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Love, hate & other filters (edition 2018)

by (Fiction writer) Samira Ahmed

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1971485,541 (4.24)1
Member:sueannwoo
Title:Love, hate & other filters
Authors:(Fiction writer) Samira Ahmed
Info:New York, NY : Soho Teen, [2018]
Collections:Read but unowned
Rating:*****
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Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed

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Cute, diverse YA contemporary but in the backdrop of some serious current event topics. It has your typical trope of outsider girl with a love interest of the HS popular boy. But also does not shy away from harder topics like Islamophobia/xenophobia, as well as the pressure of parental expectations. Overall, it was a sweet, heartbreaking at times, entertaining read by an own voices author. ( )
  Yoh | Sep 23, 2018 |
Maya Aziz is a want-to-be film maker. But her desire to go to NYU goes against her Indian, Muslim family's rules. Her parents want her to study to become a lawyer at school near home in Illinois. Her long time crush Phil suddenly shows interest in her. When a terrorist attack brings out some hateful acts against her family, Maya's parents want to protect her and keep her closer than ever. She balks against this and tries to find way to hold onto her dreams and pursue her future.
She's independent, strong willed, determined. The book gives a glimpse into culture and is set in Batavia, Illinois. It's a quick read. ( )
  ewyatt | Sep 22, 2018 |
https://iwriteinbooks.wordpress.com/2018/05/21/love-hate-and-other-filters-samira-ahmed/

I wish I had had this book when I was a freshman in college.

I was about two weeks into my first year away from home, standing on campus in New York, when my best friend and I saw the towers come down.

At the time, I had never experienced anything like that but my Indian-Muslim friend stood next to me and said, “Please don’t let them be Muslim”.

Over the next few days, as she wept and worried with millions of other New Yorkers, fretting about how many of her friends and neighbors might have gone down in the crash, she had to deal with a level of anxiety the rest of us didn’t.

The American climate shifted immediately toward anti-Islam threats and when we went to the student chapel, that night, to pray, she was harassed for speaking in Arabic.

That moment has been stuck in my heart for 17 years, even as this friend used her resilience and intelligence to go on to become an attorney for the UN, never letting the negative voices stop her.

Because of that introduction of how horrible people can be in a time where we should be helping one another, Love, Hate, and Other Filters struck a deep chord with me.

In a somewhat similar (but altogether different) story, Ahmed’s protagonist., Maya, deals with the fallout of a terrorist bombing and the xenophobic aftermath from her classmates and neighbors.

It is a true testament to the work we still have to do as a country to refrain from judgment in moments we find ourselves acting in fear as opposed to understanding.

Ahmed’s voice is spot on for both the frustration as a Muslim teen among WASP peers and as an American teen in a traditional Indian household. The intertwined identities, code-switching, and balancing of her parents’ American Dream and her own personal search for truth and meaning are woven expertly into the larger themes at play.

I absolutely loved this story and I think it is an intensely important one, right now. ( )
  iwriteinbooks | May 21, 2018 |
Samira Ahmed has written a timely and entertaining story of Indian-American teenager, Maya, and her struggle with being a "good" Indian girl for her parents and an independent budding documentarian. I loved Maya's story because it exposes the universal desires that American teenaged girls experience, regardless of culture or home-life, in addition to exposing the often undiscussed issues that come with growing up as a Muslim Indian-American. Maya is a witty, complex character, and through her lens, we see thematic elements of prejudice, cultural and generational conflict, and struggle with identity. This novel is a relevant read, and I highly recommend it. ( )
  LindsTee | Apr 26, 2018 |
“I don’t know how to live the life I want and still be a good daughter.” ~ Samira Ahmed, Love, Hate & Other Filters

Books have always been an important part of my life. When I have questions that I can’t answer, I turn to books. When I feel like the world is spinning out of control, I turn to books. Books are my constant companions and a source of both comfort and wisdom. I have always been able to pick up a book and see myself reflected in the characters. I took that privilege for granted.

The publishing industry is slowly changing, thanks in part to a nonprofit organization called We Need Diverse Books. This grassroots effort brings together authors, agents, readers and publishers to promote children’s books, including middle grade and young adult, that reflect the lives of all young people. They advocate for more books that feature diverse characters so that all children can see themselves in the pages of a book.

This is one of the reasons I read middle grade and young adult novels.

There is more diversity in middle grade and young adult novels, and these books tend to tackle difficult subjects more directly and honestly than most adult fiction. Perhaps more importantly, when we look at a difficult issue through the eyes of a young person, we see it more clearly and are better able to understand and grapple with it. We set aside our desire to show that we already understand something and look at it from a different perspective.

