This is a review I read of “Love, Hate and Other Filters” on Goodreads, and I wanted to share this with anyone who may not have read it before. It is from Fuzaila’s review and I did not write any of it, all credit goes to her.
“UPDATE 18/2/18 – I see many of you chanced upon this book looking for a good Muslim rep. I did too. But this book was far from it. I have added some recommendations at the end of the review for those who are looking for good Muslim reps. BELIEVE ME, this is not the book you’re looking for.
Hear that faint shriek in the distance? Yeah, that’s probably me screaming over this book.
H O R R I B B L E
When I saw this book on my feed –
– The MC is an Indian Teen. Indian. Teen. In. America. I NEED I NEED I NEED IT
– Muslim Rep. OMG. (Yeah, there’s seriously too less of them. WE NEED DIVERSE YA)
See, I am an Indian Muslim Teen. I might not have seen America, but still, I knew I had to get this book and read it asap. Plus the reviews were all 5-starred! BONUS!
Only, when you’re expecting to see yourself represented in a book, the book has a way of unduly disappointing you. I am so so frustrated by the rep in this book.
If you don’t know the plot yet, Maya Aziz is a 17 year old living in Illinois with her immigrant, conservative parents. She loves making movies and intends to make a career out of it. She has a crush on a long-time classmate Phil. Her parents try to set her up with Kareem, a boy they deem suitable. Maya’s dreams of going to NYU for studies are crushed by the aftermath of a terrorist attack she has no role in.
Seems stuffy, doesn’t it?
Well, be disappointed because –
¤• THE ONLY FOCUS HERE IS ROMANCE. You’d think that with a Muslim MC, romance might be the last thing to expect. But no, Maya has a crush on Phil, a Christian boy. They go on dates, swimming lessons IN A BIKINI, kiss, hold hands and spend a night together. This is a forbidden relationship in Islam, and the only thing Maya is worried about is her parents grounding her?! She couldn’t even acknowledge the fact that what she is doing is wrong in her morals?
– And btw, in the end, she’s romancing another guy, a Hindu nonetheless. After all the fussing and falling over Phil, she moves on to another guy. Way to go, binch!
– The supposedly cute romance was way too fluffy. Like made-to-feel-this-way fluff. Like, they-are-too-cute-together-omigod fluff.
– I couldn’t think of anything those two had in common. Except, maybe a crush on each other.
– I know, I shouldn’t be disappointed to see a Muslim girl romancing a Christian boy. Everyone has a right to date whoever they want.
– But she never acknowledges her religion, doesn’t give it a second thought. It’s like she was saving face, trying to play cool by not saying out loud that NO, MUSLIMS ARE NOT ALLOWED TO DATE. BUT I WANT TO SO I DO. Someone’s ashamed of her beliefs.
¤• MAYA IS A TERRIBLE EXCUSE FOR A MUSLIM MC. Does she pray ever? NO. Does she even say ‘I’m a Muslim’? NO. Does she ever say or do anything on her own that remotely signifies a Muslim? NO.
I have no idea, why this book was branded as Muslim rep. Maya Aziz, is a Muslim only by her last name. I wonder if that’s the reason why everybody thinks this book is diverse. Maya’s religion is used as a plot device, to be the butt of terrorist jokes and nothing else.
– So there’s one time, when Kareem drinks wine in front of Maya and she seems shocked.
– What do they do, then? Laugh over it as if it’s a joke. Say “it’s not like I’m eating pork”!!
– Who ever said, drinking wine is allowed and pork is not??BOTH ARE FORBIDDEN FOR MUSLIMS AND ONE IS NOT WORSE THAN THE OTHER. And if you don’t act over it, you at least state the fact Maya, not joke over it because it doesn’t matter to you.
– Yeah, not all Muslim girls are hijabis, pray 5 times a day and not drink wine. But doesn’t being a Muslim rep come with its responsibilities? Like say, explain her Islamic ways?
– If Maya never had a Muslim last name, or if it was not specifically mentioned in the blurb, I wouldn’t have thought Maya was Muslim, or pick up the book in the first place.
