Saturday, 6 January 2018

Love, Hate & Other Filters

Maya wants to be a film-maker but her Indian-born parents have other ideas for her. They'd also love for her to find a nice Indian boy, and Kareem seems the perfect choice. Maya is slightly annoyed that she doesn't hate him on sight, but she faces up to the fact that she'd much rather be with her childhood crush, football star Phil. Who isn't exactly available right now.

A meet-cute with the suitable Indian boy. The hot football player at my locker. I feel queasy. I was joking with myself earlier, but now I'm wondering how it's possible that I've stepped into the most predictable teen rom-com ever. How is this my real life?

Maya sees her life through a lens, sometimes literally. She's the go-to person to film her extended family's weddings and dreads the day she'll be in front of the camera. She's just not ready for that yet, no matter what her pushy parents want. There are plenty of references to romance films, as she compares her life to those. But basically, she is really into film.

This was pitched as a girl facing Islamophobia following a terrorist attack and to be honest I was disappointed in this aspect of the book. One person in her town has a problem with her (blurb suggests everyone turns on her, this is not the case). No one should have to deal with harassment or assault of course, but it only occasionally touched on the insidious fear of day-to-day prejudice, often flamed by the media after such attacks. She worries about her dad being stopped at the airport but soon goes back to thinking about college and boys. Her family are treated with respect and dignity by the local police when their property is targeted (as they should be, but we all know this is often not the case).

There are passages running up to the terrorist that are from a different perspective, that of the terrorist himself. I found Samira Ahmed was generous towards her fictional terrorist, recognising that he was a product of his life experiences, that things could have gone differently for him had someone stepped in earlier. These parts added a real edge to the book, along side the romance.

It's selfish and horrible, but in this terrible moment, all I want is to be a plain old American teenager. Who can simply mourn without fear. Who doesn't share last names with a suicide bomber. Who goes to dances and can talk to her parents about anything and can walk around without always being anxious. And who isn't a presumed terrorist first and an American second.

Maya generally seems more upset about not being able to follow her dream. Her parents reaction to the wider Islamophobia (I'm assuming a lot went on off-page, it's told from Maya's perspective after all) is to try and protect her by keeping her close. They seem quite traditional Indian parents whilst Maya is a modern American girl (and not a devout Muslim).

Overall it's quite a sweet romance, which I can't really call fluffy because of the other content. It's kind of a mish-mash of things, and I'm not sure it all worked for me, but I still enjoyed it. I also felt her parents were a bit harsh on her at the end, they seemed kinder people than their actions.

Love, Hate & Other Filters is published by Hot Key Books and will be available in paperback and ebook editions from 16th January 2018. Thanks go to the publisher for providing a copy for review via NetGalley.

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Disclosure: I received a copy of this book free of charge for review purposes only. Receipt of a book does not guarantee a review or endorsement. My reviews are my honest opinion and are not biased for the purpose of personal gain.

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