I’m beginning to find that I enjoy realistic YA fiction more than fantasy and high epics or sappy romances. That said, while there is a romance in Love, Hate and Other Filters, it is balanced by the other concerns of the protagonist’s life. I had heard good buzz about this book, and while Goodreads is very mixed, I enjoyed it immensely.
Maya Aziz is 17 and a typical American teenager. Or is she? She finds herself at a crossroads with two futures in front of her: the “good” Indian Muslim daughter who will attend a suburban college close to home and marry a good Muslim boy (despite the fact that neither she nor her parents is traditionally devout in the way her ancestors were); and the glamor of film school at NYU with her crush on Phil, a high school classmate, realized. Maya dallies with both possibilities, until an act of terror rocks the state of Illinois and forces her to realize that being a woman of color in the United States, after 2016, is fraught with all kinds of danger.
This is a heartfelt and earnest book, veering from the ordinariness of teen angst with the kind of wrenching agony when a hate crime poisons what used to be a loving and open community. Maya is already conflicted about her faith and heritage, and when she is reduced to that heritage, she finds herself unmoored by everything she had previously held dear. I was reminded a lot of The Hate You Give and found myself humbled to think about how my privilege shields me from these kinds of attacks.
A lot of Muslim readers on Goodreads were upset about representations of their faith in this book. I am obviously not a Muslim and am therefore not qualified to comment on their concerns at all. I will say, if you’re looking for a book about a more traditional Muslim young woman, you should check out Mohja Kahf’s The Girl in the Tangerine Scarf instead. But this book is an interesting counterpart, as well.
Cross-posted to my blog.