Love, Hate and Other Filters
By Samira Ahmed
Published by Soho Press, Incorporated
Age Range: 14+

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“A great examination of how hatred and fear affects both communities, and individual lives.”  —School Library Journal

American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds. There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.” And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.

There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control. In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Reviews & Accolades
“In an astute debut, Ahmed intertwines a multicultural teen’s story with a spare, dark depiction of a young terrorist’s act. High school senior Maya Aziz, a budding filmmaker, struggles with being the beloved and protected only child of Muslim immigrants from India while trying to live a “normal” American teenage life in Illinois and, more importantly, make her own decisions about her future. Stealthily defying her parents by applying to New York University and juggling appropriate and inappropriate love interests (all with the help of her maverick aunt), Maya finally gets up the courage to confront her parents when the terrorist’s actions unleash hatred on her and her family. Ahmed builds tension by preceding each chapter of Maya’s story with a terse paragraph leading to the imminent act of terror, then provides a startling twist; Maya’s final and uncharacteristic act of rebellion also comes as a surprise. The characters are fully dimensional and credible, lending depth to even lighter moments and interactions. Alternately entertaining and thoughtful, the novel is eminently readable, intelligent, and timely.”
Publishers Weekly  (Starred Review)

“Maya Aziz, nearly eighteen years old, is the daughter of traditional Indian Muslim parents. American-born Maya chafes under her parents’ expectations for her life—college (pre-med or pre-law)—then marriage to a suitable Indian boy in their small, suburban Chicago town. Maya dreams of life as a filmmaker after film school at NYU and marriage to a boy of her choosing. After the police identify the perpetrator of a terror attack in another Illinois city as a young Muslim with the same last name as Maya, her family’s life becomes difficult and her parents’ fears further suffocate Maya and threaten to shut down any hope of living her dream. The title refers to Maya’s habit of seeing life through her camera; even when she is not filming, she envisions how things would look as a movie. The book is wonderfully constructed—the story of the terrorist is told one page at a time between each chapter, slowly building the tension. Maya’s voice is authentic, providing readers with insight into her life as an American Muslim teenager caught between her “Americanism” and her parents’ traditional Muslim culture. This wonderful debut novel is timely with its examination of bias and bigotry. Romance lightens the mood as a lovely relationship grows between Maya and football star Phil. Teen readers will find much to digest here and will be totally engrossed from page one. This is an important addition to libraries serving young adults.”  —VOYA

“Maya Aziz should be on top of the world. She got accepted into film school at NYU, and the cute boy she has been spending time with seems to be into her. The only problem is, she’s been hiding all of this from her loving but very traditional Indian American parents. They have already chosen a local college for her to attend and introduced her to a nice Muslim boy who is (eventual) marriage material. As she builds up courage to tell them the truth, a terrorist attack takes place nearby, and one of the suspects shares the same last name as Maya’s family. They are suddenly the targets of suspicion, fear, and intimidation in their own community. Maya is singled out by an unhinged student at her school, and when his harassment escalates to violence, not only is she physically hurt, but all of the ground she gained with her parents is lost as their protective instincts go into overdrive. Maya’s voice is pitch-perfect; funny, warm, and perfectly teenaged in its bouncing focus—she is afraid for herself and her family, crushed by the hatred she is facing in her community, scared of disappointing her parents—but she also really wants to go to film school and is really falling in love. Sweet and smart with a realistic but hopeful ending, this novel is a great examination of how hatred and fear affects both communities, and individual lives. Recommended for all libraries serving teens.”
School Library Journal  (Starred Review)

“High school senior Maya Aziz works up the courage to tell her parents that she’s gotten into the film school of her dreams in New York City, but their expectations combined with anti-Muslim backlash from a terror attack threaten to derail her dream.  Maya, the only brown girl in her school with the only immigrant parents, loves parts of her Indian culture but blames everything she thinks she can’t have on her cultural constraints and on the fact that she’s different. Time is running out to break the news to her parents that her filmmaking is more than just a hobby. Meanwhile, two potential love interests command her attention. Her matchmaking parents like Kareem, an intriguing young Indian man Maya meets and dates, while Phil, a white classmate who’s been her longtime crush, remains a secret from her parents. Interspersed with Maya’s intimate first-person account are brief, cinematic interludes tracking a disturbed young man who commits a terror attack. First reports blame someone who shares Maya’s last name, and the backlash they suffer leads her parents to restrict Maya’s options. Maya’s feelings of entrapment within her parents’ dreams are laid on thick, and Maya herself notes a clichéd moment or two in her story, but the core relationships are authentic and memorable, and the conclusion is satisfying.  A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a secular Muslim teen in today’s climate.”  —Kirkus Reviews

Groups Represented
Indian American

Bi-racial Identity
Building Futures
Cross-Group Friendship
Cultural Differences
Cultural Identity
Cultural Traditions
Family Relationships
Racial Discrimination
The Arts

United States (Chicago Suburb)

Engagement Projects & Resources
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