Love, Hate & Other & Filters by Samira Ahmed
Publisher: Amulet Books Soho Teen
Release Date: January 9, 2017
Summary:American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
*Received an ARC of Love, Hate, & Other Filters through a giveaway*
My Thoughts: Love, Hate & Other Filters is a heartfelt debut that discusses topics both relevant + timely today. While tackling such a number of important issues, Ahmed balances chilling, heart-warming +honest tones perfectly. Readers will fall in love with Maya and her empowering tale to follow her dreams and tackle the obstacles that life throws her way!
To start I loved Maya so much! She was just such an inspiring + delightful main character! Maya Aziz is an aspiring filmmaker and against her parents expectations, hopes to get into NYU & study film.
Not only does this novel surround Maya and her dedication to pursue her dreams, with some romance along the way, but it also discusses and tackles Islamophobia and how an event far from her, impacts her in her small Illinois town.
Aside from the wonderful protagonist Maya, we are also introduced to Maya’s parents (Dr./Dr. Aziz) who, with their hearts in the right place, are set on Maya finding a suitable partner and attending a university they approve of.
However, Maya builds the courage and strength to tell her parents just how passionate she is for the dream they see as a “hobby.” Her determination + strength the follow a dream she follows with such heart was so inspiring + I was rooting for her every step of the way! (+ Loved the film references sprinkled throughout the story!)
There’s also her dedicated best friend Violet and Maya’s aunt Hina who (w/ out Maya’s parents knowledge) knows about her dream to get to NYU & is supportive of Maya 100%.
Then there’s Kareem who is the college guy that Maya’s parents approve of. He was such a great character! While we see Maya’s relationship grow with him, we also see how they are willing to see eye-to-eye on the development on their relationship + the above all, wonderful friendship dynamic they have with each other! I loved their scenes together, they had such great chemistry & although their relationship doesn’t work out, Kareem makes it clear he will always be a supportive friend to Maya no matter what!
And then there’s Phil, the guy at her high school that Maya has had a crush on for years. They too also begin to develop a relationship (although a bit fast-paced).
Both Kareem & Phil were supportive of Maya every step of the way and above all were just such kind and wonderfully-developed male leads! Ahmed just delivers the romance of her story in such a unique way that just surprised me and I loved how it was developed.
While Love, Hate, And Other Filters builds as a relatable YA Contemporary with some friendship, romance, family dynamics, common stresses & anxieties of college/university, and themes of independence, around 50% of the way through the novel does a complete 180 when Maya is soon confronted with Islamaphobia in her small town.
When news of a terrorist attack reaches Maya’s home and the person suspected shares her last name Aziz, Maya stays strong as a guy at her high school shows hatred towards her and her parents clinic is damaged in a cruel act of hatred. My heart broke for the terrible things her + her family were faced with.
When her parents fears cause them to re-consider her acceptance to NYU, Maya must continue to gather the strength and confidence to stand by her dream.
Throughout the novel we are shown that the camera is very much like Maya’s shield and we see how it distances her from situations. And as the novel progresses we see in general how one views a person/situation is all through a lens (or filter!) That, I felt became such an important aspect to the story and was really integrated all throughout!
I think my only minor critiques that kept it from being a full 5, were that I felt this book was marketed with such a focus on tackling Islamaphobia, that I wanted there to be more expansion on how Maya & her family tackled it + overall just more discussion on the impact such fears can have because I feel such discussions of timely issues are so important in YA!
Additionally (though I fully understand I read this as an ARC, so the FC has most likely gone through more edits) I felt there were moments in the story that went a bit too fast, so plot and character-wise where there could have been just a little bit more development.
Aside from that, I honestly loved this book with all my heart & feel it was such a memorable read!
I cannot wait to read Ahmed’s future books & highly recommend checking out Love, Hate & Other Filters if you haven’t already!
Character-driven, cinematic, timely, and full of such heart, Ahmed’s debut is captivating! Love, Hate, & Other Filters follows inspiring Maya Aziz as she tackles with understanding who she wants to be and the heart-breaking + heavy issues she encounters in her small town!