The Butterfly Mosque
by G. Willow Wilson
Atlantic Monthly Press, 2010. 304 pages. Nonfiction.
Willow Wilson was raised by academic parents to discount all things religious, but she always found herself deeply attracted to the spirituality found in Islam. Moving to Egypt to teach English after college simply brought her a peace she had never expected to find as she learns more about and eventually converts to Islam. The book talks in depth about her reasons for converting and describes life in a mainstream, even liberal, Muslim culture and how mainstream Western media has overlooked and misunderstood the beauties of life a regular Muslim experiences in their war against extremism and fundamentalism.
Wilson's conversion is an interesting story, as she attempts to find herself in a new religion and a new culture but still retain her American-ness, especially after she marries an Egyptian man. The writing sometimes left something to be desired; it would often get a little convoluted and metaphysical and the editing was, frankly, atrocious. But the story itself is fascinating and important, as I think that extremism and fundamentalism have become such headline news in the US that most Americans don't realize that they are not the majority of Muslims in the world. The book gives a good look at mainstream Islam in a very personal way.