An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice

The public knows Khizr Khan as the Gold Star father who raised the roof at the 2016 Democratic National Convention, but he pointedly concludes his literary debut, An American Family: A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, just as he's about to take the stage.

Khan grew up in Pakistan, the precocious son of poor farmers and the favored eldest of 10 children. After pursuing a law degree in Lahore, he took a job in Dubai for which he was overqualified; opportunities had been fewer in Pakistan, where he felt Islam was being exploited, becoming "a deliberate perversion of religion in order to maintain control over an illiterate and oppressed population." Later, after a stint in Houston, where he passed his citizenship exam, Khan attended Harvard Law School, earning "a reputation as the voice of the academic opposition." Still, he was living a quiet life outside Washington, D.C., when he became aware of Donald Trump's derogatory remarks on the campaign trail about immigrants and Muslims. When Hillary Clinton's people reached out, Khan felt it was his patriotic duty to take a stand.

The practical Khan is a remarkably agile storyteller. He elaborates on the thrill he experienced when he first read the Declaration of Independence; on America's appeal (the Fourteenth Amendment, efficiency, country music); and on his financial struggles (even with a Harvard law degree, he spent a few nights on a park bench). An American Family holds its own alongside other fine memoirs of immigration and would be an inspired addition to any college or high school syllabus. --Nell Beram, freelance writer and author

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