Publisher: Hot Key Books
Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance
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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?
I was fortunate enough to be sent an ARC of Love, Hate and Other Filters which, as an own voices story centring a Muslim female MC, was high on my most anticipated list. It has been a few months since I’ve read it and over that period of time I’ve had the opportunity to actually mull over my thoughts and feelings surrounding the story.
Overall, I enjoyed Love, Hate and Other Filters. Maya was a great main character and I connected with her on several levels; particularly her struggle with trying to please her parents and live up to this expectation of what a ‘perfect Muslim daughter’ is perceived to be, while also trying to maintain a level of independence and the struggles that came with being a young, Indian Muslim female growing up in a Western society. Maya often struggles with combining these various parts of her identity, and unfortunately, her solution is often to run away. Both metaphorically and literally.
Maya also finds herself struggling in the romance department – torn between two seemingly ‘perfect’ boys. An older, ‘suitable’ Muslim boy who her parents have picked out for her, and the non-Muslim boy at school who she’s had a crush on forever. While Kareem had a bit more depth and complexity to him, Phil was quite flat and two-dimensional. Your typical, cliche, high-school rom-com, hot jock type with an emotional backstory that *surprise surprise* means he doesn’t actually want to be a jock. Therefore, the romance really didn’t do it for me. It was a bit meh and the whole ‘oh wow, two boys who love me who do I choose?!’ thing was… meh. When pressed for an explanation by a friend, I really thought about it and decided that it was because there didn’t feel like any significant character development (Maya ran away from her problems at the beginning, continued to run away at the end, I don’t know).
But overall, I enjoyed Love, Hate and Other Filters and felt like it dealt well with a lot of difficult topics and brings a really important voice to YA books in general. Maya is funny, her ambition and drive make her an inspiring character but the story definitely felt lacking in certain regards, the romance was meh, and I wasn’t a huge fan of the ending. That being said, I’m looking forward to Samira Ahmed’s future releases.