Love from A to Z is a sweet story that has just the right amount of awkward romantic scenes balanced with one of my favorite characters in YA lit – Zayneb. Love from A to Z just hit the sweet spot because Zayneb struggles with her anger and trying to be ‘less angry’ and if that doesn’t sum up my last year I don’t know what does.
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.
(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)
Love from A to Z is multifaceted book that effortlessly moves between anger, fear, swooning, grief, and inspiration. It’s a book about Islamophobia, about the act of resistance, and finding the marvel’s all around us. Zayneb is one of my favorite characters in all of YA literature because her struggle with her anger and passion is one that I’ve been struggling with the last year – witnessing the injustice around you without letting the anger take over.
Love from A to Z is told through dual point of views – Adam and Zayneb – and we are able to experience Adam’s fear of disclosing his MS diagnosis to his dad, as well as the full breadth of Zayneb’s thoughts. One of the things I loved about Love from A to Z is this discussion of Zayneb’s anger. Does she have to mellow out? Change her methods of resistance? Fresh from her suspension due to her Islamophobic teacher, Zayneb is questioning the way the world works, the justice of the world.
I love Zayneb. She calls people out on their cultural appropriation and burns with this similar rage – this inability to witness the injustices and prejudices as a bystander. It’s a passion that gets under your skin and demands to be acknowledged. A fire that fights an everlasting battle. And Zayneb experiences this passion, but also pain because her unwillingness to let go of oppression is born from her own experiences of Islamophobia. It’s about the way it grates at your spirits in big ways – like when Zayneb’s scarf is tied to a bus stop, or the little ways and looks.
Meet Cute Galore
At the same time Love from A to Z is a love story. It’s a story about two empathetic, kind-hearted teens falling in love against all odds in a world full of marvels and oddities. A book about trusting that instinct, that thrill in your stomach, and following it wherever it takes you, letting the marvels of the world take over. It’s about the pressure Adam feels in keeping his family and father together, his fear of his MS diagnosis and what it will mean for his future, as well as confronting his wavering future. And it’s about Zayneb and her opening her heart to the marvels in the world, to finding her own practices of self-care, and to embracing the other side of anger.
Love from A to Z is a gorgeous book inside and out. It’s a story that focuses on appreciating both the marvels and oddities of life. Throughout the book Zayneb questions how to resist and how to keep our passion from burning up. Written almost from the outside, Ali takes us on a journey of activism, friendship, and finding someone who challenges and supports us – of opening our heart to what we might not have seen before.
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.
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
Mon, May 6 – Mary Had A Little Book Blog
Tues, May 7 – As Told by Zaheerah
Weds, May 8 – The Infinite Limits of Love
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