P.S I Still Love You – Even the sisterhood couldn’t save this one for me

PS I still love you

Series: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before #2

Publication date : May 26th, 2015goodreads

Publisher : Simon & Schuster

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 337

Synopsis : Lara Jean didn’t expect to really fall for Peter.
She and Peter were just pretending. Except suddenly they weren’t. Now Lara Jean is more confused than ever.
When another boy from her past returns to her life, Lara Jean’s feelings for him return too. Can a girl be in love with two boys at once?
In this charming and heartfelt sequel to the New York Times bestseller To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before, we see first love through the eyes of the unforgettable Lara Jean. Love is never easy, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so amazing.
(From Goodreads)
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Exit West – A Discussion around War and the Immigrant Crisis

Exist West

Publication date : March 2nd, 2017

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Publisher : Hamish Hamilton

Genre :  Adult | Literary Fiction

Page Count: 229

Synopsis : In a city swollen by refugees but still mostly at peace, or at least not yet openly at war, Saeed and Nadia share a cup of coffee, and their story begins. It will be a love story but also a story about war and a world in crisis, about how we live now and how we might live tomorrow. Before too long, the time will come for Nadia and Saeed to leave their homeland. When the streets are no longer useable and all options are exhausted, this young couple will join the great outpouring of those fleeing a collapsing city, hoping against hope, looking for their place in the world . . . (From Goodreads) Continue reading

We Are Okay – A Girl Navigating Loss, Grief and their Aftermath

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Publication date : February 14th, 2017

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Publisher : Dutton Books for Young Readers

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 356

Synopsis : You go through life thinking there’s so much you need…
Until you leave with only your phone, your wallet, and a picture of your mother.

Marin hasn’t spoken to anyone from her old life since the day she left everything behind. No one knows the truth about those final weeks. Not even her best friend, Mabel. But even thousands of miles away from the California coast, at college in New York, Marin still feels the pull of the life and tragedy she’s tried to outrun. Now, months later, alone in an emptied dorm for winter break, Marin waits. Mabel is coming to visit, and Marin will be forced to face everything that’s been left unsaid and finally confront the loneliness that has made a home in her heart. (From Goodreads) Continue reading

Saints and Misfits – A Much needed discussion on Sexual Assault

Saint and Misfits

Publication date : June 13th, 2017

goodreads

Publisher : Simon & Schuster

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 328

Synopsis : How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?

Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box. And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.

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Love, Hate and Other Filters – A Muslim girl faces Islamophobia, love and her Dreams

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Publication date : January 16th, 2017goodreads

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)

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Meet Cute – Meet Quite the Disappointement (for me)

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Publication date : January 2nd, 2018goodreads

Publisher : HMH Books for Young Readers

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary (mostly)

Page Count: 319

Synopsis : Whether or not you believe in fate, or luck, or love at first sight, every romance has to start somewhere. MEET CUTE is an anthology of original short stories featuring tales of “how they first met” from some of today’s most popular YA authors.
Readers will experience Nina LaCour’s beautifully written piece about two Bay Area girls meeting via a cranky customer service Tweet, Sara Shepard’s glossy tale about a magazine intern and a young rock star, Nicola Yoon’s imaginative take on break-ups and make-ups, Katie Cotugno’s story of two teens hiding out from the police at a house party, and Huntley Fitzpatrick’s charming love story that begins over iced teas at a diner.
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Tash Hearts Tolstoy – Girl meets newfound fame, family and romance

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Publication date : June 6th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Simon & Schuster

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 367

Synopsis : After a shout-out from one of the Internet’s superstar vloggers, Natasha “Tash” Zelenka finds herself and her obscure, amateur web series, Unhappy Families, thrust into the limelight: She’s gone viral.
Her show is a modern adaptation of Anna Karenina—written by Tash’s literary love Count Lev Nikolayevich “Leo” Tolstoy. Tash is a fan of the forty thousand new subscribers, their gushing tweets, and flashy Tumblr GIFs. Not so much the pressure to deliver the best web series ever.
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Dear Martin – The type of story the world needs more of.

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Publication date : October 17th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Crown Books for Young Readers

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 224

Synopsis : Justyce McAllister is top of his class, captain of the debate team, and set for the Ivy League next year—but none of that matters to the police officer who just put him in handcuffs. He is eventually released without charges (or an apology), but the incident has Justyce spooked. Despite leaving his rough neighborhood, he can’t seem to escape the scorn of his former peers or the attitude of his prep school classmates. The only exception: Sarah Jane, Justyce’s gorgeous—and white—debate partner he wishes he didn’t have a thing for. Continue reading

When Michael Met Mina – A Necessary Discussion on Islamophobia and Racism

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Publication date : July 28th, 2016goodreads

Publisher : Pan Macmillan Australia

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 354

Synopsis : Before Mina, my life was like a completed jigsaw puzzle but Mina has pushed the puzzle onto the floor. I have to start all over again, figuring out where the pieces go.
When Michael meets Mina, they are at a rally for refugees – standing on opposite sides.
Mina fled Afghanistan with her mother via a refugee camp, a leaky boat and a detention centre.
Michael’s parents have founded a new political party called Aussie Values.
They want to stop the boats.
Mina wants to stop the hate.
When Mina wins a scholarship to Michael’s private school, their lives crash together blindingly.
A novel for anyone who wants to fight for love, and against injustice.
  
