Book Review: Undivided
A Muslim Daughter, Her Christian Mother, Their Path to Peace
By Patricia Raybon and Alana Raybon
A Muslim, a Christian, and a lapsed Catholic walk into a book review . . . For millennia, religious differences have been a font for humor and reflection, as well as a trigger for tension and war. But what if those tensions are within your own family, and the war turns out to be with yourself? In the enlightening nonfiction book Undivided, a mother and daughter try to bridge the chasm that was created when one of them converted to Islam. Patricia Raybon, who is a Christian, is an award-winning author who has written about faith for the New York Times and Newsweek. Her daughter, Alana Raybon, is a teacher who became a Muslim in her early 20s. In an honest, intimate glimpse into their family’s dynamic, they write back and forth to each other, each struggling: Alana, to explain her decision to join a religion that “filled my heart with truth”; and Patricia, to accept what to her feels like a dangerous abandonment. They are both angry and exhausted, but after the years of hurt and irritation, they have emerged to finally address their conflict head-on. While the book is the story of one family, it certainly calls to mind the larger issue of how much confusion and mistrust can exist between people of differing religions. If it’s this hard for two intelligent, spiritual, loving souls to connect, how can entire communities be expected to?
“I hope we can listen to each other, and come to terms with each other’s beliefs,” writes Alana. “I hope we can listen to each other with open hearts and begin to understand the passion for God that dwells deep in each of our hearts.” Let’s hope this type of healing dialogue spreads from family to family, and from nation to nation.