I really really enjoyed this book! I loved how it tackled important topics like racism and Islamophobia while also having a lot of cute, romantic elements typical of ya contemporary. I’m going to break this review down into a list of what I liked and a (small) list of what I didn’t like.
A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
- Maya!! I loved her so much for so many reasons: she’s relatable (at least she was for me), she’s sort of awkward, she overthinks things, she’s funny, she’s sarcastic, she’s a bookworm (!!!), and she’s super passionate about filmmaking. She basically thinks in movies, and I absolutely loved that she made documentaries. Also, she works in a bookstore!
- Kareem. He’s so sweet and adorable. And Phil! There’s sort of a love triangle, and I have to say, I really liked both Kareem and Phil.
Ultimately, I was happy with Maya’s decision though; she and Phil are so cute together! And I adore Maya and Kareem’s friendship.
- Hina, Maya’s aunt, is also an amazing character. She is awesome and such a great female role model.
- Violet is amazing and so supportive and has so much personality! She’s such a great friend to Maya. She maybe felt a little too flawless? But whatever.
- I feel like I learned soem stuff about Indian culture from this book.
- In between each chapter, the author includes random little excerpts that don’t seem connected…until the end of the story. I really liked how Samira Ahmed included these! It’s a great feeling when you start to see how all the puzzle pieces fit together, so to speak.
- The writing was super great; beautiful and addictive and just the right pace, in my opinion.
- There is Indian-American and Muslim rep! I am not Indian-American or Muslim, but the book is #OwnVoices. (Although, see note in the next section about the Muslim rep.)
- There are some important messages about racism and Islamophobia. It’s really great that Islamophobia is being talked about in ya.
- I also felt like it touched on sexism and gender roles a little too?
- I really liked the ending!
- We never actually met Lisa, Phil’s girlfriend. Maya keeps on mentioning her and she is an important character because of her relation to Phil, but we only hear about her. I would’ve liked to see Lisa on the page and get a glimpse firsthand of what kind of person she is, at least once.
Update: the awesome Nadia @ Headscarves and Hardbacks, who is Muslim, also posted a great review and you should totally read it!
All in all, I enjoyed Love, Hate & Other Filters! It was a quick, enjoyable contemporary with important themes.
Thank you to the publisher for providing me with an advance copy of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.