Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion

In the vein of On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, an unforgettable story about female friendship and queer love in a Muslim-American community.

Razia Mirza grows up amid the wild grape vines and backyard sunflowers of Corona, Queens, with her best friend, Saima, by her side. When a family rift drives the girls apart, Razia’s heart is broken. She finds solace in Taslima, a new girl in her close-knit Pakistani-American community. They embark on a series of small rebellions: listening to scandalous music, wearing mini skirts, and cutting school to explore the city. 

When Razia is accepted to Stuyvesant, a prestigious high school in Manhattan, the gulf between the person she is and the daughter her parents want her to be, widens. At Stuyvesant, Razia meets Angela and is attracted to her in a way that blossoms into a new understanding. When their relationship is discovered by an Aunty in the community, Razia must choose between her family and her own future. 

Punctuated by both joy and loss, full of ’80s music and beloved novels, Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a new classic: a fiercely compassionate coming-of-age story of a girl struggling to reconcile her heritage and faith with her desire to be true to herself.

“Endearing, irreverent, and engaging. Bushra Rehman writes through the insightfully humorous lens of a sharp second-generation, Queens-bred Desi New Yorker. In Razia, she has created a unique character that is daring, hilarious, vulnerable and fierce. You will want to keep traveling with her long after the book ends.”
—DJ Rekha

“Rehman’s storytelling shares the elliptical grace of poetry. Her deeply sensitive protagonist, Razia, comes into sharp-focus like a shaken photograph, and Queens rears off the page in all its glorious vibrancy and complexity. I loved every moment I spent in Razia’s company. A stunning novel from a vital writer.”
—Karen Russell, author of Swamplandia! and Orange World

Roses, in the Mouth of a Lion is a brave, beauty-filled book that takes you by the hand and into Razia’s world. This book made me nostalgic for Queens and reminded me to take care of the girl who still lives inside me. I love this lush, lovely book—it deepens our understanding of the human experience and is a fiercely beautiful and honest ode to all girls becoming women.” 
—Ishle Yi Park, first woman poet laureate of Queens and author of The Temperature of This Water and Angel & Hannah 

“With a poet’s sensibility for language, Bushra Rehman has created a tender and multi-layered story of young Muslim women navigating a complicated and racialized world. This novel will break your heart open.”
—Daisy Hernández, author of A Cup of Water Under My Bed