Love, Hate and Other Filters Book Review

 

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*Major spoilers in the review*

Love, Hate and Other Filters was a book that I have been excited to read since I heard about it last year. I had heard a lot about it being a book about a Muslim teen and that for me was why I was so excited. I would finally see someone who was like me.

This book is about a Americal-Indian Muslim teenage girl, Maya Aziz who while she is in her final year of high school is victim to a hate crime after a terrorist attack happens near her small town. This book tackles some heavy topics, hate crime, islamophobia, racism.

I have such mixed feelings and I’m so torn as I really  wanted to like it but I think my expectations and how it was advertised left me feeling underwhelmed and just not liking the story or characters at all.

I felt like it was basically a fluff romance book for 90% of the time with some islamophobia and hate crime added in. It was also heavily advertised as a Muslim teen book yet Maya neither talks or acts on anything to do with her religion. The way it was advertised I was expecting there to be references that she is Muslim and she makes decisions or is struggling or something to do with her religion. But she never mentions it not even once. Her Indian culture is mentioned in her clothes or food or weddings etc but Indian culture is not the same as her religion.

There is even a scene where she’s at dinner with a boy that her parents have set her up with to meet and he orders wine and then says at least he isn’t eating pork. It can’t be justified by saying he doesn’t eat pork and it’s not even mentioned that just because he is drinking it (that’s his choice) it’s not actually allowed in Islam.

I also didn’t like the insta-love between her and Kareem and then the weird love triangle that continued for the first half of the book. I felt the fluff romance was far too dominating in the book and it just isnt my thing so I was really put off by it.

I also didn’t like Maya, she was a spoiled selfish brat. She was irresponsible and immature and acted like a 12 year old. She snuck around doing things behind her parents back and then was annoyed with her parents when they were upset with her about it. She didn’t tell them that she applied to NYU and when she dithery did eventually agree to let her go. Then after they were victims of a hate crime her parents were scared and changed their minds about letting her go. Instead of trying to maturely speak to them about it, she runs away! I understand that she has her passion and dreams but running away is no way to solve it especially in the middle of her parents dealing with the hate crime and fearing for their safety.

I felt like her parents were unfairly portrayed. She always complained about how her parents never understood her but I never actually read a single moment in which she actually tried to have a conversation and explain anything to them.

And throughout the story I didn’t see much character development aside from her finally telling her parents that she wants to go to NYU.

I also didn’t really see the relevance how the point of view from the bomber was relevant to the story. It was confusing to read and didn’t add to the story.

Okay so I know I’ve spoken a lot about what I didn’t like but I am glad that topics like islamophobia and hate crime are being discussed in books. It is needed, we need diverse books and diverse characters. And I’m glad there are more and more authors who are writing about these topics.

I also liked that there was references to Indian culture and I also really liked Maya’s friend Violet. She was a good and loyal friend. She defended and protected and supported Maya throughout the book. And I do wish we had got to see more of her.

I’m also glad that the author showed how much of an impact a hate crime can have on a family. It made them fear for their safety and how emotionally distressing it was. It showed how unfair it was to hold someone else responsible for a crime someone else commits.

Overall this book wasn’t for me. The advertising made it seem like the book was something it was not and this book was not for me. If you do like stories which has lots of romance then definitely give it a read but it was not my kind of book.

Rating: 2.5/5

 

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The Lines We Cross Book Review

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*Contains mild spoilers*

The Lines We Cross by Randa Abdel-Fattah is set in Australia and follows the story of Mina and Michael. Mina is an Afghani-Australian who had arrived in Australia as a refugee as a young child. Michael comes from a family whose parents are opposed to allowing Muslim refugees into the country.

It is told from both their points of view so we get to see the story unforld from both their perspectives. Mina is given a scholarship to attend a private school and this is where their paths cross. It causes them to think and reflect on what they have grown up being told as the truth.

I really loved this book! Not only was it a great story but the message is incredibly important. As this topic is relevant no matter where you live in the world. We all hear about how refugees are trying to escape their war torn country and are trying to get their family to safety.we hear how some want to help and others are opposed to allowing them to enter. It shows all these differing opinions through Mina and Michael and their friends and family.

Although this story has a romance that develops between Mina and Michael after they initially dislike each other. Their developing feelings for each other is what furthers the story but the political issues that are interwoven into the story which also creates obstacles for them, makes it a much deeper and compelling story.

The character development for Michael was so great, he starts off as a teenager who just goes along with whatever his parents say, blindly believing them but by the end he has learnt to reflect and think deeply for himself. My main issue was with Mina’s character development where I feel there wasn’t as much development for her. I feel her main purpose was to show Michael that his beliefs may not be correct.

I also loved the friendships in this especially between Mina and Paula. It balances the serious issues with more lighthearted topics. There’s a scene where they have a LoTR marathon including cosplaying as the characters. It was such a fun scene and I loved that they were slightly nerdy.

