This Is What America Looks Like

My Journey from Refugee to Congresswoman

May 2020 9781787383418 320pp
EU Customers


Ilhan Omar’s career is a collection of historic firsts: she is the first refugee, the first Somali-American and one of the first two Muslim women to serve in the United States Congress. Against a xenophobic and divisive administration, she has risen to global fame as a powerful voice in the Democratic Party’s new progressive chorus of congresswomen of colour.

This Is What America Looks Like is a tale of the aspirations, disappointments, successes and surprises in the life of an immigrant and Muslim in the US today. This is Omar’s story told on her own terms: from a childhood in Mogadishu and four long years at a Kenyan refugee camp, to her arrival in America—penniless and speaking only Somali—and her triumphant election to the US House of Representatives.

In the face of merciless slander and constant attacks from opponents in both parties, Omar continues to speak up for her beliefs. Courageous, hopeful and defiant, her memoir is marked by her irrepressible spirit, even in the darkest of times.


‘A genuinely inspirational memoir … [This is an] astonishing story.’ — The Guardian

‘Ultimately, the book offers a moving account of a fierce, fearless woman who is ready to take her place in the halls of power and represent the kind of America – as the title of the book indicates – that Omar looks like.’ — The Irish Times

‘[A] memoir that is both vulnerable and extremely powerful … Omar reminds us all of what it means to fearlessly strive for a better life, a better nation, and a better world.’ — Booklist (starred review)

‘By any measure, Omar’s trajectory is dramatic and remarkable … Omar is by turns fierce, self-deprecating, and confident, and … has produced a smoothly readable narrative. No matter a reader’s personal politics, Omar’s life should serve as an inspiration.’ — Kirkus (starred review)

‘Omar’s book gives an insight into one of the likely future leaders of Democratic politics.’ — The New Statesman

‘Polished and frequently poignant, this memoir confirms Omar’s status as rising Democratic star.’ — Publishers Weekly

‘[A] rich memoir… This book needs to be read and widely circulated.’ — The Muslim World Book Review

‘Rep. Ilhan Omar is not just pushing America to live up to its best ideals—she’s showing us how the struggle for inclusion and solidarity can transform our communities in the here and now. This book is a gripping, wonderfully frank account of a remarkable political journey that is just getting started. As dazzling as its author.’ — Naomi Klein

‘Ilhan has been an inspiring figure well before her time in Congress. This book will give you insight into the person and sister that I see—passionate, caring, witty, and above all committed to positive change. It’s an honour to serve alongside her in the fight for a more just world.’ — Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

‘Ilhan Omar has a quintessentially American story, told beautifully in the pages of this book. In the House, Ilhan is an eloquent spokesperson for her point of view. I am grateful that her journey brought her to us.’ — Nancy Pelosi, Speaker of the US House of Representatives

‘Congresswoman Ilhan Omar is a fearless, pioneering badass with a titanium backbone, and her memoir is everything she is, in addition to being a rich, witty, crackling good read.’ — Dave Eggers, author of The Monk of Mokha and The Captain and the Glory

‘A truly brave book from an extraordinary American.’ — Jose Antonio Vargas, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and author of Dear America: Notes of an Undocumented Citizen

‘Ilhan Omar has a gift for crossing all boundaries, from religious and cultural to political and personal. My world is bigger after reading This Is What America Looks Like. I recommend it.’ — Gloria Steinem

‘This book is a treasure! Omar has gifted us with a perfect memoir: reflective without being self-indulgent, intellectual but still passionate, pragmatic yet brimming with hope. This book is a desperately needed reminder that the type of world, and leadership, that we deserve is closer than we think.’ — Marc Lamont Hill, author of Nobody: Casualties of America’s War on the Vulnerable, From Ferguson to Flint and Beyond

‘This beautiful book is a glimpse into the life of a woman I admire, respect and love so fiercely. Ilhan, you reaffirm that we belong everywhere and so do our stories.’ — Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley

‘A powerful and inspirational story that demonstrates the need for representation in government that reflects the diversity of our nation.’ — Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib

‘Omar renews my faith in America. Her journey from refugee to politician is a story of courage, faith, and tenacity. Ultimately, she inspires us to be more human. The America I love looks like this.’ — Sandra Cisneros, author of The House on Mango Street

‘Ilhan Omar writes the quintessential American story of struggle, resilience, and transformation. This is What America Looks Like provides us a powerful and necessary voice during uncertain times.’ — Erika L. Sánchez, author of Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter



Ilhan Omar became the United States' first Somali-American legislator in 2016 when she was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives. Two years later she was elected to Congress as the Representative for Minnesota’s 5th district. She is a mother of three and tweets as @IlhanMN.

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