Publisher : SoHo Teen
Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary
Page Count: 288
Synopsis : Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear? (From Goodreads)
CW: Islamophobia, racism, threats, white supremacy, hate crimes
The minute I heard about this book my excitement for it went through the roof and I moved Heaven and earth to get access to it. I even offered a limb or two on twitter and a friend of mine came through and I finally had it in my hands at the start of November. I literally dropped all my plans and dived into it. And let me tell you, I can’t believe this is a debut, it’s brilliant, well executed and so so full of emotions. I honestly adored every bit and every aspect of this story.
The writing is simple and really easy to follow while carrying a punch of feelings. I wasn’t bored of it for one second and I thought it did a really good job fitting both the light AND the heavy parts of the story. The chapters are the right length and there are paragraphs that serve as chapters breaks and those added so much more to the story, they gave me actual chills because of how much mystery they held, they were chunks of thoughts that I didn’t know what to do with, like a little puzzle that made more sense the more I read.
Love, Hate and Other Filters is multilayered and tackles not just one but a few of the issues a muslim teenagers can face. Let’s start with the Islamophobia, which is made so clear from the synopsis. A terrorist Attack happens and that turns Maya’s life upside down and inside out. At first, I thought it took too long for that part of the plot to happen but then as I read on I realized that that has a purpose. The attack serves as the middle point between the Before and the After and that really shows the whole impact perfectly. How Maya started being targeted, how she lost her freedom, how it even destroyed her relationship with her parents.
And that’s the thing most people don’t know, when things like this get pinned on muslims they don’t only destroy our relationships with people outside the community but inside of it too, that fear creates tension which makes people say and do things they normally wouldn’t and hurt people they’re close with. It’s just the reality of things and I appreciated that so much. I appreciated how true it was, how raw and sincere it was while being very sensitive to the issue.
I fell in love with Maya‘s voice from the first paragraph of the book and I am not even kidding nor exaggerating. She has such a strong voice, funny, snarky but still super awkward when the opportunity shows itself. It was refreshing to see a muslim teen like her, she was relatable to the teen I was, a little bit lost in her faith, struggling between what she wants and what her parents want from her, but most of all having a dream and stopping at the face of nothing to achieve it. I know she won’t be relatable to all Muslims, I know she might even offend some but I loved her, related to her and that meant everything to me.
Her character development was so authentic and realistic, every emotions she felt hit close to home, from every little joy and achievement to the despair and helplessness she felt when everything came tumbling down. Not only that, but also, the path the author chose to take with the romance with Phil, her family life, her school life, all of it felt wholesome and the ending was just really hopeful the way it was. I adored that about it.
I felt like that ending showed that the story wasn’t about terrorist attacks or even romance but truly about Maya’s life and choices and how she handles what is thrown her way. Some of the decisions she makes are right, some are wrong but they’re all hers.
Special mention to Kareem because I honestly loved that guy so much, he had this wisdom that emanated from him, never judgmental, never condescending, he was always there for Maya whenever she needed with just the right words and it was nice to see a muslim guy in that kind of character, instead of the stern guy who doesn’t care about girls I’m used to reading about.
All in all, I loved Love, Hate and Other Filters and how it challenges some ways of thinking and stereotypes in very subtle ways while still being a wholesome and very engaging story.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Love, Hate and Other Filters? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.