Sister's Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud.

The Diverse Reader's Sister's Entrance by Emtithal Mahmoud Book Review

Title: Sister’s Entrance

Author: Emtithal Mahmoud

Genre: Poetry

Published: May 29, 2018

Publisher: Andrews McMeel Publishing

Total Pages: 130 pages

Topics Include: War, Immigration, Love, Family, Racism, Islamophobia and Life Experiences

Amazon Synopsis: Brimming with rage, sorrow, and resilience, this collection traverses an expansive terrain: genocide; diaspora; the guilt of surviving; racism and Islamophobia; the burdens of girlhood; the solace of sisterhood; the innocence of a first kiss.  Heart-wrenching and raw, defiant and empowering, Sisters’ Entrance explores how to speak the unspeakable. 

Emtithal Mahmoud is a poet and activist that wrote a book of poetry in early 2018. Mahmoud spoke on intense topics such as genocide, immigration, Islamophobia and finding the strength within yourself. The poetry makes the reader keep turning pages to explore the life of Emtithal Mahmoud and what she has been through. I decided to speak on my thoughts through this review and break down everything that happened in this book.

My favorite poem: Tower Two

“A night of waiting and

they didn’t come for my mother’s throat,

my sister’s hijab

A night of waiting and they didn’t take my father’s robes

Crush him once for his faith and once more for

his skin

A night of waiting and the president said we were


And the Imam cried for the towers and our flags

hung high over our doorsteps

And our families did not fear for our lives

And 300 girls did not disappear

And no one went to war

And the teachers didn’t treat me different

And the students didn’t keep their distance

And the man on the corner did not ask me if I

were a Christian

And the refugees did not cover the shore

And hundreds of thousands did not leave their homes

And Darfur did not go unspoken

And Syria did not go unnoticed

And the Congo, Ukraine, Egypt, Somalia

And young mothers were not detained

And the beaches did not fill the lifeboats

And the oceans did not fill with bodies

And the bombs and the people and the children,

the children,

the children

And my brother was not called a nigger

And the brother was not called a sand nigger

And a college boy did not reach under my sister’s scarf

to pull her hair

And no one threw a pig’s head at a mosque

coming for my head next

And no one crushed beer bottles against the walls

coming with marked bullets next

And the world did not call for our genocide

And a man did not call for our exile

And I did not change my hijab for protection

And the world did not fear the water

And no one called us progressive as in liberal

as in good as in tolerable

as in alive

And this hijab was not a death sentence

And this skin was not a death sentence

And refugees did not mean nothing

And Muslim bodies did not mean less

Not at first. The first 15 years left a sour taste in my mouth.”

My thoughts:

Sister’s Entrance By Emtithal Mahmoud is a poetry book that is written over the course of five chapters and 130 pages. I was given poetry about multiple topics such as war, family, immigration, religion, love and strength. It was refreshing to read something that spoke about someone that dealt with war and how it affected them. I want to begin talking about the elements that I enjoyed most about this book. Sister’s Entrance is a poetry book that anyone can learn from because of how the poet gave raw experiences of her life.

I learned about the war in Sudan and how people have to migrate to America through poetry. I was given a well-rounded understanding of Emtithal Mahmoud’s past and present experiences alongside her struggles and strength. The poetry was intense, emotional and spoke to me because of the language and subjects discussed. I was able to learn about death in her family. trying to find herself in a new country and the connection she has with her religion. Most of the poetry was lengthy and was able to give me a balanced story from Mahmoud’s life.

The book had chapters for the poetry and each chapter had a centered theme based on the title. I think the way that Mahmoud broke down her experience through poetry, the reader can hear her saying them out-loud as if it is spoken word. The structure and tone of the poetry impacted me while reading. I felt emotional attached to her experiences as she told them. The length of most of the poems seemed fitting for the topic of the poem. I was able to picture each experience in the poem because of the explicitness of the words she used. I did not want to put the book down because anytime I turned the page I learned something new.

There were a handful of poems that were not something that I got attached to because they were short and I could not get the fullness of what the poet was trying to say. My favorite poems from this book were the ones about genocide, war, Islamophobia, family and racism — which is basically the entire book. Mahmoud did not hold back in her poetry and it made the poetry even more captivating. This poetry book made me feel for the poet because of the hardships she spoke about in her poetry. Overall, the poetry book was well written and makes me want to read more from Emtithal Mahmoud.

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