My Chosen Words
by Ferial Imam Haque, Ph.D.

"I ask, 'Who am I today?'
A scientist, a chemist, a forensic scientist.
An activist or an artist or
A citizen of the global community...
This is the story of my life
And my unfinished dreams."

This autobiographical collection tells the remarkable story of Ferial Imam Haque, Ph.D. Haque was born in then-British India in the 1930s. She earned a Ph.D. in chemistry in Scotland at a time when women seldom pursued scientific careers. She immigrated to Canada, married, and raised a family, and has been involved since the 1970s with efforts to promote women's equality. Still living in Ottawa, she reflects on the challenges and joys of living in her adopted country. My Chosen Words depicts her journey and documents her views on women in science, love, marriage, family, the immigrant experience, and the challenges of aging. Mostly comprised of poems, with some prose narratives and essays, the collection is organized around themes such as "Family," "Seasons," and "New Canadian."

The collection conveys hard-won depth of soul. It tells a story of persevering through hardship and prejudice to forge a life of achievement, exceeding expectations and limitations often placed on women and immigrants. The writing is notable for sincerity and earnestness. Haque's Ph.D. research project—identifying a chemical she calls a "lemon-yellow compound"—is described with particularly vivid detail. Well-chosen photographs add to the narrative's impact. The poetry employs unusual images, metaphors, and linguistic play and the style is denotative and direct, as one might expect from a scientist. Moving from narrative to reflections on various topics, the second half of the book is somewhat less compelling than the first. A chronological memoir might more clearly convey the richness of the author's life experiences. Nevertheless, this book opens a door to understanding Haque's moving personal journey and embodies the gratitude that comes from a life lived fully.

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