Cover Image: Unicorn

Unicorn

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Member Reviews

This caught my attention because the cover was so exuberant and vibrant alas that was a far as I got, I wasn't invested in the book and found it really difficult to read. Unfortunately another DNF for me.
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I never usually read memoirs for pleasure, but this book had me entranced by the first chapter.

Amrou tells, with great emotion and clarity, their story from the Middle East to the drag scene in London. The story is completely universal and is about embracing yourself in all your truth against all odds. It was funny, sad, heart wrenching, honest, positive, and informing. Amrou had an voice that pulls you in and wraps you up in a warm embrace.

Would definitely recommend this to anyone who wants to read an incredible true life story.
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This was one of my top two books of 2019. Amrou has written an astoundingly insightful about their journey to date. I couldn't believe they were so perceptive about the struggles they have experienced - until they mentioned their therapist. They must have an amazing therapist because they write with such clarity about the struggles they have encountered with their gender, sexuality, race and family. I honestly think everyone should read this book because Amrou writes with profound wisdom and humour about such a range of intersecting experiences. Their friend, Crystal Rasmussen, published Diary of a Drag Queen (also an outstanding read) around the same time and these two books couldn't be more different but are also equally infused with charm and heartbreak. If you haven't read either of these titles yet then run, run, run to feast your eyes on it.
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I quite simply loved this book! It had everything for me. Great writing, an extremely interesting story giving insight into a world of drag queens that I only know from the outside and from RuPaul and Pose on tv, also a heart felt call for all of us to open more and to judge less our fellow human beings. 

Amrou adores his mother but when he starts to experiment with wearing women’s clothes and wants to explore his sexuality with boys and men, his family reject him.

He is a strong and very courageous person and in spite of many many set backs he finds his path which surprisingly leads him back eventually to reclaiming his Muslim identity and also to reuniting with his mother.  He performs as Glamrou the drag queen inspired by his stylish exuberant mother and after the painful separation and rejection of years,  they both find new ways to accept each other as they are. 

The story takes us with him on many downward spirals, rejecting everything and everyone including himself. But life has a way of opening up paths to redemption too and Amrou has the spirit and the heart to start again and again and to follow his heart where it takes him. 

His honest description of his inner life – the perfectionism and the painful attempts to survive by obliterating his past, his language, his culture – is totally mesmerising. Here is someone who is prepared to tell the truth.  The episode with the fish tank is an example of this. He found a world that felt like home, devoted himself to it, learnt everything there was to know about it and finally, destroyed it.  This was hard to read. But I was totally hooked.

He thought going to Eton would help him be acceptable. But, “by the time I left Eton, I was nothing more than an unarmoured unicorn, with a blunt, weathered horn, wandering alone once more”

Read this book – it is funny, dazzling, heart-breaking and life enhancing.  It gave me hope and a renewed strength to trust both myself – however weird and unicorn-like I feel – and life. And even other humans. Let’s be kind to other humans and let them be kind to us. 

“Maybe every human being is a prophet in some way for someone else, guarding some sort of answer, from the gargantuan to the microscopic, holding a key to our coming closer to resolution”
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I wanted to read this book because I am a huge fan of drag in all forms, and I am generally a very strong believer that people should be able to be themselves, no matter what that self might be. You have to be true to it or you will never be happy. So I liked the idea of this book as a tale of someone powering through adversity and shining to become that magical unicorn. I have also wanted to see Denim, and in fact they have performed in my home town before but disappointingly I didn't get to see them.

Unfortunately, I found that the book just wasn't for me. I just found it difficult to get through, and just not what I imagined when I found the book and read the blurb. It isn't really about drag or gay culture as much as I expected, and it is more about the author's very personal feelings and history, from being a child until they go to university. I was expecting (or hoping) perhaps for a bit more insight into their life as a fully realised "unicorn" and performer and what that has been like. I also found it to be very long and quite repetitive. The author is obviously not a writer by trade, and that shows in the book.

