Also by this author: Saints and Misfits
Published by Salaam Reads on April 30, 2019
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult Fiction
FTC Disclosure: I received this book for free from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
LOVE FROM A TO Z Review
S.K. Ali’s Love From A to Z is an incredibly moving story that just had so many emotions running through my head the entire time I was reading. Sometimes it made me sad, sometimes it made me angry and frustrated, but at times, it also made me smile. I love that Ali’s storytelling is so powerful and authentic that it can evoke so many emotions. Love From A to Z was such a great read for me because the story just has so many layers, each one equally meaningful and compelling. It features a blossoming friendship between the main characters, Adam and Zayneb, but then it also tackles weighty topics such as Islamophobia. Finally, it features a character who is trying to cope with the life changing diagnosis of multiple sclerosis he has just received.
I became attached to Adam and Zayneb right away. They’re both such great kids, but they each have the weight of the world on their shoulders. Adam has just been diagnosed with MS, the disease that took his mother’s life. Adam remembers how crushed his father was when she died, so now he’s afraid to tell his father that he now has the same disease. I loved that he wanted to protect his father so badly, but my heart just broke for Adam thinking about him trying to keep such a huge thing secret.
Zayneb tugged at my heartstrings too. As the only Muslim student in her class, she is a target of blatant Islamophobia, especially from the supposed authority figures in the school. I hated that it kept happening, but I was in constant admiration of Zayneb because she refused to just sit there and take it. Instead, she is fierce and brave, standing up for herself and speaking out against the hatred that keeps getting thrown in her face. The situation at school is especially frustrating though because every time she stands up for herself, she somehow ends up being the one to get in trouble, while the bigot gets off scot free. When Zayneb actually gets suspended from school for sticking up for herself, her parents send her to stay with her aunt in Qatar for a while to cool off and to try to come up with ways to fight Islamophobia without doing things that could negatively impact her own future.
Adam and Zayneb meet on the plane to Qatar, and the chemistry was instant. I was immediately rooting for them to become friends (and hopefully more than friends) because I loved both characters so much and they just seemed like they would be perfect for each other. I was also rooting for them to deepen their connection because they each just needed someone in their corner so badly.
Aside from these two characters and their moving journeys, I was also a huge fan of the way the story was formatted. Inspired by famous art entitled Marvels and Oddities, both Adam and Zayneb keep journals where they record marvels and oddities they encounter in their lives every day. The story unfolds through these journal entries, which just makes Adam and Zayneb’s journeys all the more intimate and personal as they each battle the demons they’re facing.
S.K. Ali’s Love From A to Z is a book that I’d love to recommend to everyone. It’s a beautiful story about family, friendship, love, and support, as well as a hard-hitting story that strikes a powerful blow against Islamophobia.
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.