– It is just clever marketing strategy. SAY YOUR MC IS MUSLIM, THAT YOU REPRESENT DIVERSE CULTURE, AND YOUR BOOK SELLS. HOW CONVENIENT FOR YOU SAMIRA AHMED.
¤• THE ACT OF TERRORISM SEEMED JUSTIFIED. See, at the end of each chapter, there’s a small narrative in third person, about the terrorist guy Ethan. It is basically about how his Dad was abusive, how he was deeply affected by an unhappy childhood, just how shitty his life is. I could not see a reason why that had to be included? It was totally unnecessary. At first I was lost on these narratives. Then I realized that Samira Ahmed is trying to give us the terrorists’ view of why he did what he did. It was like she was covering up for his acts.
– I mean, I get he was mentally unstable and all that, but his morbid past is no excuse for his morbid sins.
– It was as if the author wanted to say ‘This poor guy had an abusive childhood, Let’s all sympathize him’
– What frustrates me though, is that, if a muslim guy attacks, then it would have been like ”That guy has a beard, he’s muslim. He must be a terrorist!” How convenient is having a beard and a muslim name, to say he is a terrorist.??
– It’s like she was saying this guy who is a terrorist and not muslim, has his own reasons. wth?
– BUT I’M GLAD SAMIRA AHMED TRIED TO SHOW THAT TERRORISM HAS NO RELIGION. I’m just not convinced it was what she actually meant.
– Also, the subplot started at like 50% into the story, and was over in a few pages. After that back to the romance.
– Why did she even bother? Seems to me it was just to spice up the story.
¤• THE INDIAN REP.
Basically, all you’ll get to know about India from this book is that Indian parents are oppressive and we eat samosas all the time.
Which is utterly FALSE. Indians are diverse, we eat a variety of food, and not all Indian parents try to contain their kids. And why I was disappointed with the rep was because Maya seemed to hate her culture, her background, her house that smelled of onions. I can see why someone who was born and bought up in America might not be fond of Indian culture which is far off to her. But that doesn’t mean you can’t embrace your difference. That doesn’t make you any more American than it makes you any less Indian.
– It was very relatable though.
– Parents bugging you to settle down.
– Those tasty yummy home food.
– The colorful Indian wedding.
– Sorry, but it all gets drowned in the fluff of the romance.
¤• DESI COMPULSIVE PARENTS.
I was so glad to see this bought up in this book. Someone finally acknowledges how hard it is to live with conservative parents, who dreams your share of dreams too.
Maya wants to go to Film School in New York City, and her parents allow only after a lot of prodding. But after the terrorist attack, they prohibit her from going, and DISOWN her for deciding to go on her own. Yeah, that stuff still happens, yeah that sucks. But usually they do come around in the end.
– I hope it wasn’t written to feel like it was just Indian parents.
– Because seriously, that happens all around the world.
¤• MAYA IS JUST SO RUDE . She has no love for her parents; she was just rude to them. Yeah, I know, her parents weren’t all that supportive, but they loved her.
My parents are conservative and oppressive, but still I don’t raise my voice at them. Not just because of respect, because they’re my PARENTS.
– And Maya doesn’t give a heck about anything. As soon as she is out of her parents’ sight, she goes on a kissing spree.
– She says she wants to be independent.
– But why does being independent have to mean dating and kissing as many boys as I can?
– Like, why can’t it just be – I am on my own, I am free to do what I please, and I don’t care what anyone thinks?
– NO. For Maya, independence means she can go to prom and makeout.
– That’s the same girl who couldn’t even find her voice when Brian cornered her in a food court.
– She was such a scaredy-cat then. Where was all that bravado with her parents?
– I mean, it was a food court for god’s sake. Couldn’t she like, scream?
– Another thing, she talks about so many movies and some books I don’t have any idea about, and well, spoils them all. No I don’t like spoilers even if I probably am not going to watch those movies or read those books. Thanks.
On a forward note, please don’t pick this book expecting a realistic, accurate Muslim Rep. Go for the fluff, the romance. I know this is an #OwnVoices book, and Samira Ahmed shares her story, but when you put a label on yourself, at least try to do it some justice. That’s all I’ve got to say.”