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From a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family, this is a heart-breaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s fight to be true to themself My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, fearless and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody From a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family, this is a heart-breaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s fight to be true to themself My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, fearless and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody else dares to. Growing up in a strict Iraqi Muslim household, it didn’t take long for me to realise I was different. When I was ten years old, I announced to my family that I was in love with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The resultant fallout might best be described as something like the Iraqi version of Jerry Springer: The Opera. And that was just the beginning. This is the story of how I got from there to here: about my teenage obsession with marine biology, and how fluid aquatic life helped me understand my non-binary gender identity; about my two-year scholarship at Eton college, during which I wondered if I could forge a new identity as a British aristocrat (spoiler alert: it didn’t work); about discovering the transformative powers of drag while at university (and how I very nearly lost my mind after I left); and about how, after years of rage towards it, I finally began to understand Islam in a new, queer way. Most of all, this is a book about my mother. It’s the journey of how we lost and found each other, about forgiveness, understanding, hope – and the life-long search for belonging.


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From a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family, this is a heart-breaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s fight to be true to themself My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, fearless and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody From a god-fearing Muslim boy enraptured with their mother, to a vocal, queer drag queen estranged from their family, this is a heart-breaking and hilarious memoir about the author’s fight to be true to themself My name is Amrou Al-Kadhi – by day. By night, I am Glamrou, an empowered, fearless and acerbic drag queen who wears seven-inch heels and says the things that nobody else dares to. Growing up in a strict Iraqi Muslim household, it didn’t take long for me to realise I was different. When I was ten years old, I announced to my family that I was in love with Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone. The resultant fallout might best be described as something like the Iraqi version of Jerry Springer: The Opera. And that was just the beginning. This is the story of how I got from there to here: about my teenage obsession with marine biology, and how fluid aquatic life helped me understand my non-binary gender identity; about my two-year scholarship at Eton college, during which I wondered if I could forge a new identity as a British aristocrat (spoiler alert: it didn’t work); about discovering the transformative powers of drag while at university (and how I very nearly lost my mind after I left); and about how, after years of rage towards it, I finally began to understand Islam in a new, queer way. Most of all, this is a book about my mother. It’s the journey of how we lost and found each other, about forgiveness, understanding, hope – and the life-long search for belonging.

30 review for Unicorn: The Memoir of a Muslim Drag Queen

  1. 4 out of 5

    Paromjit

    Amrou Al-Khadhi writes a remarkably poignant, profoundly moving and unflinching memoir of his challenging life coming from an Iraqi Muslim conservative family to become Glamrou, an exuberant, confident, acerbic, gay drag queen, saying all the things that Amrou himself cannot. It begins with a performance in Edinburgh that is to prove pivotal in re-evaluating himself in terms of his religious faith, family and sense of identity, when a group of hajib wearing Muslim women in the front row result i Amrou Al-Khadhi writes a remarkably poignant, profoundly moving and unflinching memoir of his challenging life coming from an Iraqi Muslim conservative family to become Glamrou, an exuberant, confident, acerbic, gay drag queen, saying all the things that Amrou himself cannot. It begins with a performance in Edinburgh that is to prove pivotal in re-evaluating himself in terms of his religious faith, family and sense of identity, when a group of hajib wearing Muslim women in the front row result in him falling apart backstage. Amrou and Rafy are twin brothers, with Amrou growing up close to his beloved fashion conscious mother and all things feminine, and Rafy closer to his father, and all things masculine, such as football. In this memoir, he reflects, warts and all, on growing up constantly seeking the attention and love of his mother, the hostility to who he is and the policing of his sexuality by his family, attending Eton, and going to Cambridge, where he helped establish the drag troupe, Denim and the character of Glamrou, and his mental health issues. Amrou outlines his traumatic and damaging years at Eton with its racism, bullying, Islamaphobia, and some of its controlling and manipulative students that reinforced his personal sense of failure, worthlessness and fuel his growing self hatred, where his dreams to identify as a English gentleman are destined to burn to ashes right from the start. He portrays his experiences with drugs and chemsex, giving the reader a well thought out, painful but insightful look at what being a man entails, masculinity, and the gay community, with its well known homophobia, racism, the often problematic perceptions of drag queens, and the surrounding issues of power and control, and its cultural biases against Islam. Of particular interest to me was how marine biology helped Amrou to actualise his identity as a non-binary aquatic being, with a 'they' pronoun, and how quantum physics contributed to validating who he is. It is with a sense of relief that I read of how Rafy helped Amrou and his parents come to terms with each other and reconnect, I was particularly touched by how Amrou slowly becomes aware of the pressures that his mother faced with his father, and of the partriarchal system that deny women the right to be who they are. This is an inspirational read, smart, thought provoking, and fascinating at how Amrou shifts his perspectives on Islam, to see how it incorporated all that he is and belonged to him, an integral part of him as he comes to own it. I was so thankful to see how he returned to his family roots, in particular his mother, and came to understand her better. This is a memoir so worth reading, there is so much to learn from it, so much more than just being a gay muslim drag queen, ultimately it is about the complexities of what it is to be human. Highly recommended. Many thanks to HarperCollins 4th Estate.

