Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Review: Love, Hate, and Other Filters

Title: Love, Hate, and Other Filters
Author: Samira Ahmed
Publisher: Soho Teen
Pages: 288
Availability: On shelves now
Review copy: ARC via publisher

Summary: 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.

Review: Maya has such a fantastic voice in this book. She had me laughing and eye-rolling along with her. Along with her dry sense of humor, I also appreciate her love for films. She has a passion for making films and it affects how she sees the world.  I'm not into videos so much, but I do spend a lot of time with our film crew at school and I'm generally the family photographer. Maya notes that when you have the camera up, people pay less attention to you. You can hide behind the camera and be an observer without getting dragged into the scene. This fits with how Maya wants to blend in at school and in her community.

Throughout the book Maya searches for balance between her two worlds. She has big, lovely, epic dreams, but they do NOT match those of her parents. Her parents want her to learn to cook, become a lawyer and marry a doctor. None of these are high on her list, but she loves and respects her parents so following a different path would be a struggle.

Along with working through what she wants and figuring out how badly she wants these things, Maya is feeling the stirrings of love. She has a flirtation with someone who is "the parental dream of suitability," but also has increasingly strong feelings for someone who is the opposite in their eyes.

These may seem like challenges enough, but a terrorist attack leads some people to show their true feelings about Maya and her family. There had been microaggressions in the past and even some purely hateful comments and behaviors, but things heat up after the attack. Some people seem to see the event as a something giving them permission to unleash hate.

Recommendation: Maya's effort to balance the various parts of her identity and work out what's important in her life brought me to tears and laughter. This is a beautiful book of family, love, and identity. Get it soon especially if you are a fan of contemporary YA.

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