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

When Michael Met Mina

Content Warning: Islamophobia, racism.

(No Spoilers)

This was hands down the most difficult book I’ve had to read in my life. It’s just too personal and real to be an easy read, it hit too close to home, add that to the fact that I read it during a very difficult week for the muslim community… let’s just say that I was in a rough state. But I loved it, every page of it was amazing and brilliant and so spot on that I couldn’t help nod my head with every relevant phrase, sentence or comment.

The writing is straight to the point, no flowery prose of any sort but at the same time it is very emotionally loaded, it made me feel every struggle the main characters felt, every battle they were fighting, it helped a lot with getting me invested in the story very fast (not like I needed much convincing to begin with). Randa Abdel-Fattah does an amazing job in integrating political discourse into these people’s lives, deconstructing and giving counter-arguments for every islamophobic, racist, anti-refugee argument. And this is very proeminent through the whole book.

To be completely honest, I wasn’t expecting When Michael met Mina to be as confronting as it was, I knew it would be to some extent, because you can’t bring up the refugee crisis without it being that way but this was a lot. It never sugar coated any of the issues, any of the conversations, all of it was blunt and layed for the reader to experience, and to make them think. Which was hard for me to read, and I had to take multiple breaks while reading because I’d be either angry, shaking or crying.

I loved how brilliantly the author tackled Islamophobia as well as racism, not only through lived experiences (re: showing rather than telling) but also through discourse and thoughtful commentary. And she does so with so much care and empathy, I’ve never felt like it was harsher than necessary (because some things are bound to be harsh) or like it was some kind of political agenda, it was just refugees’ lives, things they have to deal with on a daily. It’s nauseating, it’s heartbreaking but I loved how in the middle of it all there’s was hope for better as well as a sense of community and family that is heartwarming.

Some of things that happened in the story (and happen in real life as well as even worse) were gutting, it wasn’t just the loud racist acts, it was also the micro-agressions, the jokes, the pokes and jabs. They really hurt. Some quotes from the book:

Was part of our contract here in this country that we should be walking around depressed and broken? Wearing our trauma on this outside? And what about everybody we’d left dead or living in fear back home? Didn’t we owe them? How could I just lead this ordinary life?

Here’s one from an anti-refugee that made me sick to my stomach, because it’s something I’ve heard many MANY times before, everytime before someone starts nitpicking from my culture and appropriating it:

I celebrate our diversity – so long as people assimilate to our values. I don’t have a problem with different foods and festivals. That enriches our country. But people need to fit in with the majority instead of trying to mark themselves as different.

And this last one is one of the many that made me cheer and clap as well as fall in love with the book even more:

“You want me to make it easier for you to confront privilege because God knows even anti-racism has to be done in a way that makes the majority comfortable?”

I love how through two POVs on opposite side, the author took appart every argument and misconception people have. Some of which are:

  • •”They can’t be racist, they are nice people” because if you’re not on their islamophobic, racist visor, Michael’s parents and entourage could be the sweetest. I loved how that was showcased through their nice interactions with family/friends vs. their borderline vicious (and sometimes straight up vicious) behavior when it came to refugees.
  • Racism comes in different forms. There are the big loud, disgusting acts as well as the casual racism that can seem harmless unless you’re on the receiving end of them.
  • You can’t expect marginalized people to craddle you while you face your privilege. And this is something I see so often that I yelled yes when I read it in the book, because it’s true, refugees (in this case) are going through enough for you to add the weight of your own discomfort to it.

There are so many other issues discussed in this book that this is just a small sampler of what awaits you if you decide to pick it up.

 Mina is such a strong, determined and caring character, she’s the kind of muslim rep (among others) I want more of. An independant, opinionated, brave girl who stands up for what she believes in, for her people and what’s right. I honestly loved seeing her become that girl because at the start of the book, living with *her* people, she was relatively shielded from the racism but onces that shield was off, seeing her bloom into the activist the becomes at the end was beautiful.

But Michael‘s transformation was better to watch because it was different from where I stand (where I stand being next to Mina probably hugging or high-fiving her). A lot of us believe what our parents tell us at that age, and even later in life, not questioning anything unless someone shakes those beliefs to the core (been there, done that) so witnessing his internal debates as well as him uncovering layers upon layers of privilege and using them for good was fantastic albeit not always pleasant to read. He was an example of what lack of education and one sided “opinions” (re: bigotry) can do to a person and how they can be overcome when the person is willing to listen and learn.