  2. 5 out of 5

    K.S. Marsden

    Before he ever dreams of performing drag, Amrou has to survive the isolating life of being different. I received a free copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. This follows the story of Amrou, a boy who was born in the UK, raised in Iraq, before going to school in London, and can't understand why he doesn't fit in with his father and twin brother, in the strict gender identities imposed by the Muslim community. Amrou would rather spend time with his glamorous mother, and is entranced Before he ever dreams of performing drag, Amrou has to survive the isolating life of being different. I received a free copy from Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review. This follows the story of Amrou, a boy who was born in the UK, raised in Iraq, before going to school in London, and can't understand why he doesn't fit in with his father and twin brother, in the strict gender identities imposed by the Muslim community. Amrou would rather spend time with his glamorous mother, and is entranced by how only art can overcome the normal gender expectations. Growing up, he has to internalise his gender dysphoria, and attraction to other boys, as it has been made clear that being different is a sin, and he will bring great unhappiness to Allah and his family. This is all compounded by his painfully-self-destructive OCD and anxiety. No matter the outward appearance, of an obedient Muslim son, or a out-and-proud gay man; inwardly there is constant punishment and guilt and doubt. Amrou's unflinching autobiography is written by someone who is clearly intelligent, and with a good sense of humour. He explains quantum physics and aquarium care with the same openness and ease as Ru Paul and Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Even as he makes his way and starts to establish his own identity as a gay man and drag sensation, Amrou admits that he isn't perfect. He makes mistakes along the way, sometime hurting friends, but mostly hurting himself. Despite being judged constantly by everyone around him, Amrou rarely judges others. He accepts their prejudices, the varying levels of racism and homophobic comments. Perhaps because he doesn't know any better, after being brought up to think that he is the faulty individual; or because these people are just people. They are flawed, ignorant, and rude, but they aren't bad people. It's a very sorry reflection on what is still socially-accepted, in the modern UK. I don't read many memoirs, but I enjoyed this one. The author isn't a fabulously smooth writer, and their stories do jump about a bit. It's not always the easiest book to delve into, but I liked how it was styled as Amrou telling the stories of his life with self-deprecation and humour, despite the depressing content.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Krutika Puranik

