book reviews, Uncategorized

Love, Hate, & Other Filters Review

Hate, & Other Filters
by Samira

Rating: 2/5

This wasn’t what I expected it to be but it was
good, though maybe I’m a little biased because I’m also ABCD (American Born
Confused Desi) and thought I would relate and didn’t end up relating as much as
I hoped.


I was really excited to read a book with a Muslim
character as the lead. I’m really happy that more  and more desi authors are writing and
there’s  more diversity in books than
before. Before maybe the last two years the only YA lit that existed with
Muslim female leads were Does My Head
Look Big in This
and Ten Things I
Hate About Me
which I devoured because I was so desperate for even a little
bit of representation.

Now I understand that there are many different
levels of faith and honestly that didn’t bother me except for the fact that for
me throughout reading this book I just felt like Maya didn’t really think about
her religion at all except for when someone was being racist. I understand that
during teenage years everyone has this whole rebellious phase where they
question their faith and their culture but maybe I’ve just grown up because
this girl made me cringe. She never once felt guilty for disobeying her parents
or running off? She never once felt an ounce of regret or inner turmoil for
having a crush on a non-Muslim guy? I mean, please… I’ve had my fair share of
crushes and as a Muslim teenager but Maya’s actions just didn’t seem relatable
to me at all.

The way she talked about her parents and her culture
honesty just made me sad because she was ashamed of it. And sure, I’ve
sometimes felt like an outsider because of my culture and religion, but there
was never any doubt in Maya’s minds that her parents would just ‘never
understand her’ and blah blah blah. Like, I’ve disappointed my parents plenty
of times and there are many points where I feel like they don’t understand me
at all, but at the end of the day I also get thatthey are my parents and
they’re just worried and justtrying to make sure I succeed. Here though, the
parents are painted as absolutely stereotypical desis that only care about
getting her married and wanting a doctor or engineer daughter. PLEASE.

The first half of the book was just a somewhat
cutesy romance/love triangle thing and then the second half played around with
the terrorism idea and honestly throughout the book I just kept waiting for an
actual plot? If the synopsis hadn’t really mentioned that she was Muslim I
would not have even known it from the way she acted. There was never really any
mention of any practice of religion (except for pork, because apparently that’s
the only stereotype ever about Muslims where nobody actually understand why). I understand there are many levels
of faith but the only time being Muslim ever mattered was when there was a
terrorist attack? It didn’t seem like part of the character’s identity and
really only served to further the plot. It just didn’t feel as meaningful and
could’ve been told better.

I know I’m being harsh but it just felt like a real
misrepresentation. There didn’t actually seem to be a struggle with identity
more than a struggle with wanting to be understood by parents. The romance was
fine I guess, but I didn’t particularly ship the characters and honestly just
found Maya a little too whiny. The only true character I enjoyed was Hina, the
only well-rounded character in the entire story. She had a proper identity and though
there was no mention of faith or religion, it didn’tmatter because she was her
and she did what she wanted and didn’t care about the whole “log kya kahenge” deal (“What will
people think?”).

I saw a lot of
reviews talking about how the real Islamically controversial topics (like pork,
wine, bikinis) were brushed over and could have really been discussed properly.
I totally agree with this. I consider myself a faithful Muslim (of course, by
no means perfect, we all have issues we gotta work on) so all of these things
did bug me. I mean, a bikini? I would never dare. Not even because religion but
I am not comfortable showing myself, no thank you. The whole wine thing? Maya
was shocked but then they joked about ‘relax, it’s not pork.’ And the whole
deal was settled? Like…. There’s a little more struggle than that? They’re both
religiously not allowed so why is one worse than the other? Also the
whole’setting up for marriage thing’ OH MY GOD THERE IS NO WAY MUSLIM FAMILIES
had a lot of strong feelings about certain scenes that really could have been
played out better and honestly discussed in regards to levels of faith and the
internal struggle about following or questioning rules, you know?

[Side note, check
out this review I found and really agreed with on GR:

The one strength
in this novel was the scenes at the end of every chapter in italics. Those
parts were powerful and interesting and new. I didn’t understand the
significance of them until about halfway through the novel and once it really
clicked, I appreciated those.

Overall, I think
it was a story that tried to hard to relate to Americans rather than
Muslim-Desi-Americans. As someone who was born in the States and has struggled
with racism, faith, and identity, this failed to really capture the extent of
what it could have been. I still think that people should read the book,
because the racism aspect was captured pretty well (the only true quote that
really hit home was when Maya prayed that the terrorist attack wasn’t done by a
Muslim.) but apart from that, I didn’t relate to her struggles with her parents
(the scenarios with her parents were just way too extreme and almost felt
stereotypical rather than based on an actual experience one might go through)
or her identity.

If I were to
recommend this book I would actually tell them that Saints and Misfits was a much better representation and more
relatable and even the two novels I mentioned above. Now if I were to recommend
this book it wouldn’t be because of Muslim representation, it would be more of
a cultural representation (even if Maya seemed ashamed of smelling like samosas
or whatever).

2 thoughts on “Love, Hate, & Other Filters Review”

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