Publisher: Salaam Reads

Friday, April 19, 2019

Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali

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I received this book for free from Salaam Reads in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Soft but Important: Love from A to Z by S.K. AliLove from A to Z by S.K. Ali
Published by Salaam Reads on April 30th, 2019
Genres: Contemporary, YA
Source: Salaam Reads
Buy on Amazon

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.

I am almost 22 and can safely say I am not the intended audience for YA novels these days but, reading Love From A To Z made me feel like a teen again and soothed my soul in a way a contemporary novel hasn’t in a while. I was transported back to 2010 when I read Does My Head Look Big in This and felt seen by the MC who was struggling with her identity in a world that hated her.

Zayneb is not a nice girl. She is angry. She is angry at the injustice in the world and she is angry at the injustice she experiences every day in her classroom. She is tired of always feeling like she needs to be ashamed of who she is. A suspension means an early start to her spring break and she is off to Doha to visit her favorite aunt.

Adam is returning home to Doha for spring break but little does anyone know that it might not be a temporary thing. He has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the same disease that took his mother, and with the anniversary of his mother’s death coming up, he isn’t sure how to break the news to his still grieving father.

It seems like fate when Adam and Zayneb’s paths cross at an airport and then cross again at a house party. As they get to know each other, sparks fly.

Obviously, spring break is a short time to get to know and fall in love with someone but the way Ali tells this love story feels so authentic and I forgot that it had only been two weeks. I love that while Adam and Zayneb share values and a journal, they are also, in other ways, complete opposites. Sometimes, they were painfully aware of how truly opposite they were but in the end, they complement and ground one another.

Love from A to Z is a love story but it is also so much more. It is very much aware of the world and environment it is set in and isn’t afraid to point out the many injustices that we come across, even passively. It also deals with grief in a profound way that isn’t always about being okay in the short run.

At its heart, Love from A to Z is a book about hope because, even in the face of some truly terrible things, Zayneb and Adam find ways to be happy. And their happiness isn’t just rooted in each other, they have a strong network of friends and family who have their backs and help empower them.

If you’re looking for the kind of contemporary novel that doesn’t shy away from the ugly but is also absolutely adorable and soft, Love from A to Z is the book for you.


4 Hot Espressos

An Adventurous Middle Grade Novel: The Gauntlet by Karuna Riazi

Posted by on 05/10/2017 • 1 Comment

5 Things You Need To Know About The Gauntlet

1. It is a great book for kids who love games and kids who love RP games. Have you ever wondered what it would be like if you were made a character in your fav game? WELL THIS BOOK ANSWERS all those questions and more.

2. Friendships are a huge deal in this book. Farah and her friends grew apart when she moved and as they are forced into The Gauntlet, they reconnect and work together to rescue Farah’s brothers. Lots of cutes to go around.

3. It is fast paced. While I do enjoy a fast paced book, I did feel like it was a little rushed in terms of development and transitions from challenge to challenge.

4. FOOD PORN. Lots and lots of…

One of the Most Important Books: Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan

Posted by on 03/23/2017 • 2 Comments

It’s in the title of this review post but I am going to repeat it anyway: Amina’s Voice is one of the most important books published this year and has clearly not gotten the hype it deserves. It’s a middle grade book and I know a lot of people shy away from reading those because reading tastes vary but please don’t overlook this book. Amina’s Voice is such a wonderful, heartfelt book and deserves and infinite amount of love from everybody.

I should take a moment to say I am neither Muslim-American or Pakistani-American but Amina’s Voice still resonated with and I found myself nodding along and feeling Amina’s struggle with her cultural identity on a spiritual level. I grew up feeling similar struggles and even though it wasn’t ~my story~, it felt really…