    • r e v i e w • . "I find a great affinity with unicorns. They are the ultimate outsiders, destined to gallop alone. They share the body of a horse and are similar in form, but are a different nature, almost able to belong in an equine herd, but utterly conspicuous and irrefutably other.” - Amrou Al-Kadhi. "And what is acting besides a sublimation of childhood trauma in order to get an agent?" - Amrou Al-Kadhi. . Many months ago someone recommended this memoir in the comment section and it had been o • r e v i e w • . "I find a great affinity with unicorns. They are the ultimate outsiders, destined to gallop alone. They share the body of a horse and are similar in form, but are a different nature, almost able to belong in an equine herd, but utterly conspicuous and irrefutably other.” - Amrou Al-Kadhi. "And what is acting besides a sublimation of childhood trauma in order to get an agent?" - Amrou Al-Kadhi. . Many months ago someone recommended this memoir in the comment section and it had been on my mind ever since. Unicorn turned out to be exactly the way the title suggests. Vibrant, majestic and unique. Although I've read memoirs of queer men and of those from the LGBTQ community, what set this apart was the background of the protagonist. Being a Muslim man from an Iraqi heritage, he had to fight harder to come out of the closet. With zero support from his parents, Amrou faced a torrent of emotions throughout his adolescent and adult life. It was only when he donned the role of a drag queen that he finally found peace. It made him complete. . The book opens with Amrou performing in a drag show filled with fear when he spots a group of burqa clad women sitting in the front row murmuring something inaudible. To his surprise, the women shower him with praises, a gesture so uncommon amidst conservative muslim community. This episode warmed my heart and was such a wonderful thing to read. Being brought up in Bahrain and Dubai, Amrou shared a close bond with his mother who happened to be a glamourous diva but their relationship changes instantly when she realises Amrou's liking towards men. The more he tried to please them, the more he felt trapped. This pushed him to rebel against his parents which lasted throughout his entire teenage years. . Amrou's life goes through a rollercoaster ride as he goes to Eton, a prestigious British boarding school where he was bullied constantly. His desire to be accepted by his peers made him do things he didn't want to. To top it off, he was at the receiving end of Islamophobia. He was physically and psychologically abused for many years as he was on the lookout for love. It was only when he moved to the university that he discovered drag shows and was instantly comfortable in the makeup and costumes. He led shows and met fellow drag queens who formed a strong bond of trust. His relationship with his parents remained bitter for a long time but I was relieved to read how his mother accepted him in her own way. Amrou's story is as real as it gets. He writes in detail about how his confused filled teenage years triggered his obsessive need to score good marks at school. He sacrificed his sleep and food, pushing himself to the verge of a mental breakdown. Many parts of this memoir were difficult to read. The hate that he received for years and the fact that many young boys/girls like him are still being subjected to such harsh realities is a chilling and hurtful thing to accept. . Unicorn was a wonderful memoir but I often felt disconnected from the story. It may have to do with the narration because I couldn't stay focused for too long. He adds a touch of humour to ease the discomfort and to probably buff out the edges of sharp incidents. But I do however recommend this memoir to those who are seeking knowledge about what it feels like to be a queer person growing up in a hostile environment and to finally find acceptance within onself. Amrou is undoubtedly a Unicorn and this memoir proves why. . Rating : 3.9/5.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Srideepta⁷

    i-- spectacular, phenomenal, gorgeously written, emotionally packed, gripping, unique and i could go on and on. i was already teary eyed but when i read the last chapter?? a bitch shed some happy tears. note : it was so refreshing to take a look at a brown non binary person's struggles and everytime i turned a page, as a brown girl i felt so connected to the author and-- god I'm all over the place I'll just stop here. PLEASE READ THIS BOOK is all I'll say

  5. 5 out of 5

    Scott Baird

    I loved this. What an interesting life they have had.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Ayala Levinger

    I loved this book!! and also the fact that Amrou al-Kadhi is the narrator of their audio book was so special. Amrou has a very pleasant voice. Beautifully emotionally written memoir to cry and laugh with (sometimes at the same moment) love love love it.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

    One of the most beautiful books I have read. I have so much love for Amrou for sharing their story. Not only is this a beautiful book, but it is also fantastically written. Every time I opened its pages, it felt like I was sitting down on a couch with Amrou, having a glass of wine, and having one of those friendship chats about life and the universe. Deep, inspiring, tragic, hopeful, I found many parts of the universe in Unicorn's pages.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Endlesscribbles

    A courageous and realistic story that was told in genuine way of the reality of the Amrou Al-Kadhi's live and the people around him.. A good story that it is capable of invoking emotion. An NeGalley UK ARC was given to me for a honest review

