Monday, May 13, 2019

Review: LOVE FROM A TO Z by S.K. Ali

by S.K. Ali
Publication Date: April 30, 2019
Published by Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Pages: 352
Source: Publisher | Netgalley


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.

My Thoughts

For me, reading S.K. Ali's Author Note and her acknowledgements left just as much of an impact as reading the Adam and Zayneb's story. In her author's note for LOVE FROM A TO Z, S.K. Ali wrote:

"Onward, readers, into a better world born from empathy, lit by the sparks of truth, courage, and love. "

My experience reading LOVE FROM A TO Z exemplifies why reading is a huge part of my life. I turn to books to make sense of the world, to see myself and to see others. I turn to books to seek refuge, to find strength, and to fall in love. I hope readers experience all of these things when they read LOVE FROM A TO Z.

What I loved:

  • Adam and Zayneb's differing approaches to writing in their Marvels and Oddities journals and what they consider a marvel and an oddity. We get to understand their personalities through their writing
  • The breaking of the fourth way - when the narrator speaks to the reader clarifying Adam and Zayneb's interpretations of situations
  • Zayneb and her aunt - I love how her aunt supports her and helps her effectively channel her anger and frustrations
  • The dynamics of the friendships between Zayneb and her friends back home and the new friends she makes in Doha
  • A flashback to a tender moment between Adam and his mother making french fries and her giving him permission to cry. This is possibly one of my favorite scenes in the book.

Favorite Quotes:
Maybe that’s what living is— recognizing the marvels and oddities around you.

What I loved most is that LOVE TO A TO Z is a love story through and through. Even with all of the hurt and pain and frustration and anger Adam and Zayneb experience (each in their own way), they find a way to be open and vulnerable and try to give what they are feeling for each other a chance.

Absolutely wonderful.

Disclaimer:  I received this e-ARC from the publisher for review.  I was not compensated in any way other than the e-ARC provided. Thoughts and opinions are my own.

Author Bio

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.

Blog Tour Schedule

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
Sat, May 4 – Book Scents
Tues, May 7 – As Told by Zaheerah
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

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