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The Marriage Act: The Risk I Took to Keep My Best Friend in America, and What It Taught Us About Love
     

The Marriage Act: The Risk I Took to Keep My Best Friend in America, and What It Taught Us About Love

by Liza Monroy
 

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After her traditional engagement to her high school sweetheart falls apart, Liza Monroy faced the prospect of another devastating loss: the deportation of her best friend Emir. Desperate to stay in America, Emir tried every legal recourse to obtain a green card knowing that his return to the Middle East—where gay men are often beaten and sometimes killed&

Overview


After her traditional engagement to her high school sweetheart falls apart, Liza Monroy faced the prospect of another devastating loss: the deportation of her best friend Emir. Desperate to stay in America, Emir tried every legal recourse to obtain a green card knowing that his return to the Middle East—where gay men are often beaten and sometimes killed—was too dangerous. So Liza proposes to Emir in efforts to keep him safe and by her side. After a fast wedding in Las Vegas, the couple faces new adventures and obstacles in both L.A. and New York City as they dodge the INS. Their relationship is compounded further by the fact that Liza’s mother works for the State Department preventing immigration fraud. Through it all, Liza and Emir must contend with professional ambition, adversity, and heartbreak and eventually learn the true lessons of companionship and devotion. This marriage that was not a marriage, in the end, really was.

The Marriage Act is a timely and topical look at the changing face of marriage in America and speaks to the emergent generation forming bonds outside of tradition—and sometimes even outside the law.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
11/18/2013
In this unconventional love story, author Monroy (Mexican High) explores the boundaries of commitment and the parameters that constitute a marriage. At age 21 in the year 2001, just following 9/11, Monroy finds herself down on one knee in a West Hollywood bar, proposing to her best friend Emir, a young, gay Muslim screenwriter who fears for his life should he be forced to return to his homophobic homeland (fictitiously entitled Emirstan). With his visa about to expire, Emir reluctantly accepts Monroy’s offer, though the young couple must hide their union from the author’s mother, a State Department Immigration Officer. Monroy wants to help Emir get a green card but she admits to ulterior motives as well: abandoned by her former fiancé, as well as by her father (her parents divorced when she was six), she seeks stability and her own kind of “asylum.” But she soon finds that the secrecy, deception, and complications of a green-card marriage to a gay man are challenging to say the least. Though at times the author’s actions are exasperating (she isn’t especially good at keeping secrets and seems overly attached to the idea of reuniting with a former lover), she writes and lives courageously. Monroy’s timely memoir rises beyond sex and politics, ultimately revealing that only two partners themselves can determine what makes their love and union authentic. (Jan.)
From the Publisher

“Despite its breezy style, Monroy’s provocative memoir offers more emotional food for thought than can possibly be digested in one sitting. After only reading the introduction, one might wish to remain quiet for a few minutes and ponder her use of the phrase gender-neutral marriage…As such, this phraseology perfectly embodies Monroy’s intentional marriage to a gay man. Though fraught with one psychological or legal time bomb after another, the marriage worked, despite the unimaginable odds. The book is bright. It’s chatty. But Monroy manages to deliver a hefty emotional wallop.” —Booklist, Starred review

“Through an absurdly beautiful act of devotion, which forced her to become an outlaw, in a time (now) and a country (ours) where the laws are cruel and outdated, Liza Monroy emerges as both an artist and a hero.” —Nick Flynn

“An irresistible blend of candor, humor, insight, lively prose, and plain old humanity, this roller coaster of a memoir about relationships, place, and displacement is so much fun to read!”—Phillip Lopate

“Liza Monroy, wise beyond her years, brilliantly portrays the highs and lows and loves of school life, the episodes we’ve all experienced and never forget. Spirited, harrowing, and utterly compelling, Monroy’s captivating voice will be with you long after you’ve finished reading.” —Oscar Hijuelos, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love

