Love, Hate and Other Filters

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 01 Feb 2018

Member Reviews

This started out as a romance and then became something more! It takes a look at love, Islamophobia, and being a child of an immigrant family. It seemed to be a realistic look at what it must be like for a girl like Maya in this day and age. It was eye opening and enjoyable on many levels.
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I know this book has won awards and accolades, but I just didn't love it. It felt a little too contrived and predictable. I know I'm in the minority with this review.
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I was given free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.  

Muslim American teen Maya Aziz lives in a small town outside of Chicago where she often hides behind the lens of her camera.  On a daily basis Maya feels like she is living a double life; the expectations of her strict traditional parents directly contradict her life as a high school student.  Maya feels the pull from so many different sides; school, relationships, the clothes she all usually comes back to the fact that she is straddling these two worlds.  

Things get even more tricky when Maya finds out she has been accepted to NYU; her dream school.  She knows that there is no way her parents will actually let her leave, they already made it very clear that she needs to go to school locally.  Then there is the small factor of her parents trying to set up with a future husband, but Maya's heart belongs to Phil.  

Everything comes to a head when there is a terrorist attack in Chicago, causing the Islamiphobia in her small suburban town to come out and rear it's nasty ugly head.  Will Maya follow her heart and tell her parents what is going on in her world?  

I really enjoyed this book.  I loved getting pulled in to Maya's world and learning about what it's like to be an Indian Muslim American teen.  Maya was complicated, but relatable, and her story is one that all teens need to read in this day and age.  I highly recommend this book for all library collections.
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This wasn't my favorite book, but it also wasn't my least favorite book. The plot was not my favorite, and it took me longer to get through it because of some of the boring parts. However, I did like the character and her qualities. This book is still a good read for anyone wanting new and interesting insight on the Muslim culture.
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What I loved most about this book is the innocence of the characters. A traditional love story with a genuine young lady facing the cruelties of serious issues like racism and negotiating changing cultures. I believe it is important to see this world through the eyes of a modern Muslim and would certainly hope some of my students take time to explore the humanity of this very vibrant character. I loved the fact there were no devisive tactics used to shock and that the ending was not over simplified. 

A sweet love story, a thoughtful Bildungsroman and an enjoyable read.
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I was really interested in reading this book. I received a copy through NetGalley in exchange of an honest review.

Maya Aziz, the main character, is an Indian and a Muslim living in a small town in the United States, the only brown child at her school. She wants to be the Perfect Indian daughter her parents wish for, but she also has a passion for filming and takes a camera everywhere. Her only worries are getting the best shot, helping her crush with homework and gathering enough courage to tell her parents that she got accepted in her dream school NYU.

But then, there is a terrorist attack and everything changes. 

I liked this book because I could relate to Maya's feelings and annoyance about her over-protective parents. Also, the way she tried to hide behind her camera to escape. I thought Violet was a great character, for being loyal no matter what. 

On the other hand, the end seemed a bit rushed and some things didn't get resolved properly, which I found a little disappointing.
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I absolutely adored this book, which was both a bit of a delightful surprise and the first step in laying a foundation of affection for everything that comes after this!
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I was really looking forward to picking up Samira Ahmed's debut novel, Love, Hate & Other Filters because it featured a Muslim main character, took place in Illinois, and tackled Islamophobia. While I did like some aspects of the book and think it is worthwhile to read, I did have several issues with it. 

