LiP Romancelandia

Love From A to Z Cover
Synopsis from the Creator:

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.

Review: Love from A to Z, by S.K. Ali

[fa icon="calendar"] Aug 16, 2019 9:45:00 AM / by Suzanne Krohn

Love from A to Z is an unconventionally structured romance, narrated in dual POV but also through the lens of a third party who is (with permission from the characters) telling their story in large part by connecting the dots between their journal entries. For the most part, it reads like a typical dual-perspective romance, but there are a few breaks where the author breaks the fourth wall and talks about how two people can see the same event in totally different ways. It fits the story, especially because the two main characters meet while traveling, come from different backgrounds, and there's a distance between them the entirety of the book. They're bound by certain things, such as Islam and their Marvels and Oddities journals, but most of the book consists of them figure out how to bridge the gaps between their many differences.

Zayneb is a high school senior from Indiana and Adam has dropped out of college in London and returned to his dad and sister where he grew up in Doha, Qatar. Zayneb is unfairly suspended from school for a "threatening" drawing she made in the class of an Islamophobe teacher. They meet as he is returning to his family and she is on her way to visit her aunt for a couple of weeks. The two of them see the world very differently, in part because Zayneb is visibly Muslim (she wears a hijab) and Adam is not immediately assumed to be due to his Chinese heritage. Zayneb has experienced Islamophobia her entire life in The United States and is self-described as always angry. She hopes to learn peace during her trip, but that's not quite how it works out. Adam is peaceful by nature, always looking for the beauty in things, but his laid back view makes Zayneb feel like he doesn't care about justice. In the end, there's a beautiful line about how Adam isn't great at confrontation, but he is great at supporting. He's basically saying that he won't be as angry (passionate) as Zayneb, but he will be there to listen and to fill her world with beauty. They'll balance each other out.

There are definitely messages in this book, such as how mass protests might not work, but change can happen on an individual level. How drone strikes are allowed to continue and to murder innocent civilians because of Islamophobia. How even if a teacher isn't ripping off a student's hijab, they can be spreading the sort of subtle prejudice that enables entire populations to view others as inferior, backwards, lesser.

And it's absolutely a romance. It's a sweet romance that, were it in the adult romance category and not YA, would be placed in the Inspirational sub-genre. Yes, Adam has multiple sclerosis. Yes, it's a difficult illness and a major part of of his life. And yes, they have enough hope and love to get them through.

 

Content Warnings: Islamophobia, parental death from MS and then child has the same disease, grief, death of a grandparent by drone strike, on-page MS flare-up

 

Suzanne received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher, but purchased and read it on audio.

 

Topics: review