  9. 5 out of 5

    Claire (Book Blog Bird)

    This book was awesome. It was terrifying and heartbreaking, but it was awesome. It's the story of a boy who grows up in the middle east and then at a public school in Britain and is gay. It's about intolerance and racism and bullying and toxic parents whose approval you would do anything to have. It's about drag and gay culture and the courage to choose your own family. Side note - the author makes Eton sound like the absolute cesspit of cunts I've always suspected it to be.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Dona van Eeden

    Heartbreakingly honest and moving memoir. I almost couldn't put the book down, I just wanted to get back into Amrou's life everytime i closed the book. Their memoir has enlightened me so much more on the Muslim religion and Islamic practices. Their struggle to accept things that they hate but eventually got them to where they are, the difficulties faced by the QTIPOC+ community, the brief pockets of acceptance in a world where you do not feel welcome... it's all there and ready to bring tears to Heartbreakingly honest and moving memoir. I almost couldn't put the book down, I just wanted to get back into Amrou's life everytime i closed the book. Their memoir has enlightened me so much more on the Muslim religion and Islamic practices. Their struggle to accept things that they hate but eventually got them to where they are, the difficulties faced by the QTIPOC+ community, the brief pockets of acceptance in a world where you do not feel welcome... it's all there and ready to bring tears to your eyes. Amrou writes with an amazing flow and knack for storytelling, which is difficult to do when your life is so full and when doing so much introspection. They wrote about their familial relationships, growing up in a restrictive religion, struggles with mental health, rejecting their entire identity as well as the slow process of stringing it back together, the illuminated memories that opened up a life that feels authentic. The reader even gets exposed to a mind enamoured by marine biology and quantum physics, which greatly expanded my love and knowledge on the topics. I left so much out - this book is imposible to summarise but an absolute treat to read, so do yourself a favour. Some quotes that will stay with me: "Have you ever seen or heard something - a film, a painting, something fleeting out of a car window, a song or a sound - and felt a sudden emotional clarity, as if whatever you've just encountered has always been a part of you, and in that moment, both parts have finally been reunited?" "It was one of those moments when you see something new and it ignites a fire in you, and you think, 'no matter what anyone says, this is what I want. And I am going to do whatever I need to be part of this.'" "At sixteen I wanted not only a place to belong to, but a history; a tried and tested narrative that bore none of the chaos of my own." "Once I realised that the laws of reality were merely a construct, at odds with the behaviours of the subatomic particles that actually comprise reality, then it struck me that surely all constructed notions of gender, racial hierarchy and identity were also imprisoning impositions. I was made up of trillions upon trillions of subatomic particles that basked in their multiplicity, existing as many things and in many places at once, and all the anxieties that had come to govern me came from restricting their natural behaviours."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Susan Hampson

    You would think that growing up in a family where he lacked for nothing would bring with it a perfect childhood but what Amrou needed more than anything was acceptance for who he was and living in an Iraqi Muslin household made that impossible. Amrou tells his story from childhood openly, honestly, with barbs and wedges that wounded and grew wider as the years went on. From early years Amrou knew that he was different from other people but his innocence in sharing his feelings and thoughts ruptur You would think that growing up in a family where he lacked for nothing would bring with it a perfect childhood but what Amrou needed more than anything was acceptance for who he was and living in an Iraqi Muslin household made that impossible. Amrou tells his story from childhood openly, honestly, with barbs and wedges that wounded and grew wider as the years went on. From early years Amrou knew that he was different from other people but his innocence in sharing his feelings and thoughts ruptured family harmony, costing him dearly of the closeness that he had shared with his mother. His twin brother went places with their father but Amrou had preferred shopping expeditions with his mother and watching her dress up and apply makeup. He learned a lot from her. So many times he tried to fit into his surroundings. But because he thought perfection would bring acceptance with his peers, he strived to be perfect at what he did. His compulsion was heartbreaking. At times it felt more like he was Rapunzel so isolated from everyone, especially through his early University days. I admire Amrou so very much from reading his story, so very brave and courageous seeking to be loved for who was is not what others wanted him to be. I thought this would be a light-hearted read but I had been wrong, it was so much better. I loved the rawness and honesty, warts and glamour. I wish to thank NetGalley and the publisher for an e-copy of this book which I have reviewed honestly.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Rhi

