Falling in love shouldn't be this difficult... Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali (Review)

Welcome! This book, guys... it's adorable and funny
and has so much heart! Read my full review below...

Love from A to Z
By S.K. Ali 
YA Contemporary
Hardcover, Audiobook & ebook, 352 Pages
April 30th 2010 by Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers


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.

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My Review

LOVE FROM A TO Z is one of those stories that will stick with readers long after they've finished the last page. It's an interesting blend of humor, friendship, heartbreak, struggle, family, racism, and romance. Add to that characters easy to relate to and love and a plot that is full of heart, and you have a contemporary YA that readers will love.

I loved these characters! Zayneb and Adam are so very different with just a few things that connect them, but those things are powerful as is the actual connection they both feel. I thought their differences made them into such good choices for each other, kind of balancing the other out. I could relate to so much of the prejudice that Zayneb faced and the somewhat obliviousness of Adam with many issues that Zayneb and her family dealt with. I was so happy that this story showed how people can be open and those who we may think are enemies are just uninformed and can become allies. I also could relate in many ways religiously, even though I'm not the same religion. It's so rare to find religious characters in YA books or in fiction generally. It was a very enjoyable part of this story. What I loved most was the humor and sweetness between Zayneb and Adam, and the how the romance unfolds in this story. 

I also thought the story brought up some interesting topics. It's hard to want justice and to be angry, but not to turn into what you are fighting against. Racism and prejudice does not discriminate by race, ethnicity, or religion. It can be found in all. I remember one time when in one of my college classes we were all presenting papers and a black girl showed so much hatred for white people that she was racist and then two presenters later, also black, was the exact opposite. This story made me think about that. I liked that it brought some issues forward that not all readers may be aware of.

There was very little I didn't like about this story. Some of the dialogue was a little rough in places and could have been smoothed out. Some of Zayneb's anger bothered me when she used it on those she shouldn't have and when it consumed her. I also would have loved it cleaner.

In the end, was it what I wished for? I really enjoyed reading this! The mix of humor, heartbreak, hope, friendship, and romance was so perfect. I adored the characters and I felt like it prompted some good thinking. Definitely one I'd recommend to contemporary YA fans.

Content: Some innuendo, swearing, sexual references.
Source: I received a complimentary copy from the publisher, which did not require a positive review nor affect my review in any way.

About the Author

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.

Have you read her other book, Saints and Misfits? Will you or have you read this one?

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