Having said that, I fully support the author and I think they sound like an amazing person. I don't want to be disrespectful to the author at all, or minimise their journey and what they've been through. I am so glad that they found a way to find who they really are inside, and that they have been true to that no matter what has stood in their way.
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Amrou writes their story of growing up in a very traditional Muslim household with such warmth and wit, that even when things are tough and the story is sad, there's still a courage and a bravery that shines through. This is their first book and I really do hope that they write more, because their writing style is so engaging that I felt I was reading a story from a friend.

Going from such a traditional upbringing (and all the trappings that involved) to trying to find a place in a world where a non-binary Muslim Drag Queen could feel accepted was never going to be easy - especially during times when their family was not on board. The author documents their obsession with academic perfection, body fascism, encounters with homophobia in the gay community, shame, hypocrisy, sexual expression - but what could be a very sad, glum tale has a special sparkle to it - much like the titular animal.

This was a beautiful book, one I'm delighted to have discovered. Please read it!
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This book was a joy to read. The author has an amusing, eminently readable style, and their story is a fascinating one. I particularly enjoyed reading about their early childhood, but the timeline was a bit fractured later on - especially the jump from schooldays to launching a university drag night. It was a great insight into the joys and traumas of an identity very different from my own, and I was very happy that the author got to a place of love and peace with their family. I’ll definitely look out for their future work.

Thanks to NetGalley for the review copy
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Thanks to 4th Estate and Netgalley for my copy of this book. I love memoirs and really enjoyed reading this one. Amrou has been through a lot in his life and he writes very movingly about his childhood and the difficulties of being accepted (and of finding acceptance of himself) as a queer non binary drag queen from a Muslim background. Surprisingly funny in parts too.
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I was pleased to have been approved for this after hearing Amrou on the High Low. It was as fascinating as I hoped it would be and so readable, highly recommend.
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I wasn’t sure I would be able to read this book but it turned out to be very informative. Not only an insight into the life of a drag queen but the teachings of the Quran also. I felt for the author through all the various phases of his life.
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A heartbreakingly honest memoir detailing Al-Kadhi's quest to experience love and acceptance in its purest form, in a world which at every turn rejectes them.

The themes of family, religion, love,money, sex, gender, sexuality, racism, homophobia and mental health run throughout.

I was moved to tears, whilst reading about Al-Khadi's turbulent journey from a painfully anxiety ridden childhood and adolescence all the way through to present day as the Drag Queen persona Glamrou.

Their aching sense to belong and be loved, littered the pages so beautifully. I feel it a honour to be allowed inside Al-Kadhi world.

A massive thank you to @netgalley and @4thestatebooks for sending this to me in return for a honest review.

https://www.instagram.com/walshthereader/?hl=en
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A Brave and inspiring book showing the tumultuous journey of Amrou Al-Kadhi from a child in a traditional middle eastern Muslim family to a triumphant Drag artist, and an inspiring and talented writer (if this book is anything to go by).
The writing style is a t once hilarious and engaging, and makes for an emotional read. His struggles with accepting who he is and trying to ‘fit in’ with what his Muslim family and society expect him to be, make for a heart-breaking read and it is little wonder that his mental health suffered. But it is also full of wonderful, hilarious insights and is ultimately a story about the importance of being true to yourself in an often unforgiving world.
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An evocative and touching account of a boy coming to terms with the complicated aspects of his life, identity, family and society. I enjoyed the book and also the journey that Amrou undertook to finally find a peace within himself. I would recommend this to anyone interested in learning about the conflicts that arise when our inner and outer worlds are at odds. And how insidious homophobia can be. 

I only wish the book were a bit longer and more detailed. 

