Another hit from Ali, Love from A to Z is more than just a romance—it’s a story about family and friendship and kindred spirits. It’s a story about fighting back and embracing yourself.
It’s a fantastic book and one I’d recommend to contemporary, romance, and contemporary romance readers alike. There were just so many things to love!
I adored Zayneb and her spitfire nature.
Zayneb was my favorite part of this whole book.
She goes through an almost Taming of the Shrew questioning, deciding whether she should hide her fire and instinct to call out bigotry and hatred, but eventually learns to embrace herself and both her flaws and strong points.
Her early spring break in Qatar was no coincidence, and the role Zayneb’s own tendencies plays in the story were really interesting and something I enjoyed seeing! Even till the end, this was something Ali examined and played with and I think Zayneb’s growth was one of the most notable parts of this story.
The entire concept was so cute!
The Marvels and Oddities journal that both Adam and Zayneb keep were such a cool idea, and I love how they influenced the introduction to the story, the chapter headings, and Adam and Zayneb’s own thinking.
It helps toy with the idea of fate and kindred spirits and I really loved reading that in this and seeing how Adam and Zayneb were brought together. It really brought an extra quirky-in-a-good-way element to the story.
It reminded me a little bit of like Jenn Bennett or Morgan Matson or Jennifer E. Smith romances—things with kind of quirky elements that help make things a little more perfect! Definitely found the Marvels and Oddities journal to be such a great touch.
It takes place in Qatar, and I want so much more internationally-set fiction.
This was one of my favorite parts too, because I loooooved seeing more internationally-set, non-Western fiction.
I don’t just mean like a summer vacation hurrah (although Zayneb is on spring break, but Adam lives in Qatar), but like actual characters who live in the country, and the way Ali grew the setting was so great. I loved getting to explore this area through the characters and Ali’s writing, and it really created a rich environment.
It was tangible and honest and I definitely hope more stories like this get published!
What went wrong?
Honestly, it’s nothing I can pinpoint tangibly. I loved Zayneb, I loved the concept. I feel like I could have had more click with the story, but I think this is largely a me-issue and not a book-issue. I wanted to be head-over-heels in love with this, and although I did really really enjoy it, I felt like something was missing.
Part of it might be that I just liked Zayneb so much more than Adam (Adam is cool! He’s just not as cool as my girl Zayneb). Or maybe it was just me. Who knows?
Overall, definitely recommend!
This is still a really great book and one that touches on so many important topics with a well-needed diverse cast of characters.
Love from A to Z might be a little sad at times, but ultimately it’s a hopeful romance that instills a precious sort of joy in the reader. I would definitely recommend you check this out, and if it sounds like something you’d like, pick it up!
From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss, following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.
A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…
Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.
S. K. Ali is a teacher based in Toronto whose writing on Muslim culture and life has appeared in the Toronto Star. Her family of Muslim scholars is consistently listed in the The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, and her insight into Muslim culture is both personal and far-reaching. A mother of a teenage daughter herself, S. K. Ali’s debut YA is a beautiful and nuanced story about a young woman exploring her identity through friendship, family, and faith.
Thank you so much to Simon Teen & Netgalley for providing me with a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review!
Plus, you can also check out a bunch of other reviews for Love from A to Z this month to read a lot of different perspectives–there are already four more up, so definitely check them out!
Mon, April 29 – Utopia State of Mind
Tues, April 30 – Andi’s ABCs
Weds, May 1 – Runaway with Dreamthieves
Thurs, May 2 – Take Me Away
Fri, May 3 – Vicky Who Reads – You are here!
Sat, May 4 – Book Scents
Mon, May 6 – Mary Had A Little Book Blog
Tues, May 7 – As Told by Zaheerah
Weds, May 8 – The Infinite Limits of Love
Thurs, May 9 – Pop! Goes the Reader
Fri, May 10 – Rich in Color
Mon, May 13 – Actin’ Up With Books
Tues, May 14 – Kaitlyn Gosiaco’s Blog
Weds, May 15 – It Starts at Midnight
Thurs, May 16 – Sleepy Sam Reads
Fri, May 17 – Wishful Endings