Maya Aziz wants to go to film school and attend NYU to pursue her dreams of being a documentary filmmaker. She secretly applied to NYU and got accepted, but her parents think she will attend a local college. With her parents expectations combined with anti-Muslim backlash from a recent terror attack threatens to derail Maya's dream. 
  I have conflicting thoughts about Maya. I admire her tenacity and her ambitions of perusing a life that is not of a traditional Indian woman (i.e. going to the medical, engineering, law fields of study). I also respect her insistence of establishing her independence, however she has little to no pride of her Indian culture and blames almost everything she thinks she can’t have on her cultural constraints and on the fact that she’s different. There were many times where I pictured her as a petulant child who stomped her foot and yelled whenever she was refused something she wanted without giving any consideration to her parents' point of view. Her repetitive phrase of wanting to be "normal" got on my nerves because it implied being anything but a white, Christian girl is abnormal. I also found it very hard to believe that Maya never felt isolated being the only Indian American Muslim at her school.
  While her Indian American identity is discussed or rather ranted about throughout the novel, there is little to no discussion of her Muslim identity. If it was not for the references of the Quran or going to the mosque made by her parents or her common Muslim last name of Aziz, the reader would not know of her Muslim identity. There is a moment in the book where Kareem, a potential love interest, drinks wine though it is forbidden in Islam to drink alcohol. It is laughed off that Kareem observes Islam in other aspects except this one really rubbed me the wrong way. I understand that author might be showing readers that people observe religion in their own ways, but this was a missed teaching moment. While Maya is not a religious person, a lot of the "constraints" she feels is closely tied to her religion. Her issues are very relevant to Muslim teens today and I wished they were talked about in the book. The author instead zeroes in on the romance aspect of the book, which fell totally apart for me. Phil, Maya's very bland love interest, and their drama took me out of the book. I kept waiting for something meaningful to happen. It is not until half way of the book that we see Maya being affected by Islamophobia in the book, both from the backlash of the terror attack and her parent's tighter restrictions. 
  I know that not every #ownvoices Muslim novel will not mirror my life and it is only an indication that we need more stories, but you can't write a book where religion is a central theme of the book and not talk about it. Personally, I felt very disappointed with the book and I understand why so many of my students returned the book without finishing it. I'm not saying Maya's story is unimportant, it is, but it barely skims the surface.
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Islamophobia is so present in our society today that I find it important to have teen books with Muslim main characters that can give us their opinion on the issue and make us understand how they feel living in a world in which they are often seen as ‘‘other’’, ‘‘illegal’’ and even ‘‘terrorist’’. 

This is then a story that matters. Maya, the seventeen-year-old Muslim-American heroine of this book, matters. Her voice is strong and her feelings are true. She sheds light where is needed and welcomes us, the reader, into her life with open arms. She is kind and patient, even when the world seems to be against her. She is important.

Now I can praise the author for discussing Islamophobia in a non-aggressive and effective manner all day, but unfortunately, we must also discuss the romance since it takes a lot of space in the story. This is understandable, seeing that Maya is seventeen—and most of us were thinking about love at that age as well. However, her juggling two boys—going after a boy that already has a girlfriend, while leading another one on—turned me off.

I can’t exactly blame Maya for letting herself fall in love with someone in a relationship, as she is young and the heart wants what it wants, but I was not charmed by the romance. Maya was, obviously, and I say good for her, but seeing her with the other boys really didn’t make me feel any particular way, except a tiny bit annoyed by the fact that she didn’t feel more remorseful about spending a considerate amount of time with a boy already in a relationship. The girl, who is in the dark about her boyfriend’s dates with Maya, deserves some respect, even if she’s not The One. 

Mixed thoughts, mixed emotions. Honest and relevant, but not without flaws.
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Maya has big plans for her future, an aspiring film maker she lives behind her camera capturing her senior year of high school. Her parents however want her to find a nice Muslim boy to marry and to follow their dreams for her future. After a tragic suicide bombing Maya and her parents become targets of hate and Maya is smothered by her parents fear for her safety. Her dreams are quickly pulled beyond her grasp and she fights to keep her head up. 
A powerful debut novel Samira reveals the difficulties of growing up stuck between two cultures and how quickly fear and ignorance can change how people interact with her and how she interacts with them.
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I think this book handled being a teen and struggling with parental expectations really well. The friendships and relationships were really fleshed out and the writing was very easy to fade into. I didn't care about the characters as much as I usually do in contemporary books, but I think that others would really enjoy this.
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Summary: Maya Aziz is a seventeen-year-old Indian-American Muslim living in Chicago (shout-out to my hometown, yes!).  On one hand, being a "good Muslim daughter," means that her parents would like her to attend college close to home and marry a suitable Muslim boy but Maya dreams for much more than that. She wants to attend film school in New York and pursue a creative career. As her senior year winds down and Maya seems to be getting all that she wants in love and more, a horrific attack on Springfield, Illinois, spawns a nasty sense of Islamophobia within Maya's community which, not only causes fear and hatred, but pushes Maya's parents into protection mode.  In the end, Maya has some choices to make and much of the control is out of her hands.

