Content/Trigger Warnings: Islamophobia, racist micro-aggression, cultural appropriation, chronic illness, talk of family death, grief, trauma, phantom pain, mention of rape and sexual violence, discussion of war and war victims.
🌻 The Dates & Breakdown:
July 8th: (Pages 1 – 68) Zayneb Saturday March 9
Oddity: Unpredictable Creatures
July 9th: (Pages 69 – 134) Adam Tuesday March 12
July 10th: (Pages 135 – 207) Adam Sunday March 17
Marvel: Zayneb at the Perfect Place
July 11th: (Pages 208 – 276) Zayneb Tuesday Marc 19
Oddity… And Marvel: Plotters
July 12th: (Pages 277 – End) 🌻
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.
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.
Do you ever walk right into a book, knowing nothing about it, but then you end up falling deeply in love with it? That’s exactly what Love from A to Z will do to you! Friends, I never expected to fall in love with this book! A book that touches a little bit too close to home and still has the gears in my head turning, thinking even days later after finishing it.
In this book, we follow a two person, point of view. We have the point of view told through Zayneb and then we have the point of view told through Adam. However, this book is so much more than just two POVs. It’s also told in the format of Marvel and Oddity entries from their own journals. Something entirely unique and different that I have yet to truly see be done in YA literature…so far! I loved this element so much in this style. It was very easy to read and follow along in the journey between our two main characters. We also receive the element of texts and emails, but they definitely get overshadowed a bit with the journal element.
“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.”
I think the most important thing that needs to be said about this book is how powerful and how emotional this book will be for so many readers. This is a book that has tears, has laughter and joy, but it’s also somewhere in between, something I can’t quite put my finger on. The only word to truly describe this book is masterpiece. It’s a masterful, unsparing exploration of the distorting weight of prejudice, discrimination, racism and Islamophobia, and so much more. I completely surprised that more readers aren’t talking about this book more from how insightful and important this book truly is.
While I can’t relate too much to Zayneb’s side of things, Adam’s story was an entirely different wave. Adam’s tale is bold and illuminating tale of a young man diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. The author handles Adam’s story with such respect and delicacy, gently spooling out his struggles and triumphs in the face of the disease. Reading about Adam slowly unraveling things about his diagnosis just hit me in waves. While I don’t have MS, I do have a loved one who is. Every bit of Adam talking about his mother or even about himself, it was earthquake after earthquake of emotions. I think anyone who has a loved one with MS or does have MS will be touched immensely with Adam’s journey and personal struggles.
And while I’m on the topics that touched me the most… The fact that this book normalizes stuffed plushies and blankets was a breath of fresh air. I have never read a book that has openly said these are okay things to have to bring comfort in dark times and during your personal struggles. This part part hit me like a ton of bricks! S.K. Ali has made waves with having Zayneb’s character normalize those. I can’t even begin to express what that even means, as someone who struggles with mental health. This was perfection.
“Maybe that’s what living is—recognizing the marvels and oddities around you.”
Overall, I think the best way anyone can experience this book is to go in completely blind. I think the more you know about a book, it can spoil things and I thoroughly believe this is one of those books. It’s such an emotional read and it will bring anyone reading to their needs or at least get them thinking about everything that takes place in this book. This is a book that deserves to have more readers talking about, more discussions need to happen about this book, and I definitely think more readers need to pick this book up. It’s brilliant, beautifully written and a very well developed novel. I can’t recommend this enough!