    Raw, honest & true 💕. Raw, honest & true 💕.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Rachel Quinlan

    Interesting insight into a world I knew nothing about. Unsettling at times, heartbreaking at times, how hard life can be because people are being forced to fit into stereotypes that they’re not comfortable in. One persons struggle to find and accept themselves for who they are. I laughed, I cried, although I got a bit confused with the quantum physics!

  14. 4 out of 5

    Anna Morgenstern

    Wow! "Unicorn" is both heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. This astounding memoir gives a voice seldom heard, of a Queer, Drag Queen Muslim non-binary person. It managed to break my heart one moment and the next, swell with happiness. I cannot stress enough how important this read is. TW: homophobia, sexual assault.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    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 se 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.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Zoe Bell

    This book is a fantastic read. The unicorn on the front had me convinced this would be a light, slightly superficial read and I would not have chosen it if it weren't for the book club. The read I followed was a fascinating insight into gender, gender identity, Muslim faith, patriarchy, parenting and there is a huge amount to learn from it. It is honest, amusing, interesting and hugely insightful.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Barbara

    I find it very hard to review autobiographies. It's all too easy for criticism of a book to look like criticism of the person and their life and that's not what I intend. I just found this book to be a bit misleading. There didn't seem to be enough about life as a 'Muslim Drag Queen' to justify the title. I read in ebook format (via Borrowbox) and was surprised to get to the end and find no photographs at all. Perhaps I was unrealistic to expect a bit more of the glamour of Glamrou and less of t I find it very hard to review autobiographies. It's all too easy for criticism of a book to look like criticism of the person and their life and that's not what I intend. I just found this book to be a bit misleading. There didn't seem to be enough about life as a 'Muslim Drag Queen' to justify the title. I read in ebook format (via Borrowbox) and was surprised to get to the end and find no photographs at all. Perhaps I was unrealistic to expect a bit more of the glamour of Glamrou and less of the 'poor me' childhood. My bad, as they say. If it wasn't about being a Muslim drag queen, then what was it? Mostly a lot about life as an OCD perfectionist and about fighting with his unsupportive family and parents. His privileged childhood lacked only acceptance of his sexuality and his parents were horrified that their little boy had turned into such a monster. Like many young people, Amrou spent a lot of his life feeling like an outsider, trying way too hard to fit in (mostly with Eton toffs who probably weren't worthy of his efforts) and attempting to come to terms with a sexuality that was so at odds with his religion. As 'misery memoirs' go, this is no Angela's Ashes. As a tribute - twisted perhaps - to his much-loved mother, it's contradictory and complex. When your mother is the living embodiment of the type of woman that many drag queens aspire to be, it's a kick in the teeth that she can't accept her son wants some of that. There's a deeply inciteful passage near the end where Amrou's mother explains that she can't understand why anybody lucky enough to be born a man would want to swap that for being a woman. That's one of the points where the penny drops, and lots of unpleasant things make sense (but are not, of course, to be forgiven). If the book had been either 'My cross-cultural gender identity conflicted childhood' or 'Life as a fabulously extravagant drag queen', I suspect there's plenty of material to fill two volumes. However, for me, there wasn't enough of the 'Muslim Drag Queen' and rather too much of the bitter little boy looking for other people to blame. As an aside, I loved the tropical fish tank as a metaphor for Amrou's teen ambitions and conflicts.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Laura