My opinion: I enjoyed this book particularly because it reminded me loosely of "I'm Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter" (Erika L. Sanchez) and that one ranks amongst my top 5 favorite young adult books of all time. In fact, this one is similar except centered around an Indian-American Muslim teenager versus a Mexican-American teen.

Although I am not an Indian-American Muslim, I am able to relate to Maya because I understand the precarious balance of pleasing my parents and cultural identity while also pursuing my own dreams. When it comes down to it, our parents want the best for us, right? And, as teens, we don't always see that. But, when do they protect us TOO much? Will they EVER be able to let the reins loose? These are critical questions that Ahmed explores in this book. 

On top of it, she adds another realistic layer--Islamophobia--which runs rampant and ever-existent in our country. The news has been riddled with shootings at schools, the YouTube building, etc. and whenever the shooter seems to be any shade of "brown," there is an automatic assignation of "terrorist" added on to the attack.  But, when it's a "white" person, this is never the case. It's a sad, disgusting, and hate-filled situation in which we find ourselves and Ahmed shows how attacks like this can individually affect, in this case, the Indian-American Muslim community.

The romance didn't kill me because it was just the right amount for this book and it was appropriate for the story--nothing too forced. 

Thank you, Samira Ahmed, for adding another book to the ever-growing DIVERSE young adult canon. Can't wait to recommend this one to my students.
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This book definitely gives all the feels. It's also a timely book, and I look forward to recommending it to students.
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Another great YA book that speaks to the need for stories about different cultures and people. This book should be paired with The Hate U Give as a must-read.
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What a great read! I honestly didn't expect that. It explores issues of race and identity in a very approachable way for teenagers. It's easy to empathize with Maya who is torn between pleasing her parents and traditions and her pursuit of the American dream. I also liked the structure which takes into account the perspective other immigrants and even that of a terrorist. It plays a bit with our preconceived notions of Islam and terrorism, but it doesn't preach or simplify complex issues. There's also a considerable amount of romance, which is borderline cheesy, but I think the target readership will enjoy. A page turner about emancipation that remains optimistic despite some serious issues!
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This is a fabulous contemporary YA title, focusing not just on an Indian-American teen, but also sensitively portraying the consequences of knee jerk Islamaphobia and deadly white supremacism.

Beyond this, however, Maya is a wonderful character, sarcastic and relatable. Her culture is portrayed lightly, but refreshingly—I loved learning about it. If this is a sign to come from the ride of diverse voices in YA, readers have wonderful books to wait for as they release.
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Note: This unbiased review is given in exchange for an ARC from Netgalley. This review will not contain specific spoilers but does assume you've read the book. Includes Islamophobia. 

I see here that there are some ~mixed feelings~ about the representation in this book. As a Muslim millennial, I'm going to add my two cents to that.

"Maya is only Muslim in name" makes me shrug, because her feelings on being Muslim were exactly like my feelings of being Muslim, as a teen. My parents don't go to mosque; they're Sufis. I've never been to a mosque. I am still Muslim. My parents know I occasionally drink. I am still Muslim. I've eaten pork before, though I avoid it as much as I can.

I. Am. Still. Muslim. So is Maya, because as a 17 year old, that's what she knows, that's how she identifies. Just because she doesn't go to mosque or discuss the conflicts of her also being American doesn't mean she's not Muslim. This isn't a book about how she feels about her faith, whether she really feels it at all. It's a book about being a child to immigrants, growing up in an Islamophobic world, and trying to balance her parents' expectations with her own desires.

Maya feels like a first generation immigrant, growing up in America, whose parents are Muslim, whose cultural identity is also hinged on Islam. She feels real to me. She feels like /me/ at her age. That resonated with me on a deep level.

I'm not Indian; I'm Iranian. My roommate for four years was Pakistani, and Maya's parents in this book are a splitting image of them. People are upset that Maya's mother is a stereotype; my response is to tilt my head and shrug. They might feel so. I can say that I know at least one person whose mother was represented to a T. I know that Maya's parents overlapped with my parents in many real ways. I know that the thoughts about marriage and Maya's conversations with her aunt about her future were ones that I've had with my friends.