I would definitely recommend everyone reading this book. Not only is the message so important it’s such a great book to read. I read it in two evenings. I couldn’t put the book down!

Rating: 4.5/5

If you do read it let me know what you think!

Managing my Anxiety

This post is something I have been wanting to write for a while now but I haven’t had a chance. I suffer from anxiety and depression and over the years I’ve been slowly learning how to manage it better so I can live a better quality life. So I wanted to share some of the ways in which I have learnt to manage my anxiety as it may help someone else too.
This is obviously not going to magically make everything fine but it still helps. I have good days and bad days and days when nothing seems to work but I have found that I am doing better than I was a couple years ago. I don’t have as many panic attacks and my low days don’t seem to last as long.
Of course these things may not work for everyone, I had to go through trial and error to see what worked well for me.

1) Counselling – Not seeking help from professionals was probably what delayed me in being able to manage my anxiety sooner. I was completely lost and didn’t know how to help myself but I attended regular counselling sessions on the recommendation of my doctor and it was the first time I felt I had help in learning to cope. There’s several different types of counselling and I attended group therapy where the focus was teaching us to manage our anxiety and teaching us what anxiety is and how it affects us. We were given practical techniques every week and lots of information. And it really helped me.

2) Someone to talk to – this is someone who is close to you and someone you trust. For me it’s my husband, who I can go to and say I’m struggling and feeling like this. He doesn’t judge me or tell me to “get over it” he listens to me and will try to help me, whether it’s that I’ve said I feel low or that I have zero motivation to do anything.

3) Nature always helps me to feel a little better. Whether it’s flowers at home or going to the park. The smell and look of flowers and greenery helps me to feel relaxed. I don’t know what it is about flowers but having them on my table in a vase makes me smile.

4) Unplug from social media. It can be so amazing to just unplug for a while. I’m bombarded with notifications all day and just putting your phone and laptop away and doing something you enjoy is so helpful.

5) So following on from my last point, do something you enjoy. Something that is therapeutic for you. For me it’s a variety of things. I like to colour or paint and it helps me to re-focus and stop worrying and stressing about the hundred things that are running through my head. It just helps me take a step back from everything. But my favourite thing to do is to read. I love reading in the evening to help me to relax. I normally clear the area I’m sitting at so there’s no distractions. Light a candle and dive into my book.

6) The things I’ve mentioned so far have been all things I do at home, but sometimes I end up being stuck in the house for too long when my anxiety acts up and I find it hard to get out of my bed let alone leave the house. So I found that having a place that you find relaxing to go to or doing something that you truly enjoy can motivate me to get myself up and leave the house. For me those things are of course book related. I love attending book events or just going to the library or book store. I’ve even discovered a cute cafe that has a bookshop in it. There’s armchairs and sofas for you to just come and sit and you can read or study and hang out. Also going to hang out with friends is something that usually gets me out of the house too. Or planning a “date night” with my husband. These range from going to the sea life centre to parks to discovering new places in our area.

7) Praying and reading Quran. So for me this goes without saying that my faith has kept me from completely despairing of ever get through my difficult times. Especially when I was at my lowest the only thing that kept my thought of self harm at bay was my faith in God. It’s so hard at that point to think of anything positive and the only thing that kept me going was knowing that this time too will pass and He will help me through it all.

8) The last thing I want to mention is something that completely surprised me. I would never have thought that having a cat would help me with my anxiety and depression. I have never been an animal person so when I finally caved and let my husband adopt the stray that had started living in our garden I was pleasantly surprised at how quickly I fell in love with him. He’s such a cutie and love having him around. It’s just so relaxing to have him chilling with you and cuddles are the best! Plus he’s so entertaining and never fails to lift my mood!

So these are the things I do to help me manage my anxiety. I hope that by sharing my experience it helps others and I would love to hear from you about what you do to help manage in your everyday life.

I also want to mention that reading, learning and understanding anxiety and depression has helped me a lot too. I would definitely recommend picking up a book and learning a bit more about it.

Written in the Stars review

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I recently read Written in the Stars by Aisha Saeed for Ramadan Readathon and it was one of the most emotional books I ever read. This book is about forced marriages that unfortunately can still happen especially within the south Asian community. The family and main character in this book are Pakistani but living in America. This does contain some spoilers.

The story begins where her parents find out that she has secretly been going out with a boy called Saif and decide to take her and her brother to Pakistan to see their family in Pakistan. Naila thinks it’s just a holiday but really it’s so they can get her married.

We follow Naila through her story and how her family force her to get married and the life she is forced to live. Her story ends when she is safely back in America but in reality this may not happen to everyone and some may spend the rest of their lives suffering.

