Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
Publisher: Soho Teen (Jan 16, 2018)
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.
I’d like to thank Penguin Random House USA International for sending me copy of Love, Hate & Other Filters for review.
Coming into 2018, I was very excited to see Love, Hate & Other Filters headlining January’s releases mainly because I’ve heard nothing but good things about Samira Ahmed’s debut novel.
Love, Hate & Other Filters is a riveting story about a Muslim teen who deals with the aftermath of an event that shook her to the core.
Maya is an aspiring filmmaker who enjoys seeing the world through the lens of her camera. Her dream is to enroll in NYU to pursue film studies but being an Indian daughter, she has to do law to appease her parents. Aside from determining her future after high school graduation, she has to deal with her parents’ expectations of her finding the perfect husband for herself and securing a future that is approved by her parents, mind you.
Reading Love, Hate & Other Filters did give me a taste of the wonderful Indian-Muslim culture that I thought I knew. Little did I know, what I knew before reading Samira Ahmed’s book was the tip of the iceberg. However, I did feel like Maya’s story taught me a lot of the culture, in terms of the traditions of arranged marriages versus love marriages, Indian-Muslim parents’ expectations on their children and a Muslim girl’s beliefs and values.
“One thing I’ve learned: people love a camera, and when I’m filming, they see it, not me, so whenever I need to, I can quietly disappear behind my trusty shield.”
As Love, Hate & Other Filters is an #ownvoices book, I thought Maya’s voice, as a young Indian-American and Muslim teenager, was authentic and endearing. As an Asian, in some ways, I could relate to Maya because our cultures place an importance in achieving the best in life, securing a good future for ourselves and then there is this innate sense of doing our best in everything, which was ingrained in us by our parents. Therefore, I could understand how Maya felt like she was restricted to being a good Indian daughter to her parents, even at the expense of her future and happiness.
“Those who chose to make this place their home; those born here. Muslim and Jew. Christian and Hindu. Buddhist and Atheist. Every race. Every creed. All of them, human beings.”
As the book is told from Maya’s point of view, I couldn’t help but fall in love with the narrative because seeing things through Maya’s lenses was a dream come true. Samira Ahmed managed to capture the world around Maya with clarity and flair in her cinematic and atmospheric writing, especially when she describes the “movie version” of several scenes in the book.
Aside from Love, Hate & Other Filters being a wonderful contemporary read that discusses the life and expectations of an Indian Muslim girl, it tackles a very serious issue that is prevalent in the Muslim community as well: Islamophobia. I thought the book bravely dealt with Islamophobia and some parts did serve as an eye-opener for me, even as a Malaysian, where I have friends who are Muslim.
“These terrorists are the antithesis of Islam. They’re not Muslim. Violence has no place in religion, and the terrorists are responsible for their own crimes, not the religion and not us.”
I would definitely recommend this heart-warming tale of a young teen who discovers her place in the world and is determined to make her mark, regardless of her religion and the colour of her skin. Maya’s story in Love, Hate & Other Filters did touch me and I really think it’s a book that would surprise you as the romance is delectable and it’s also a glimpse into the life of an Indian-Muslim girl living in the States.