Maya's relationship with her parents didn't come off as rude to me; it came off as a teen to immigrant, Muslim parents. Okay, maybe a bit rude, but again, /real/. I was just like her in many ways (minus the begin super hot and sneaking out). Could there have been some more guilt on her part? It certainly existed, and maybe there could have been more. The story wasn't about her relationship with her parents, though. 

More than anything, this was a YA romance, which is why I took off a star. I mean, they felt spot-on for how I felt as a teen, having feelings for boys I knew my parents wouldn't approve of. But I'm not a big YA contemporary reader, and while those parts were fine, they didn't do it for me. I would say the same of probably any other YA book that has romance as a heavy part of it. I think I would have enjoyed the book more if it wasn't a romance, but that's only because, again, I'm not a big YA contemporary/romance person. (I was rooting for Kareem, though, because I'm wary of white boys. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ Phil was fine as a character, but I wish Kareem had come back. That would be my only real criticism for the story on the page; I wish Kareem had returned.)

But I loved this book. I saw the Islamophobia around me printed on the page, the tangible fears of "will I be next" in words. I texted my mother while I was reading it and told her and my dad to read it. This isn't a "this is what it is like to be a Muslim teen struggling with parents and faith in America" book. This is a "this is what it means to be a child to immigrants who deals with Islamophobia" book. Those are different things. 

I don't begrudge the Muslim readers who came in here hoping to see themselves on the page and disappointed that they didn't. I know that I did, and that I saw my very-real fears written there, too. I deeply appreciated and loved this book, despite the romance, because the parts that I connected with were ones I'd never seen written before.

If you're not a Muslim reader, don't go in here expecting to see a Muslim teen grappling with being Muslim in America. Again, that's not what this book is about. This book is a YA romance set in an immigrant household that deals with Islamophobia. Knowing that might temper your expectations in that regard. 

I highly, highly recommend this book, especially for people who were the Mayas of this world—trying to balance being first generation with what the world presents to us. This is a book I needed more as an adult than I did as a teen, and that's okay with me. It was a joy and pleasure to read.
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Ah, and what filters they are! Samira Ahmed’s “Love, Hate & Other Filters” starts like a classic YA romance...the pressures of senior year, the crush on the All-American (whatever that means) football star, the sarcastic BFF. But things get turned upside down when shaped by the filters of protagonist Maya’s identity as an Indian-American Muslim in the 21st century. She experiences Islamophobic threats, pushes back against her smothering conservative parents....and learns how to swim, damn it! Maya is strong, passionate and easy to root for as she traverses this tough emotional terrain.

That being said, I did feel that the presentation of Islamaphobia as an isolated incident by a clear “bad guy” could have been made a bit more complex. I did appreciate that the many, varied pressures made her a sympathetic (but by no means weak) character in this context though.

A great #ownvoices pick for any YA shelf or discussion group. Bonus: swoony romance.
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An interesting read, I enjoyed the focus on her conflicting identity as Maya deals with family, education and her future. There’s important dialogue within the story but the romance and plot didn’t grip me as much as I thought it would. But I'll recommend to many.
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3.5/5 stars

Maya is an Indian-Muslim senior in high school who wants to be a filmmaker. She tries to do her best by her parents, but when a terrorist attack attack happens in the big city to their suburb, her parents --in their concern for her and her safety-- tighten the rather loose strings of freedom (for desi immigrant parents, anyway). Maya feels so constricted by the strings that she lashes out and the consequences lead to a very difficult decision. 

I appreciated and enjoyed the peek into Maya's culture. Although her family isn't very strict in their Islamic faith, it does hold some sway over the family, especially when confronted with danger. Additionally, it is so imperative for us hegemonically white Americans to see the point of view of the oppressed when faced with white supremacy. It's books like Love, Hate, and Other Filters that will help spread compassion for people of diverse backgrounds and ethnicities. 

Finally, Maya's obsession with filmmaking add a flair to the story that helped bump up its interest-level. Without that underlying motif, Love, Hate, and Other Filters would have felt flat. In fact, I would have liked to see the motif show up more often and more strongly, not just as a easy solution to the [spoiler].
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