Title: Love, Hate & Other Filters
Author: Samira Ahmed
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Publisher: Hot Key Books in 2018
Love, Hate and Other Filters is the story of a young Muslim woman growing up in America. Maya is a clever and ambitious 17 year old who has a passion for film-making. She struggles to balance her own creative passions and hope for the future with those of her pretty traditional Indian parents. After a terrorist attack in a close-by city takes place, Maya deals with prejudice and Islamophobia from parts of the community she lives in.
I received this book from Readers First in exchange for an honest review! First off, after reading it, I would say that I am probably not the completely ideal target market for this book. I am 25 so – yes – still technically a young adult but definitely not in my teens anymore which is the age group I think this will really appeal to. In addition young adult and specifically young adult romance is not my favourite genre. That being said, there were parts of this book that I really liked and admired and I always like reading something out of the ordinary for me. I feel wholeheartedly that the author, Samira Ahmed, had very good intentions whilst writing this novel. That is clear from the letter from the author at the beginning of the book. She wants to bring to attention the extremely timely and important issues of Islamophobia and racism in our modern world. This is an honourable intention and she manages very well to include these issues in a story that will appeal to young people, especially those about to embark upon their adult life.
Maya is a charming and intelligent main character who struggles with normal teenage decisions and complexes. There is quite a lot of focus on her romantic life, and this is where I struggled. I’m not a fan of romance that is even remotely cheesy or sappy. The love story in Love, Hate & Other Filters is at times cheesy. This is self-aware cheese as the author and character is very much aware of some of the clichés that take place. Unfortunately even with this awareness I find romance portrayed like this not particularly enjoyable. That being said, I think there are certainly people that it will appeal to and I am in no way trying to put anyone off giving this book a try as there are some really good aspects of it. The hatred that Maya and her family encounter because of the possible actions of someone in no way related to them or their religion is shocking and deserves attention. I think that if young people read this book and become more knowledgeable about the difficulties faced by innocent people of certain races or religious beliefs then that can only be a good thing. I thought that the passages between chapters narrating much darker events than those going on in the main part of the book gave an intense feeling of foreboding within the readers mind. I also think the author perfectly captured the voice of a 17 year old girl full of hope and questions about what her life will be like. The first person narrative puts you right in Maya’s head and her voice is interesting and at times self-deprecating. I admired the clear passion Maya has for her film-making and this is a running theme prevalent in the entire story. This does give the book a somewhat cinematic nature at times and it is excellent that Maya’s hopes for her future career are just as important as her romantic interests.
Overall I think this is a charming novel about a brave and independent young woman who faces some difficult challenges in her life. There is fun and humour in this book as well as some darkness and it talks about something that needs to be heard. I think the author achieves this pretty well.