Books to Read, Love, and Share: Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
In Love, Hate and Other Filters, American-born Maya Aziz has the same concerns as any 17-year-old: school, boys, and going to the college of her dreams (NYU) to pursue her goal of becoming a filmmaker. Her Indian parents would prefer their daughter go to college closer to home (Chicago), and definitely would prefer her meet and marry a good Muslim boy. Tensions abound, but they know they can work through it, as a family. But when a hate crime is committed hundreds of miles away, the impact still reverberates close to home. How will this affect Maya’s relationships? Her health? Her college plans?
First of all, I LOVED this book. It was a quick read with fun, well-developed characters and deft writing. I’ve read the whole “I see my life as a movie” thing before, but Ahmed makes it feel new and fresh. Maya’s cinematic knowledge balances her naïveté in life and challenged me at every turn. And while not the point of the book, I learned a lot about Indian food, culture, and politics.
I enjoyed the characterization in this novel more than anything else. Ahmed develops a strong family for Maya, which doesn’t always happen in YA novels. I adored her aunt Hina, and the interactions between her and Maya’s mother.
Additionally, there is also some suspense in this novel, which unfolds through an interstitial narrative. Any reader who has read the summary anticipates a hate crime, and we wait as it develops through the interwoven snippets.
In the Classroom:
Like I said, there is deft writing here. You can turn to any page of Love, Hate, and Other Filters and find mentor writing material. Check out this paragraph from the opening wedding Maya attends (and films):
“The vows are simple, the same kind of pledges I’ve heard at weddings of every faith. Except at the end, there is no kiss. I close in for the money shot, anyway, hoping for a moment of rebellion from Ayesha and Saleem. But no. No public kissing allowed. Full stop. The no-kissing is anticlimactic, but some taboos cross oceans, packed tightly into the corners of immigrant baggage, tucked away with packets of masala and memories of home.”
Pacing? Check. Voice? Check. Characterization? Check. Cultural tidbit? Check and check.
You could also include this novel as a lit circle choice. Choose other books highlighting first-generation Americans, or focus on protagonists that have a different college dream from their parents. Use it with books where the protagonist has to overcome racism or bullying. Any way you work it, students will love reading this novel.
This book is part of the #OwnVoices movement, which indicates that the author is a member of the marginalized community depicted in the text. In this case, that means that Samira Ahmed is also a Muslim Indian-American and shares that with Maya. As of 2017, only 28% of children’s/YA books represent people of color, so it’s important that we make space for these stories. (If you’re interested in reading more about the diversity gap, check out this article.)
In conclusion, Love, Hate, and Other Filters is a hands-down win for any classroom or school library. The narrative voice is funny, engaging, and genuine, and the message is one of empowerment and working toward your dreams.
If you decide to purchase this book for your classroom library, I’d be grateful if you used my affiliate link. I’ll put the small commission towards the upkeep of my site to bring you more great content. 🙂