Love from A to Z

352p. S. & S./Salaam Reads. May 2019. Tr $18.99. ISBN 9781534442726.
RedReviewStarGr 8 Up—Morris Award finalist Ali has written a classic romance that's also a story of love for family and friends, Muslim identity, oneself, and the city of Doha, Qatar. Zayneb Malik is a high school senior, hijabi, and Gryffindor/Slytherin mix. When she gets suspended over an incident with an Islamophobic teacher, she starts her spring break early, leaving her town in Indiana to visit her aunt in Doha. Also on the way to Doha, via London, is Adam Chen, returning to his dad and sister. He stopped attending his college classes two months earlier after he was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the same illness his mother had. Instead, he's been making various things. As Adam and Zayneb spend time together, their feelings intensify. But with numerous obstacles in their lives, they'll have to decide if pursuing a relationship is a possibility. The story is told in alternating viewpoints through the characters' journal entries, each divided into sections of Marvels and Oddities (the good and the bad). Muslim identity and culture are authentically and unapologetically infused throughout without overexplanation but are still accessible for a wide audience. Cultural appropriation, racism, the effects of war, and the impact of everyday Islamophobia are all explored with nuance. An author's note lends further context.
VERDICT Heartfelt, honest, and featuring characters readers will fall in love with, this is sure to become a beloved book for many.

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