    Brilliant! Amrou gives the reader a really good insight into what it's like to be a Muslim in the LGBTQ+ community. I think this is quite an interesting read, especially for those of us who are white and cis in said community. Intersectionality is so important in all marginalised groups and Amrou highlights that so well without it feeling non-fiction. Interestingly, this book also made me think about my own childhood and how it's impacted me as an adult. I identified with quite a few of Amrou's e Brilliant! Amrou gives the reader a really good insight into what it's like to be a Muslim in the LGBTQ+ community. I think this is quite an interesting read, especially for those of us who are white and cis in said community. Intersectionality is so important in all marginalised groups and Amrou highlights that so well without it feeling non-fiction. Interestingly, this book also made me think about my own childhood and how it's impacted me as an adult. I identified with quite a few of Amrou's experiences despite not being Muslim myself and I think that's quite a powerful thing. Also, Amrou sounds fab and I, for one, would love to be their friend. My only complaint is I wanted more.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Aisha Ayoosh

    This book started off a little over dramatic for my liking and I thought to myself, “I hope this book will not be a huge Muslim / Islamic bashing monologue”. Turns out it wasn’t. Reading Amrou’s painful journey of trying to find a sense of belonging is something I’m sure we all can reflect on at some point in our lives. What I enjoyed most about this book was finding solace in being Muslim and living it on your terms. Islam is supposed to be diverse, diverse in people, culture and in thinking. Y This book started off a little over dramatic for my liking and I thought to myself, “I hope this book will not be a huge Muslim / Islamic bashing monologue”. Turns out it wasn’t. Reading Amrou’s painful journey of trying to find a sense of belonging is something I’m sure we all can reflect on at some point in our lives. What I enjoyed most about this book was finding solace in being Muslim and living it on your terms. Islam is supposed to be diverse, diverse in people, culture and in thinking. Yet we are made to believe (mainly growing up from my mother, my father was of the total opposite opinion) that it’s regressive, subjugating and difficult. Any institution that comes off this way can only chase you away. Is it unsurprising people often rebel in the worst ways when you’re made to feel chained up physically and mentally? I’ve had to realise by myself and conversations with my father (RIP) that Islam is really easy. It’s a way of life. Make it what you want, you can make it fit you. It always will. This really resonates with what Amrou was going through, (he has been through much worse tbh) you can belong... and belong on your terms!! Faith is personal! I repeat that over and over again. We are not in this world to police over one another, but support each other. 💕

  20. 5 out of 5

    Claire Booksnink

    My actual rating for this is 4.5⭐️ so close to getting that 5 and the only reason it didn’t get the 5 is because I wanted more. Amrou laid his heart out in this autobiographical treasure of a book written in the first person giving you an insight in to his life, Islam, a crazy coke fuelled time in his life and then obviously his love and life in drag. This book at times was so heartbreaking to think that Amrou had felt misplaced for a large portion of his life and the effects it had on him were ha My actual rating for this is 4.5⭐️ so close to getting that 5 and the only reason it didn’t get the 5 is because I wanted more. Amrou laid his heart out in this autobiographical treasure of a book written in the first person giving you an insight in to his life, Islam, a crazy coke fuelled time in his life and then obviously his love and life in drag. This book at times was so heartbreaking to think that Amrou had felt misplaced for a large portion of his life and the effects it had on him were harrowing. This book was so well written and Amrou certainly knew just how to hit you in the feels. I think a lot more people need to be picking this up! I loved it. Would like to thank Amrou Al- Kadhi for spilling you life in to such a unique book. I was dubious at the start of the read but I really did love it and I look forward to a possible sequel showing how you have expanded in the drag world. Thank you so so much

  21. 4 out of 5

    J Wells

    I received this book in a box of ARC's and the cover caught my attention first. I enjoy memoirs that let me get to know people through their raw and honest lives. Amrou definitely does that. Their life had the highs and lows that make you laugh and cry at the same time. I will say that the end of the book is the best part, the relationship between Amrou and his mother is easily the overarching theme of the book. When they both realize how their entire lives intertwined to get to the moment when I received this book in a box of ARC's and the cover caught my attention first. I enjoy memoirs that let me get to know people through their raw and honest lives. Amrou definitely does that. Their life had the highs and lows that make you laugh and cry at the same time. I will say that the end of the book is the best part, the relationship between Amrou and his mother is easily the overarching theme of the book. When they both realize how their entire lives intertwined to get to the moment when they are in the restaurant finally accepting each other is what makes life worth it. I looking forward to seeing their episode on Little America.

