The subtitle promises a dry analysis, but Mohammed delivers instead an intensely personal autobiography that mainly revolves around two themes: her demonic Islamist mother and the process of liberating herself from this mother by repudiating both the maternal and the Islamist bonds. As Mohammed, a Canadian of Egyptian heritage, explains about the latter:
First, I was a nonpractising Muslim, then I didn't believe in any organized religion, then I was spiritual but not religious, then I was agnostic, and then finally I identified as atheist.
The author barely mentions her two formidable family connections: She is the great-grandniece of Mohamed Naguib, the first-ever president (1953-54) in Egypt's history until he was shoved aside by Gamal Abdel Nasser; and she was married to and had a child by Essam Marzouk, a violent jihadi now thought to be either dead or rotting in an Egyptian jail. Fittingly, that marriage was pushed on her by a mother who herself lusted for the future son-in-law.
The shocking portrait of an Islamist mother leaves little to the imagination. Says that unnamed mother when the two argue over Mohammed's choice of clothing:
I pissed you out. You hear me? You are my urine. You are nothing but my bodily waste! I excreted you! You are just a turd that I should have flushed! You have no right to question me. You are nothing.
As this quotation suggests, the passage from Islamist childhood to an "unveiled" adulthood can be a harrowing one, and those who navigate it successfully become strong and resolute standard-bearers of their new way of life.
Beyond the affecting story of Mohammed's liberation stands a case study of one woman's slow and agonizing realization that, while living in the modernity of contemporary Canada, she inhabited a bubble of medieval prejudices and horrors. The reader will agonize at the slowness of this process, which appears to have taken about twenty-five years from start to conclusion, but the very length of Mohammed's evolution both enhances its credibility and offers important insights into this painful undertaking shared by so many others.