Love, Hate and Other Filters
by Samira Ahmed
read in February 2018
This is a spoiler-free review!
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, Jacquelyn Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
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?
Since I am neither Muslim or Indian-American, I suggest reading #OwnVoices reviews. You can find two reviews from Muslim readers here and here.
Love, Hate and Other Filters is fast-paced, it’s a book you could read in one day if you wanted to. It’s also fairly short, so I’d absolutely recommend this book for ContemporaryAThon, which is taking place next week!
If you are a fan of Young Adult contemporary romances, Love, Hate and Other Filters is what you are looking for! I wish I had known beforehand there was a heavy emphasis on the romance – two love interests, fluffy moments, etc. – because I personally do not tend to enjoy such books. Like I said, that’s completely personal, but if you go into this book thinking it’s going to revolve around islamophobia and the terror attack, you will be disappointed.
So if you are interested in reading this, I think you have to understand that this book is primarily about Maya and her life as a Indian-American Muslim teenager living in the United States. It’s about her going on dates, having fights with her parents, worrying about going to college, etc. The terror attack that is mentioned in the synopsis doesn’t take place until halfway through the book, so that’s really not what it’s about. Once again, that’s not a bad thing, but I do think a lot of readers – including myself, had I known – will have to alter their expectations.
Anyway, as I have mentioned before, stories in which the romance (particularly featuring allocishet characters) is very important, are not my cup of tea. Sadly, that was the case with Love, Hate and Other Filters as well. I was bothered when the love interest kissed Maya without asking whether she was okay with that, especially considering kissing in public is apparently frowned upon in Indian culture. Furthermore, the age difference was icky: Maya is seventeen, one of the love interests at least twenty-one.
Having said that, I don’t think it’s the book’s fault I would’ve loved this more without the romance. That’s just the way I’m wired. There are plenty of readers out there who don’t mind that, so please, don’t let me hold you back from picking up this book!
While reading, I noticed how often things like ‘G-rated’ and ‘his dimple’ were said. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it proves that I wasn’t completely absorbed in the story to be bothered by those repetitions. During the scenes in which Maya is targeted for being a Muslim though, I was holding my breath. It made me feel very anxious, so I can only imagine how meaningful this book is for Muslim readers.
All in all I am still rating Love, Hate and Other Filters four stars because I realise that my complaints are merely personal references. I will continue to support Samira Ahmed and am already looking forward to her upcoming work.
I also liked the complexity Ahmed added to the story and characters. The terrorist has a complex background which I applaud, but at the same time it made me uncomfortable because I don’t like the insinuation that someone who is the victim of abuse, grows up to abuse others in even worse ways. It’s possible, but it also paints a negative image of people who need help. Anyway, this is – once again – a personal pet peeve of mine and it’s something I always mention when discussing thrillers as well.
content and trigger warnings for: mentions of racial profiling of Muslims, mentions of someone having a heart attack, islamophobia, terror attack / a suicide bomber, a hate crimes, physical romance, M/F romance (kissing)
Love, Hate and Other Filters was a good book and I can’t wait to read more of this author’s work. I ultimately didn’t absolutely love it, but that’s because of personal reasons. Those won’t stop me from recommending this book, especially to fans of young adult contemporary romances.
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