My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Received: Simon & Schuster Canada
Published: April 30th, 2019
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Recommended Age: 12+
Genres & Themes: Young Adult, Romance, Islamophobia, Coming of Age, Family
This was wonderful. I have not read this author’s debut novel – Saints and Misfits – but I immediately added it after closing this book. I’m really happy this didn’t turn out to be a beautiful book on the outside and shallow on the inside.
Actually, while it seems to be mainly a breezy YA summer romance from the cover, I was delighted to discover multiple important themes in the foreground and sometimes lurking beneath the surface, too. Zayneb in particular is very expressive about what she believes is fair and what she deems unjust. Adam, on the other hand, is less vocal in sharing his emotions and beliefs, but he couldn’t be a better older brother to his sister and there is little chance of you disliking him.
If this had solely been a love story, I would have found it adorable and recommended it to those looking for a light contemporary read. But it’s more than fate in action. More than two souls finding each other. It’s a coming-of-age tale as well. Zayneb must learn to fight injustice the right way and Adam must learn to open up to others about his struggles. They may seem like opposites but 1) opposites attract and 2) they both have so much to learn from one another.
S.K. Ali’s writing style is absolutely enchanting. There is a fairytale-esque feeling to this story that makes it stand out from other YA smart romances out there. I also believe the author wanted to open the reader’s eyes on different misconceptions about Islam and the harm Islamophobia can do in the world and in a person’s heart. In my opinion, she succeeded. Exhibit A: The next time I see a hijab, I will be looking at it with more respect, undoubtedly.
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