  22. 4 out of 5

    yenni m

    This book was the September pick for both shelter book club and queer box. I had two months of book club extravaganza but the same pick, for a book I didn't enjoy or finish. Maybe related to the pandemic peace and quiet I'm enjoying. The book was very loud and I backed away when Eton dreams (ew) were being lived out. I really liked reading about British-iraqi life, Muslim household, mum relationship but it was wrapped up in so so much that. The kind of stuff that makes me leave a party without s This book was the September pick for both shelter book club and queer box. I had two months of book club extravaganza but the same pick, for a book I didn't enjoy or finish. Maybe related to the pandemic peace and quiet I'm enjoying. The book was very loud and I backed away when Eton dreams (ew) were being lived out. I really liked reading about British-iraqi life, Muslim household, mum relationship but it was wrapped up in so so much that. The kind of stuff that makes me leave a party without saying goodbye. That's not often at all, so this party was very special. I wish them well, they got published, live on and do your thing, Amrou

  23. 4 out of 5

    Krystyna Murray

    One of the most moving, thoughtful and eye opening works of nonfiction I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. I listened to this one, read by Amrou, on Audible and it was an immersive & truly eye opening experience. I’ll definitely be buying a physical copy of my own as soon as the paperback comes out, so that I can read it again myself. One of the most moving, thoughtful and eye opening works of nonfiction I’ve ever had the pleasure of consuming. I listened to this one, read by Amrou, on Audible and it was an immersive & truly eye opening experience. I’ll definitely be buying a physical copy of my own as soon as the paperback comes out, so that I can read it again myself.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sophie Johnson

    I saw a lot of myself in parts of this book which made it particularly interesting to see where Amrou progressed to throughout and following university. I would have personally loved it even more if there was more discussion of this (then again this could also just be me projecting the unrealistic desire for a clearly resolved 'happy ending')

  25. 5 out of 5

    Meghan Betts

    I'm really thankful to ShelterBox book club for giving me the opportunity to read this book, and for sharing such a diverse selection of literature with the community. Amrou's memoir was eye opening, heartbreaking, funny and educational. They touch on so many different aspects of their life and how they intertwine, and offer new perspectives to the representations most commonly seen and heard here in the West. I'd definitely recommend this book!

  26. 5 out of 5

    thewoollygeek (tea, cake, crochet & books)

    A powerful read, very heavy at times, but such an amazing life to read about. Completely inspiring and although sometimes hard to read with such powerful issues, also very hard to put down. Inspirational Thanks to netgalley and the publisher for a free copy for an honest opinion

  27. 4 out of 5

    Elias

    It feels kinda weird to rate someones life so instead I'm just gonna say that this was a very nice listen and I'm very grateful that I got the opportunity to get to know the fantastic person that Amrou Al-Kadhi is

  28. 5 out of 5

    Fern Adams

    Hard to decide how many stars to give this one... ‘Life as a Unicorn’ is the autobiography of a drag queen originally from Iraq but who also grow up in the UK. It’s about growing up, trying to find out where you belong, being an outsider and the turmoil that all of this can bring. It’s sometimes funny, sometimes sad. I quite like how this was written like a conversation, as if Amrou was speaking directly to the reader about their experiences. An interesting insight

  29. 5 out of 5

    Em Robinson

    An absolutely amazing and inspiring read. The section comparing Amrou's gender to a magical, free, everchanging aquarium struck a nerve in my little nonbinary heart.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Catriona Simpson

    Amazing book! Amrou is a fantastic writer and the book is beautiful and vulnerable. Sad in places but overall uplifting. An account from a queer person of colour gives an eye opening and different perspective.

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