How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?

by

Moustafa Bayoumi

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Lina’s strict Iraqi mother, who is horrified at her rebelliousness and sends her back to Iraq for a summer and then again for a year. She worked at the Iraqi embassy and then a thrift store to help support the family in the first years after they move to the United States. She dies suddenly just after Lina returns from her second trip to Iraq, just as the family is starting to get along for the first time.
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Maisa Character Timeline in How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?

The timeline below shows where the character Maisa appears in How Does It Feel to Be a Problem?. The colored dots and icons indicate which themes are associated with that appearance.
Lina
Arab American Identities Theme Icon
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
...After a flight to Jordan, a long bus ride, and a lecture from her mother Maisa, who demands she say nothing political, Lina ends up at her aunt’s beautiful villa, surrounded... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Foreign Policy Theme Icon
Arab American Identities Theme Icon
...to the United States so that her father can study for his PhD. Her mother Maisa works at the Iraqi embassy and brings her father to parties where “the necessary worship... (full context)
Racism, Discrimination, and Foreign Policy Theme Icon
...different groups by the time she gets to high school. But her fashion choices frustrate Maisa, who accuses her of “turning into a black person!” Lina starts smoking and wearing makeup—but... (full context)
Faith, Tradition, and Islam Theme Icon
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
Sophomore year, Lina gets into an argument with Maisa because she wants to go to the homecoming dance; her father agrees that she can... (full context)
Faith, Tradition, and Islam Theme Icon
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
After over a year, Maisa finally comes to bring Lina home from Iraq. She is shocked by her daughter’s new... (full context)
Growing Up and Self-Discovery Theme Icon
When she returns to the United States with Maisa, Lina’s family is living in Colorado, where her father works for the Federal Bureau of... (full context)