"Love is not a limited commodity. Sexuality enjoys limits far beyond heterosexual monogamy. And marriage is a promise limited only by those who make it. The Marriage Act doesn't just change the game when it comes to how we think about love and sex and marriage. It creates an entirely new one that we're all about to play." —Jenny Block, author of Open: Love, Sex, and Life in an Open Marriage

"This book is a blast…it's a political act, a buddy story, a love story, and a family saga gone beautifully and tenderly wrong. Read it."…Anthony Swofford, New York Times bestselling author of Jarhead

“Monroy questions the meanings of friendship, love, discrimination, and breaking boundaries. But her wicked sense of humor makes The Marriage Act a brisk, entertaining read. You’ll never think of ‘love and marriage’ the same way again.” —Leora Tanenbaum, author of Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation

“Liza Monroy’s coming of age story set in Mexico manages to be hot, hilarious, and heartbreaking—all at the same time. A stunning debut.” —Susan Shapiro, author of Lighting Up and Five Men Who Broke My Heart

“Liza Monroy has a magical voice, the kind that makes you want to read the next sentence and then the one after that to see what turn her writing will take next. She is observant, funny, and curiously wise about the culture we live and flounder in.” —Daphne Merkin, author of Dreaming of Hitler and Enchantment

“With The Marriage Act, Liza Monroy portrays a critical moment in our nation's troubled history of attempting to legislate love while also opening a space for future iterations of the institution that go beyond arguments of gender and into notions of friendship, passion, and dedication. A remarkable and generous book.” —Cris Beam, author of To the End of June: The Intimate Life of American Foster Care

“…she writes and lives courageously. Monroy’s timely memoir rises beyond sex and politics, ultimately revealing that only two partners themselves can determine what makes their love and union authentic.” —Publishers Weekly

"... a memoir that’s quite visceral and honest [...] She poignantly states her case for immigration reform with a larger focus on marriage equality as a whole." —Bust Magazine

Kirkus Reviews
2014-02-24
The story of a young writer who married her best friend to save them both. On Nov. 17, 2001, 22-year-old Monroy (Writing/Univ. of California, Santa Cruz; Mexican High, 2008) and her friend, Emir, were married in Las Vegas by an officiant dressed as Elvis. The ceremony's theatrical air couldn't have been more appropriate, for the pair was impersonating a straight couple in love in the service of facilitating permanent residency for Emir, a gay man from the Middle East who couldn't go home. Emir and the author, both aspiring screenwriters, had bonded years before while students at Emerson College. Both spoke three languages and had spent much of their childhoods outside the United States: Monroy accompanied her mother on her various posts in the Foreign Service, and Emir ventured to the States for the first time as an undergraduate international student. Following 9/11, Emir felt the pressure of heightened scrutiny of international students in the U.S., especially those of Muslim descent. Fearing her best friend would soon be deported to his home country, where others were routinely jailed and killed for being gay, Monroy proposed that Emir become her husband. At the time, the author was still smarting from having called off her engagement with a longtime beau, so the idea of platonic companionship proved attractive: "My initial thought process went something like this: romantic love is difficult and complicated. Marrying your gay best friend for his green card, by comparison, is not." Monroy then examines how naïve that line of thinking was, as the two found themselves repeatedly having to conceal Emir's sexuality from his homophobic father and their marriage from Monroy's immigration fraud–fighting mother, co-workers, prospective love interests and, especially, the immigration officer who conducted Emir's green card interview. An accessible if slightly self-indulgent account showing the complexity of immigrating to the U.S. alongside semiprofound reflections on the meaning of marriage.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781593765361
Publisher:
Soft Skull Press, Inc.
Publication date:
02/11/2014
Pages:
320
Product dimensions:
5.53(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.82(d)

Meet the Author


Liza Monroy is the author of the novel Mexican High. Her articles and essays have appeared in numerous magazines and newspapers. Her writing has also appeared in anthologies: Wedding Cake for Breakfast, One Big Happy Family, edited by Rebecca Walker, The New York Times’ Best of Modern Love, and Goodbye to All That: Writers on Loving and Leaving New York. She lives and writes in Santa Cruz, California, where she teaches writing at UC Santa Cruz.

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