Love, Hate & Other Filters
Written by: Samira Ahmed
Number of Pages: 276
Average Rating: 4.01 / 5 stars
My Rating: 4.5 / 5 stars
Published: January 16, 2018
Read in February 2018
Summary According to Goodreads
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; neighbours and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
Another novel that I preordered, and featured on my “most anticipated” list! Yet another novel that did not disappoint with the expectations I had set for it. I went into this novel knowing the general plot, but that didn’t take away from enjoyment. This novel essentially has two stories woven together; the first being a coming-of-age about a high school senior, and the other being how racism affects Muslim families living in Chicago. Both of these stories are told from Maya's perspective, who prefers to view the world behind the safety of her camera lens.
I know I say this often, but in a contemporary novel strong characters play a crucial role in my enjoyment of the story. Our main character, Maya, was interesting to read because she was both diverse and unique, but also relatable as a typical teenager. She struggles between being the perfect daughter to her traditional parents, and crushing on boys while wanting to be independent in a different city. In an effort to avoid spoilers I am going to withhold names, but just know that I enjoyed the romance(s) that we got in this novel, as I felt they helped shaped Maya and push her into independence. I would have liked to see more of her best friend, Violet, and get a more developed perspective of her as she felt very random. She was one of the only characters that I couldn’t connect with, but not a huge issue for me.
This novel felt so real on so many levels, and developed so well in so few pages. The characters were your normal teenagers, saying stupid or cliche things, but they each had their own voice and personality. I was slightly disappointed that one of the love interests was the typical “had a crush since kindergarten” type, but it was done so well that I got over it quickly.
Talking about how real this novel felt, I do want to put it out there that I am not Muslim, and don’t know enough about the religion to know if those aspects were delivered fairly or not. Without more than a basic knowledge of this religion and culture, I was still able to enjoy this novel and think it is a very important one for more people to read. I am Canadian and do not experience as much terrorism or racism in society as other countries might, but it is crucial for everyone to acknowledge and appreciate how Islamophobia and other biases are affecting our world.
Overall, I really enjoyed this novel as it was powerful, real, and difficult to put down. I also appreciated the different perspectives between chapters that gave a bigger and clearer idea of what was going on. We are able to see before the attack, during, and after, adding a more connected view to the emotional one. If you are interested in young adult contemporaries, or diversity reads, I would highly recommend checking out this debut novel!