I loved how complex the characters were, staying as far away from stereotypes as possible not only with the refugees but with people on the other side of the debate as well. The cast only made the book more powerful. I particularly loved Mina’s family dynamic, with how close and supportive of one another they were. Speaking of characters, I am pretty sure Michael’s brother is written as autistic (even though the word is never used) and I cannot speak for that rep, so if any reviewers with autism have read this book I’d love to hear their thoughts on it.

All in all this was such a brilliant, thought provoking read that I would recommend to anyone, especially if you’re interested in knowing about Islamophobia, racism and microagressions as well as unpacking privilege. Highly highly recommend this one.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read When Michael Met Mina? If so, what did you think?

How did the discourse affect you?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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The Upside of Unrequited – Cutest, most heartfelt story with most relatable MC

The Upside of Unrequited.pngPublication date : April 11th, 2017goodreads

Publisher : Balzer+Bray – Harpercollins

Genre : Young Adult | Contemporary

Page Count: 336

Synopsis : Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love—she’s lived through it twenty-six times. She crushes hard and crushes often, but always in secret. Because no matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.
Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly’s totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie’s new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. Will is funny and flirtatious and just might be perfect crush material. Maybe more than crush material. And if Molly can win him over, she’ll get her first kiss and she’ll get her twin back.
There’s only one problem: Molly’s coworker Reid. He’s an awkward Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there’s absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
 
(From Goodreads)

Rating: 5 stars

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(No Spoilers)

*awkward silence* I love this book so freaking much that I’m really trying to figure out how to review it without screaming “DROP EVERYTHING AND GO READ IT” until my laptop screen shatters. I’ve been procrastinating this review for a solid month, hoping for my feelings to settle so that I can review it properly, but who am I kidding? I will never get over how incredibly good and validating this book was. Between this one and Simon vs. the Homosapiens Agenda, Becky Albertalli has become one of my favorite authors, an auto-buy, auto-read and auto-scream about. So without further ado, let’s try and review The Upside of Unrequited.

As in good Becky fashion, the writing is simple and easy to follow while being gorgeous and making me want to quote every single line (I’m not kidding, I have so many quotes highlighted in my ecopy). She has a way of dealing with not so happy topics while still keeping things light and funny. This book made me laugh so much, I honestly started cracking up from the first sentence. I love that first sentence.

The story is so well constructed, not only following Molly’s story and growth but having many side storylines, for her twin sister, her friends, and even her moms which made the story feel more wholesome and realistic than most. I think I’ve said this in my review of Simon vs. but I think that the author writes the best relationships and more particularly, the best family bonds. They’re so genuine and heartwarming and just REAL, so incredibly real, the conversations, the love, the honesty, I just. I love everything about them so much.

So, Molly is my baby that I will protect at all costs, I will fight anyone who means her harm because she’s so precious and close to my heart. I think that if 16 years old me had Molly, she would’ve known that she will be alright and that she is not alone in what she’s feeling. Molly is fat (and no that’s not a bad word, get over it) and just such a funny, caring, and all around awesome character and she’s probably the character I saw most of my teenage self in. She’s such an overthinker (which hi, hello, it’s me!) and that makes her a walking ball of anxiety. Oh speaking of anxiety, I loved how medications was talked about and normalized. I wanted to scream ME with ever one of her struggles, thoughts and victories.

Also, I want to address the fact that Molly WASN’T fixed by the fact that she got a boyfriend, she just found someone who made her happy so it’s only normal for her to be more rainbows and sunshine. Underneath all of that she is still the same Molly, with a lot of character growth, sure, but still Molly. I may or may not have burst into tears at some point while reading the book.

Reid is the goofiest, softest boy. He cares so much about Molly and he just *gets* her. I love how good and comfortable with each other they were while stilll having their adorably awkward moments. I couldn’t help but root for them and swoon over them because THEY ARE ADORABLE. Cassie, Molly’s twin sister is a character I started off liking because their relationship is very realistic but then as she started drifting away from Molly I got annoyed at her BUT THEN I remembered that sisters work like that sometimes and that the blame wasn’t entirely on her so I went back to loving her.

I want to mention the friendships in this as well because they are goals, the girls are there for each other at any time, no matter what. The moms as well, because that couple is so cute and strong and comforting.

I think I will stop here because I’m pretty sure this review doesn’t make sense but if you have to take one message away from this, it’s “READ THE FREAKING BOOK” It’s brilliant, has positive fat and anxiety rep, as well as pansexual rep and a two moms’ wedding. READ IT.


That’s it until next time.

Did you read The Upside of Unrequited? If so, what did you think?

Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.

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