(Review copy from NetGalley)
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As funny as it is moving this is a remarkable book by an interesting person who is able to look at their life with empathy, honesty and bravery. So many layers to this book, what it is like to be a Muslim actor especially since 9/11, growing up muslim in a confusing world, realising you are a gay muslim in case the world wasn't confusing enough. As you might expect sometime step story is grim and there is violence and prejudice. Amrou writes honestly about how he navigated this even when it meant throwing people under the bus so he'd have an easier time. There is a wonderful chapter about his 'aquarium' phase where the idea of being a mermaid and how the sea is actually quiet queer was beautiful and magical. The chapters on Eton and Cambridge were a fascinating account of these privileged institutions by someone who was always seen as an outsider because of his ethnicity.
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Unicorn is the memoir of Amrou Al-Kadhi, a Muslim drag queen, as the title suggests! It begins with their childhood in a conservative Muslim family and follows them through their life as they learn to reconcile the different facets of their identity, Muslim and queer, through their drag persona, Glamrou.
The writing here is conversational and often funny, but the narrative isn't afraid to explore weighty topics. Al-Kadhi writes about how the intersections of their identity can be simultaneously freeing and restricting, and the fear of having to choose one aspect of oneself over another. Ultimately, the message here is that authenticity doesn't have to come at the expense of acceptance.
A really insightful memoir.
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Loved this - more books like this, please! Thanks to the publisher for allowing me to read a book by a non-binary drag queen. How far we've come in a short space of time (though still so much to be done!)
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Just turned the last page of this book and have mixed feelings. I loved it to begin with but towards the end found myself skim reading large chunks which allowed me to get the gist of things in order to finish the book. I felt that the author went to far into the religious and political elements towards the last third of the book and I felt preached at instead of being given an insight into his world. This is totally the authors right to do this however, his book, his rules and my choice to read it. The beginning of the book was very interesting, beautifully written with lots of humour on a compelling and heart wrenching topic.
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A hard and emotional read, yet strangely joyful too. 
The author is absolutely honest and so many times my heart broke for him. But I did enjoy his journey and thought that the reality/hardships were well written and with a dash of spirit. 
Many will agree this is an important book and many - anyone who has found themselves on the fringes of society or their families - should find comfort in it.
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A heartwarming, tear-jerking book about a subject that you don't really hear about. A great read and I would thoroughly recommend it.
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Let's just start off by saying that I am rubbish at make-up. I wear it about 3 or 4 times a year and, even then, you'd probably not notice. I just don't see the point (and I've got used to having slightly bald eyebrows...). I also have real problems with high heels and am inclined to fall off anything higher than an inch or so. I often joke that these are the reasons why I left Essex but they do not prevent me from admiring the artistry (and courage and sheer glory) of drag artists. I've never been on a space-ship but still enjoy science-fiction: I'm not going to allow my tendency to practical footwear and bald brows stop me from appreciating Amrou Al-Kadhi's book, a memoir of a Muslim drag queen.

As a small boy Amrou adored his* beautiful mother and had a happy, privileged and traditionally Islamic life. His twin brother spent more time with their father - they were the family sports fans - but he delighted in watching her chose outfits and make herself presentable in a world that judged people by appearances. But no-one can retain the innocence of early childhood and the family bonds become severely strained by Amrou's developing sexuality, his precocious intelligence and his inability to become the person he is sure his community wants him to be.  We follow him through school - where he ends up at Eton in an effort to replace his essential 'arab-ness' with something quintessentially British - and university - where academic excellence is sacrificed on an altar of hedonism. Through it all his joys - in friendships and scholastic achievement - are almost wiped out by self-loathing brought on by the knowledge that his way of life, no, who he really is, is wrong in the eyes of his family, his faith and his community. Drag, however, helps him to realise his worth as a human being and, by the end of the book, to have found acceptance from those who really matter to him.

*I know that I am not using Amrou's preferred they/their pronouns. I have the utmost respect for this but got totally lost on the grammar - a task for me to undertake for the future. Please feel free to offer advice (politely....)
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