit her birthplace among the Bene Israel, a Jewish community in India. What ensues is a journey through India, Pakistan and the United States in an effort to discover the author's heritage, explore the issues of belonging, and capture the Bene Israel community, most of whom have emigrated to Israel. You might expect a film-maker to have excellent visual skills in describing different sights and sounds but the author succeeds equally in writing about observations and feelings. This was an insightful read.
Rating: ****

Judy Stanton: This was an ORT book club read, so I expected to see some reviews online. I missed the discussion, but really enjoyed the book. The author comes from an Indian family, her mother is Muslim, her father is Christian, and her Nana, to whom she is very close, reveals to her that she was born Jewish. She asks Sadia to go back and visit her homeland. Sadia's story takes the reader on that journey with her, visiting small villages, Bombay, Pakistan, family, ORT schools and new friends. Her search for "self," for "home," and for her religious beliefs is a journey on which Sadia invites the reader along. She shares her issues of belonging and the ups-and-downs of personal and family relationships. The photographs interspersed through the story made me feel like I was reading someone's diary and seeing that person as their lives changed over the years. A well-written, compelling read.
Rating: No Rating

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