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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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.

Would Islam Affect My Cultures?

Would Islam Affect My Cultures?
Isa, originally from Colombia, was impressed by the knowledge of God that young Muslims had. And he liked how Islam encouraged questions, whilst his previous faith discouraged them.

But could he make the changes Islam asked of him? And would Islam be compatible with his British / Colombian culture?

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

When a 16 year old embraces Islam…

When a 16 year old embraces Islam…
At 16, Nisha from the UK finally found the confidence to proclaim herself a Muslim.

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

Check out other videos at: http://www.overcome.tv

Even the disco can be a place of religious inspiration

Even the disco can be a place of religious inspiration…
Describing herself as an “air force brat”, Joann’s religious inspiration came one night while she was at a disco.

Watch on to see how God guided her and helped her overcome…

Oppressive Marriages and the Shaming Culture

There are many women in our community that are stuck in marriages that they want to leave. They might have a husband who is emotionally or psychologically abusive, or he is physically abusive or he’s repeatedly cheated on her or that they’re so incompatible on so many levels that there is no way for them to have a successful marriage.
But they are forced to stay by family and friends because of the stigma attached to leaving their marriage. They are told to have patience and just stay with him. The reasons they are told is because “what will people say” or “stay for the sake of your children.” They are pressured and shamed into staying.
But this isn’t what we see when we look at the seerah of the prophet (saw). He did not tell women to stay because it will affect your child. He didn’t say that you should worry about what the community will think over your own safety and well being.
Women came to him asking for divorce and he never shamed them or pressured them into staying.
We forget that the toxic environment is detrimental to not only the wife but also to the children. They learn that abuse is okay. They learn that that marriage is not peace and tranquility, it’s a prison. And I always wonder why would you raise your children around someone who is not a good role model. They will learn that behaviour.
Now im not saying that we should get divorced at the first sign of small issues but there are legitimate reasons for women to separate themselves from an abusive and oppressive marriage.
We need to change our mindset towards these things. We need to stop shaming the women into staying. It is difficult enough for these women so don’t add humiliation and shame to make things even harder for them.
With this attitude we oppress the oppressed and empower the oppressor.