Sunday, 27 September 2020

Review of ‘Love from A to Z’

 

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.

 

First of all, the cover photo of the novel caught my eyes at first sight. Even when I was busy with other books, my mind was still clogged with the book with the ‘blue cover.’ At the beginning of the breathtaking novel, S.K Ali warns us that ‘Love from A to Z’ will be a love story. Her warning made the storyline not to catch us by surprise. The novel will make your heart skip, send flicker of amusement and excitement to your face, and make your eyes misty.


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About two months ago, I revealed my top 7 books on social media. Completing this thrilling novel, I wished that I had read it earlier on. It would have made it to the list.

‘Love from A to Z’ is a story about two teenagers, Adam Chen and Zayneb Malik, who tries to come to terms with the marvels and oddities they experience every day. This captivating love story shows how Muslim teen characters strive to overcome racism, Islamophobia, and a host of others.

The main characters- Zayneb and Adam- who were travelling to Doha, Qatar, meet at the airport and experience something life-changing afterwards.

Zayneb Malik is a teen who is outspoken and courageous. Always ready to stand up for her right, her outspokenness often gets her in trouble. Adam Chen is, however, a quiet and calm-natured person, striving to reflect on the positive aspects of his life.

The novel is written in the form of a diary, where Zayneb and Adam simultaneously reveal the marvels and oddities in their lives.

Zayneb gets suspended from school after confronting her Islamophobic teacher, Fencer. She decides to let go of things that she hasn’t been able to. Adam has recently been diagnosed of multiple sclerosis, and he’s hiding it from his father. His diagnosis also causes him to drop out of school. He is scared of his future, and because of this, he isolates himself from the people around him.

The book centres on the journal entries of Zayneb and Adam as they explore the marvels and oddities and ways their lives seem entangled.


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An intriguing quality about the book is love and hope. Love for the bond Adam shares with his sister, Hanna. His love for his father and valuable moments he shared with his late mother. Hope for Zayneb striving to defend herself against racism she experiences at several places and Adam for dealing with MS.

Zayneb realizes that she does not have feel to discouraged to continue fighting against racism, Islamophobia. Adam learns that been diagnosed with MS doesn’t mean that everything is over for him.

‘Love from A to Z’ is a book that got me gripped from the first page. As I read the first paragraph, I knew that I had chosen the right book to read. The artistic description of the first scene got me captivated:


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ON THE MORNING OF SATURDAY, March 14, fourteen-year-old Adam Chen went to the Museum of Islamic Art in Doha. A thirteenth-century drawing of a tree caught his gaze. It wasn’t particularly striking or artistic. He didn’t know why this tree caused him to stride forward as if magnetized. (When he thinks about it now, his guess is thus: Trees were kind of missing in the landscape he found himself in at the time, and so he was hungry for them.) Once he got close, he was rewarded with the name of the manuscript that housed this simple tree sketch: The Marvels of Creation and the Oddities of Existence. He stood there thinking about this grand title for a long moment. Then something clicked in his mind: Maybe that’s what living is—recognizing the marvels and oddities around you. From that day, he vowed to record the marvels he knew to be true and the oddities he wished weren’t. Adam, being Adam, found himself marveling more than ruminating on the weird bits of existing.


This is actually the first Muslim fiction I’d be reading- I loved how the characters were willing to defend their religion. I enjoyed their halal love story. I also enjoyed the description of Qatar’s capital, Doha.  


I have a special love for Adam’s character. I enjoyed reading his thoughts and lessons from life. I was fascinated by a particular part of his diary entry:


Everyone told Dad that he was “lucky” that I was so “good.” How he’d done a “good” job, given the circumstances. Of Mom passing away. And being in another country. And converting to a new religion as a family.


What they’d meant was that I was easy to handle, didn’t talk back or push limits. But maybe it wasn’t that I was just good or that Dad had done a good job. Maybe it had been this journal. This way of noticing that even during the suckiest moments in life there was something marvelous to be seen, heard, touched. Or just a tiny awe felt in the heart. Maybe it was going out of my way to try to notice something, this noticing, that had saved me all along.

 

Notable Quotes from ‘Love from A to Z’

“Maybe that’s what living is- recognizing the marvels and oddities around you.”

“Make sure that you make the beginning of whatever you begin beautiful.”

“I’m not a violent person. I’m not advocating violence. But I am an angry person. I’m advocating for more people to get angry. Get moved.”

“Human rights. For everyone. Because that was the only way the world made sense. When the arc of care went far and wide, it journeyed and battled to exclude none.”

“Your resistance to my existence is futile.”

“This is a love story. You’ve been warned.”

“I was in this weird space of wanting not to be alone and wanting not to be crowded, either.”

“They say friends are the family you choose.”

“But it’s not smooth sailing”

“Life isn’t.”

“Girls like me who see and feel the pains and problems of the world don’t make sense to people. So maybe we’re meant to be alone, or only with people exactly like us.”

“She believed in such a world, where everyone got a turn, a season in the sun.”

“I’m someone who gets consumed by stuff. It engulfs me, wraps me up in its embrace, and doesn’t let me be until I’ve dealt with it.”

“Here’s one thing I CAN figure out and that’s how much I don’t know. How I don’t know what you went through at school. With your teacher. I don’t know about the extent of the Islamophobia you’ve faced. I don’t know what it feels like to be you. But here’s another thing: I DO want to know.”

“Exhibit A TO Z: The root of everything that has gone wrong in my life. Like falling for people without thinking things through.”

“We’re allowed to cry.”

“never ever quake in the face of hate.”

“Imagine if I transformed this room into a place where someone would want to escape to?”

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“Since the news was out about my MS, out with my Dad, my friends, and soon with Hanna, it emerged in the real world.

Like a boggart from Harry Potter’s world, it took shape in front of me. Un moving, but relentlessly forcing itself into my thoughts. My MS, it was real now.

I didn’t want to climb the ladder to finish painting the room. I was scared to.

I wasn’t part of any Hogwarts houses, because there wasn’t a house for people who’d rather ruck away, overwhelmed with fear.”


A major part of the book is poetic with deep words for reflection. Adam also made me fall in love with the colour ‘blue.’ Centering on family, love, loss, uncertainties, and friendship, ‘Love from A to Z’ is a must-read.

 



 

 

 

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