A searing #OwnVoices coming-of-age debut in which an Indian-American Muslim teen confronts Islamophobia and a reality she can neither explain nor escape–perfect for fans of Angie Thomas, Jacqueline Woodson, and Adam Silvera.
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.
*I won this in a Goodreads giveaway ~ thanks so much to the publisher for sending me over a copy, but it doesn’t affect my opinion in any way!!*
Adorable yet deep at the same time??
To be honest, I was expecting to be on an emotional rollercoaster the entire book, and I was not expecting the pure adorable fluff that was the first part of this novel. Trust me, there are some highly important messages that are spread throughout the book, but it still has some wonderfully adorable, swoony moments that my contemporary loving heart was in love with.
Mayaaaaaaaaaa. I so, so enjoyed Maya. I enjoyed her so much as a heroine and main character. She had a fantastic voice that was so authentic and fresh and relatable. She had a clear passion that drove her motivations and future. Back a few years ago, we were constantly talking about how so many main characters lacked any kind of hobby or passion, but Maya had a strong, deep love for her filming, and it was inspiring. She is exactly the kind of role model that is fantastic in the young adult world right now. She made me smile, and I felt so much for her.
The writing was fantastic as well. Ahmed has a strong voice, and it was so much fun in spots. I love how she framed so many of the scenes with the camera shots. And how she would call out the cheesy romantic movies moments? I literally talk about my own life that way when it gets to that point, and I was absolutely LOVING THOSE PARTS SO MUCH. Ahmed handled the light parts so well, but she also changed her voice perfectly for the dark, deep emotional parts as well. She easily switched from the darkness to light to darkness again so well, and I’ll definitely be looking out for her work in the future.
This book definitely tackles some HIGHLY important issues that are happening all over the world – and especially in the United States right now. Ahmed did a wonderful job showcasing the issue at large – from the small microaggressions to the large Islamophobia that exists in our culture. This really is a book for everyone to read. Personally, I am neither Muslim nor Indian, so I cannot speak for the representation. The book is #ownvoices, though, so clearly the representation is based from the author’s own background. Ahmed definitely infused a wonderful amount of Indian culture throughout the story. It was so rich, and it added so much more to the story. The religious aspect wasn’t as large, though, but there was still throughout the book.
Another thing I found absolutely fantastic was the friendships. YA always has a love/hate relationship with friendship, but not only does this book have a fantastic female friendship between Maya and Violet but also a fantastic platonic friendship between Maya and Kareem (who I loved so dearly – I WANT HIM FOR MYSELF).
The only bigger issue that I had with this book was the beginning part. It took about half of the book before we got to what the summary talked about. Before that, it was kind of slow going, just kind of focusing on the cheese, fluff. While I was enjoying it, it kind of just…was a little too fluffy? Like Fluffcity. But thankfully I did enjoy the ship so it was enjoyable and it did allow you to really fall in love with the characters, but I just wanted something more to drive me further.
Overall, this had some fantastic fluffy adorable moments, but it was also full of important, inspiring messages. This book tackles some important messages, and it also showcases the best of adorable contemporary novels. Ahmed has a strong voice and writing style, and she created a likeable main character that was simply fantastic. It had some slow parts, but it still showcases important issues and is just a good contemporary overall. Four crowns and an Ariel rating!
What do you think? Have you read this book? Are you super excited for it? Let’s discuss in the comments below!