Love, Hate & Other Filters is an #OwnVoices debut about an Indian-American Muslim teen who both forges her own path in life as well as confronts Islamophobia.
Maya Aziz wants to go to film school in New York City and pursue her dream boy, not attend a college close to home and be paired off with an older Muslim boy approved by her parents.
Yet, after a horrific crime from hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down as the person presumed to be the terrorist shares her last name and faith. Her community becomes unrecognizable and bigotry, fear, and hatred are widespread.
This book was such a great novel. It had the balance I look for between plot and character development which made it such a good contemporary.
Where some contemporaries feel choppy and unbalanced, this was the type of story that wove everything together into a masterpiece rather than having one aspect overpower the other or having the plot and character development not stick together.
The balance was everything, and I was pleasantly surprised to see it in a debut novel. Although some authors start out good and get better, Ahmed is already off to a bang.
Maya is such a relatable character. She doesn’t face a solidary struggle in life, but a combination of struggles. Struggles with her family over college over marriage. Struggles with her love life and liking boys. Struggles with her relationships with her peers and other community members.
She faces the same things many of us face today, and it gave her so much depth. Maya was strong, yet flawed, making mistakes and being selfish at times. Yet she grows from her experiences and becomes a wiser person by the end of the novel.
I really enjoyed reading about her, and would have been content with this already.
Yet the plot was structured in a way that complemented this, building Maya’s character with what she experiences, not experiencing something and growing as a person separately. Her experiences affected her growth and spurred that coming-of-age that is characteristic of this novel.
There’s this great irony in the plot of how despite the true perpetrator revealed early on as a white supremacist, the initial accusation of it being a Muslim caused so much relentless hate in Maya’s community.
This story was layered and complex and formed this coming of age novel that I wholeheartedly enjoyed reading.
And that’s not to mention the sheer entertainment value from this novel.
It was exciting to see Maya and her romantic experiences, her split feeling between both the white boy she’s dreamed of and the older Muslim one her family approves of. It was sweet and romantic and conflicting enough to show her internal struggle, but withdrawn enough to prevent unnecessary annoyance.
Her attempts to fit into the box her parents want her to fit into while also pursuing her dreams is something many teens can relate to, no matter what culture they’re from.
I love how applicable this novel is–not just in Maya’s relatable-ness as a teen, but also from the important topics it addresses of Islamophobia and how people can suffer from the stereotypes of others, whether it’s from those colder stares in the hallways or the more serious attacks that happen to community members.
This is such an amazing novel and I would wholeheartedly recommend it to lovers of important, poignant contemporaries. If you liked Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give and other novels dealing with relevant topics, you’ll definitely enjoy Love, Hate & Other Filters!
Thank you to my library and Soho Teen for providing me with this (uncatalogued) copy in exchange for an honest review!
You can preorder Love, Hate & Other Filters or buy it in store on January 16th at any major bookseller!
Are you excited to read Love, Hate & Other Filters, because I sure am!