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Love from a to Z
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From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss, following two Muslim teens who meet during a...
From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss, following two Muslim teens who meet during a...
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  • From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss, following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.
    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.

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 novel is a beautiful and nuanced story about a young woman exploring her identity through friendship, family, and faith.

Reviews-

  • Kirkus

    April 1, 2019
    Zayneb is an 18-year-old hijabi from Indiana--and she was just suspended for standing up to her Islamophobic teacher. Now she's on her way to Doha to spend two weeks with her cool aunt Nandy and forget about her troubles at school. On the flight, Zayneb meets Adam, who converted to Islam at age 11 after his mom--Auntie Nandy's best friend--died from multiple sclerosis. Enamored with each other, Adam and Zayneb begin to share their life stories: Adam is keeping a huge secret from his father and sister, Zayneb hasn't shared with her aunt why she's been suspended, and both are mourning loved ones. Slowly, they fall in love, but their different experiences of dealing with racism and pain threaten to drive them apart. The novel's dual narrative structure uses raw, earnest journal entries to guide readers through the painful realities of the Islamophobia and racism that permeate all levels of society. Zayneb's story shows how the smallest incidents have trickle-down effects that dehumanize Muslims and devalue Muslim lives in some people's eyes. This is a refreshing depiction of religiosity and spirituality coexisting with so-called "normal" young adult relationships and experiences: What makes Zayneb and Adam different is not their faith but their ability to learn from and love one another in a world hurling obstacles their way. Zayneb is half Pakistani and half West Indian; Adam is Canadian of Chinese and Finnish descent. Heartfelt and powerful. (Fiction. 13-18)

    COPYRIGHT(2019) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

  • School Library Journal

    May 1, 2019

    Gr 8 Up-Morris Award finalist Ali has written a classic romance that's also a story of love for family and friends, Muslim identity, oneself, and the city of Doha, Qatar. Zayneb Malik is a high school senior, hijabi, and Gryffindor/Slytherin mix. When she gets suspended over an incident with an Islamophobic teacher, she starts her spring break early, leaving her town in Indiana to visit her aunt in Doha. Also on the way to Doha, via London, is Adam Chen, returning to his dad and sister. He stopped attending his college classes two months earlier after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the same illness his mother had. Instead, he's been making various things. As Adam and Zayneb spend time together, their feelings intensify. But with numerous obstacles in their lives, they'll have to decide if pursuing a relationship is a possibility. The story is told in alternating viewpoints through the characters' journal entries, each divided into sections of Marvels and Oddities (the good and the bad). Muslim identity and culture are authentically and unapologetically infused throughout without overexplanation but are still accessible for a wide audience. Cultural appropriation, racism, the effects of war, and the impact of everyday Islamophobia are all explored with nuance. An author's note lends further context. VERDICT Heartfelt, honest, and featuring characters readers will fall in love with, this is sure to become a beloved book for many.-Jenna Friebel, Oak Park Public Library, IL

    Copyright 2019 School Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

  • Publisher's Weekly

    May 27, 2019
    This charming romance features two devout Muslim teens with a shared passion for a 13th-century Islamic text and a shared conundrum: “How do you meet that one exact person who’s right for you?” On a plane to Doha, Qatar, outspoken Indiana high-school senior Zayneb feels an instant, mutual connection with Adam, an artist who has just dropped out of university in London after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the same illness that caused his mother’s death. When Zayneb’s aunt turns out to be Adam’s former teacher, the teens find themselves thrown together socially. Alternating journal entries relay their different methods for dealing with challenges. Prone to anger and action, Zayneb plans to expose the teacher who accused her of being a militant Islamophobia propagandist and got her suspended from school. Quiet and patient, Adam waits until after the anniversary of his mother’s death before revealing his diagnosis to his grieving father. Ali (Saints and Misfits) deftly addresses challenging subjects such as chronic illness and cultural appropriation; her sensitive portrayal of the teens’ determination to honor their faith’s courtship guidelines as their attraction grows makes this love story stand out. Ages 14–up.

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    Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
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