In Samira Ahmed’s debut young adult novel, Love, Hate & Other Filters, we meet seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz. A high school senior and the only child of Indian Muslim immigrants, Maya is, in many ways, a typical American teenager. She dreams of going to film school in New York City, has a crush on the quarterback of the football team, shares everything with her best friend and finds creative ways to rebel against her conservative parents.

A second storyline is interspersed between chapters and we are offered a glimpse into the mind of a young man who drives an explosives-laden van into a federal building in Springfield, Illinois, killing more than one hundred people. As news of the attack breaks, schools throughout the state go on lockdown. And Maya is suddenly very conscious of her religious heritage:

“Please don’t let it be a Muslim. I know I’m not the only one hoping for this. I know millions of American Muslims – both religious and secular – are echoing these very same words at this very same moment.”

According to early news reports, the suspected suicide bomber is an Egyptian named Kamal Aziz. Because he shares Maya’s last name, she and her family are suddenly viewed with suspicion.

“It’s selfish and horrible, but in this terrible moment, all I want is to be a plain old American teenager. Who can simply mourn without fear. Who doesn’t share last names with a suicide bomber. Who goes to dances and can talk to her parents about anything and can walk around without always being anxious. And who isn’t a presumed terrorist first and an American second.”

Instead a racist classmate harasses Maya at school and someone throws a brick through a window at her parent’s dental practice, with a threat and their home address. In an effort to protect their daughter, Maya’s parents cancel social engagements and decide that Maya cannot attend New York University, but instead must go to college in Chicago, where she will still be nearby and can live with her aunt.

We eventually learn that the terrorist was a white man named Ethan Branson. The original suspect, Egyptian national Kamal Aziz, was not the suicide bomber but a victim; a young man who was about to be sworn in as an American citizen.

But Maya's parents are determined to keep their daughter close.

Neither Maya nor her Aunt Hina, a hip graphic designer who lives by herself in a flat in downtown Chicago, can convince Maya’s parents to let Maya attend film school in New York City. Hina reminds her sister and brother-in-law of their decision to come to America against the wishes to their own parents. She also reminds them of her own journey, and their support for her decision not to marry or pursue a more traditional career but to focus on her art and design work.

It is all to no avail. Maya must abide by her parents’ wishes or be disowned.

The resolution is refreshingly realistic, but not terribly well developed. Throughout most of the book, Maya’s parents are somewhat flat, two-dimensional characters. Before their family is threatened they seem completely disengaged from their daughter’s life and we learn little about who they are and what motivates them. It is only when we learn a bit of their story from Hina that we realize they have the potential to be compelling characters.

Equally disappointing is the sacrifice of two extraordinary characters, Maya’s aunt Hina and her best friend Violet, to Maya’s budding romance with Phil, the football team's star quarterback. Unfortunately, there is nothing particularly inspiring about this young romance, and the number of pages dedicated to this subplot far outweighs its significance.

On the other hand, Ahmed’s decision to humanize the terrorist, to show us the abuse he suffered at the hands of his father, was both brilliant and heartbreaking. News coverage of attacks like the one depicted here often differs depending on the suspect’s skin color. People of color are labeled terrorists. We learn little about their background unless it supports the terrorist narrative. In contrast, when the terrorist is white, they are referred to as a lone wolf who is emotionally disturbed. If there is evidence of familial abuse, the media shares that information as well in an effort to support the lone wolf narrative.

Like so many contemporary young adult writers, Ahmed doesn’t shy away from difficult topics. She helps us get to know an endearing character and then puts her in danger, helping us feel the fear, anger and disappointment a young Muslim woman experiences in response to Islamophobia. But she sacrifices several characters to accommodate a rather unoriginal teenage love story. And that sacrifice keeps the novel from reaching the level of depth and complexity that makes a story so enjoyable.

★★★

Love, Hate & Other Filters, a young adult novel by Samira Ahmed, published by Soho Teen, an imprint of Soho Press, in 2018.

This book review is presented as part of my personal challenge to read and write a thoughtful review of at least 30 books in 2018. To learn more about this challenge, the books I have selected, and my imperfect rating system, visit www.thescribblersjournal.com. ( )
  JoppaThoughts | Apr 15, 2018 |
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Maya Aziz, seventeen, is caught between her India-born parent's world of college and marrying a suitable Muslim boy and her dream world of film school and dating her classmate, Phil, when a terrorist attack changes her life forever.

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