She is drugged and locked in a room, unable to see anyone and then after she is married she lives in a little village with her in laws where she is unable to study or speak to anyone outside and her mother and sister in law try to control and dictate what she can and cannot do.

This story was so heart wrenching, but it’s a much needed story as it helps to raise awareness of the situation that these young girls and boys face. The reason which was repeatedly told to Naila as to why they were doing this to her was that it’s because they know what’s best for her and that she should have thought about the family honour.

Thankfully it is not as common as it was but it still exists, there are still people who believe they have the right to force their children to marry who they choose, by whatever means necessary and that women do not need to receive an education as their purpose in life is to look after the home and children.

Growing up I had heard of girls that are forced to get married but I never knew what they went through, after reading Nailas story it is even more heart wrenching thinking about it.

This story showed how it not only tore apart Nailas life but also affected her whole family and Saif and his family too. It did not bring back Nailas “family honour” instead it permanently damaged Nailas relationship with her parents.

I would definitely recommend everyone to read this book as it has some much needed insight into what it is like for someone who has been forced to get married and raise awareness for this issue.

I do also want to point out that although this does happen it is not the norm for every Pakistani girl. The majority are not forced into marriage and are able to pursue education and build careers. To be independent, I am Pakistani and in my house education is far more important than getting married and I know this is the same for my friends too.

Rating: 4.5/5

Also I just want to clarify that arranged marriages and forced marriages are not the same thing. An arranged marriage is where the bride and groom meet on several occasions and happily consent to the marriage. A forced marriage is where often the bride is given no choice and may even be drugged or threatened with her life to keep her docile to ensure she signs the marriage papers.

Ramadan Reflection

I was told by the doctor that due to my health condition I will not be able to fast the whole of Ramadan as I need to take my medication regularly and should not miss them. I was really upset by this and felt that I would be missing out on this month. So I insisted on fasting the first day, and yes it was a mistake. It took me several days to recover from it.

But over this week what I’ve realised is that I don’t need to miss out on this month even though I’m not fasting. I can still pray and do all the other acts of worship. And that this is a blessing from Allah that he has allowed those that are ill to not fast as it will be too difficult for them and worsen their condition.

That I had sincerely wanted to fast and that the Prophet (saw) has told us that those who sincerely want to do something good but a prevented will still get the reward of doing that good deed.

So I am not missing out at all. But that Allah has made it easier for me to fulfill other acts of worship in which I can still gain rewards from. Something that I definitely wouldn’t be able to do if i was fasting.

That Allah knows what is best for us even if we think we know better.

What Would my Mates Think?

What Would My Mates Think?
Paul, from the UK, had been an Islamophobe. But when life took a turn for the worst, an increase in spirituality ignited his interest in Islam. But how would his friends react if he embraced it?

Be inspired by Paul’s short interview and share it to inspire others.

check out http://www.overcome.tv

Ramadan Readathon

During this Ramadan @muslimreadathon over on Twitter and Instagram has set up a photo challenge to help people become more aware of and read books written by Muslim authors. There is one prompt a week and there will be a giveaway too!

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So I wanted to share a list of authors with you all to help you get started as I’m sure many of us don’t know many books written by Muslim authors. Some have written fiction, some non-fiction and some have written both.

These authors have written fiction books:

1) Na’ima B Robert – she has several books my favourite is She Wore Red Trainers.

2) G. Willow Wilson – also has several fiction books, among them one is called Alif the Unseen

3) Jamilah Kolocotronis – wrote the Echoes series, a 5 book series which is a favourite of mine.

4) Shelina Zafra Janmohammed – Love in a headscarf

5) Tahereh Mafi – Shatter me series, it’s also being made into a tv series and there will be 3 more books coming out

6) Sabaa Tahir – An Ember in the Ashes series, the first two are out at the moment

7) Khalid Hosseini – The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns and And the Mountains Echoed

8) Hend Hegazi – Normal Calm

9) Aisha Saeed – Written in the Stars

10) Ayisha Malik – Sofia Khan is not Obliged

11) Karuna Riazi – The Gauntlet

12) S.K. Ali – Saints and Misfits

These are authors who have written non-fiction books

1) Yasmin Mogahed – Reclaim Your Heart

2) Mohammad Faris – The Productive Muslim

3) Hesham Al-Awadi – Muhammad: How he can make you Extraordinary

4) Saifur Rahman Mubarakpuri – When the Moon Split

5) Mohammad Akram Ghadanfar – Great Women of Islam

6) Mohammad Akram Nadwi – Al-Muhaddithaat: The Women Scholars in Islam

7) Nouman Ali Khan – Revive your Heart

8) Na’ima B Robert – From my sisters lips

Hope you find this helpful. Some of these are among my favourite books! Hope you enjoy reading them.

If you have any questions please message me or find me on Instagram @thetsundokuchronicles

Happy Reading!