Thank you to @kidlitexchange for a free copy of Love, Hate, and Other Filters in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.
Love, Hate, and Other Filters tackles difficult topics that many young-adults are facing today. Ahmed first explores the relationships between Maya and her two potential loves. Will she choose the adorable Muslim boy that her parents approve of and is seemingly perfect in everyway? Or will she take a chance with her high school crush and one of the most popular boys in school? Maya’s conflict helps us learn who she is and see how much of an influence both her family and her culture has on her decisions. The first half of the book truly focuses on this more typical type of young adult book, one that showcases the uncertainty of young adulthood, the pressures of outside expectations, and the lens of a teen girl itching to leave home and live by her own rules.
Ahmed doesn’t stop there. She uses that typical “fluff” we all know and love from young adult books and turns it into an opportunity for discussion about deeper convictions and traditions. Maya highlights how her culture shapes who she is and the decisions she makes. Whether it is who she will date or what she will do after high school, we learn how integral her Islamic and American cultures are in her life. The representation of an Muslim female protagonist is one that I have rarely seen-especially for the target age group. In our global community, this book couldn’t be more timely. It gives readers just enough information about growing up as an Indian-American Muslim to pique their interest to explore more on their own, but not so much that the context of the book seems foreign and out of reach.
There are several moments in the book colored by hate and fear, allowing readers to see snippets of how terrifying racism truly can be. Ahmed weaves in Maya’s reactions to national events (including an incident in Chicago) and her personal interactions with her peers whose actions are colored by hate to start the conversation about how we react to Islamophobia. It is here where Ahmed’s storytelling really shines because she is able to present a realistic situation to an audience that may not have access to it otherwise.
In between each chapter there are snippets from another story, which does not come fruition until the end. After I finished the book I went back and read each short page to see how the story grew and developed throughout Maya’s story, and how it impacted Maya as well. Don’t skim through it!
This has been my favorite read of the year so far. Maya was a fun protagonist to spend time with and seeing the world through her filter gave me quite a bit to think about. I highly recommend this book not just to young adult readers, but to adults as well. The situations and perspectives are something that we all need to take a moment to consider.
TL/DR: It’s my favorite book of the year because it balances fluff, fury, and passion in the best way.
Rating: 5/5 stars
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