Samira Ahmed's debut, LOVE, HATE & OTHER FILTERS is one of those books that doesn't leave your mind after you've consumed it.
I say "consumed" because that's how this book is best read: all at once, inhaled and then savored. It leaves a pleasant taste lingering in the back of your mind, a book hangover but nicer.
According to the synopsis:
Seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz can’t wait to graduate from her small town high school. She dreams of studying film in New York City and kissing a boy (or, maybe two). Her parents forbid both. While she wrestles with parental expectations and her own desires, Maya’s world is rocked by a horrifying act of domestic terrorism that ignites an outbreak of Islamophobia that threatens to alter the course of her life forever.
So already I'm feeling this book. I mean, hello, desire to move to New York City and wanting to kiss boys? The book may as well be about me! Well, except for some differences: Maya is into photography and I'm a writer; her parents don't want her to do what she wants and mine were relatively supportive; she's Muslim and I'm Christian.
These differences between me and Maya really only made me love the book more; there's something delicious, to me, about reading a book that stars someone with core differences but to whom I can still relate on such a deep level.
As I read the book, I was fully captivated by the contemporary YA storyline; when the act of domestic terrorism occurs, I had this fleeting worry that it would change the book. It did; it made it a little darker, a little more real, as Maya has to deal with Islamophobia. But Samira Ahmed does an incredible job at weaving the darkness into the story without letting it overwhelm you, and she planted me squarely in Maya's shoes in a situation I'll never experience but which I feel the emotions of as clearly as if I were living them.
That's what a book is supposed to do; it's supposed to let you live another experience so you can comprehend it better.
But this book isn't fabulous only because of how Samira handles darkness; it's also a beautiful, romantic tale of passion and dreams. It has lovely moments of lightness to counteract the hard things Maya goes through.
I'm such a fan of this book, you guys! It was published Jan. 16 (this past Tuesday!) by Soho Teen, and you can order a copy yourself if you feel the desire to read something brilliantly written, emotionally moving, and also just plain adorable.