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Love From A to Z #1

Love from A to Z

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From William C. Morris Award Finalist S.K. Ali comes an unforgettable romance that is part The Sun Is Also a Star mixed with Anna and the French Kiss , following two Muslim teens who meet during a spring break trip.

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.

342 pages, Hardcover

First published April 30, 2019

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About the author

About-the-author, bare bones: S. K. Ali writes the Muslim characters she never saw growing up — Muslim characters living life in color, in all sorts of stories. Insha'Allah.

The official, accoladey version: S. K. Ali is the NYT bestselling and award-winning author of several books. Her debut novel, Saints and Misfits was the winner of the 2018 APALA Honor award, the 2017 Middle East Book Honor Award, and a 2018 William C. Morris Award finalist. Her widely acclaimed second novel, LOVE FROM A TO Z, a story about finding love in the time of Islamophobia, was an Entertainment Weekly Top Ten Young Adult Book of 2019 and a Goodreads Choice Awards finalist . It was also the first teen novel chosen for NBC Today Show's Read with Jenna Book Club. The sequel to Saints and Misfits, Misfit in Love, was a People magazine best book of summer 2021. Her newest YA novel, LOVE FROM MECCA TO MEDINA releases Oct. 18, 2022. She also has a picture book co-authored with Team USA Olympic Medalist, Ibtihaj Muhammad, THE PROUDEST BLUE, which debuted on the New York Times bestseller list. Her Middle Grade novels include the critically acclaimed anthology ONCE UPON AN EID co-edited with Aisha Saeed, and the soon-to-be-released GROUNDED (Spring, 2023). She lives in Toronto with her family, which includes a very vocal cat named Yeti and his new pal, Mochi. Find her on twitter at https://twitter.com/SajidahWrites, on instagram at https://www.instagram.com/skalibooks/ , on TikTok at https://www.tiktok.com/@skalibooks , and on her website at https://skalibooks.com/.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 3,779 reviews
Profile Image for chai ♡.
321 reviews150k followers
August 5, 2022
Love from A to Z is one of the most unapologetically Muslim books that I’ve ever read, and I’m so glad it exists. It resonated in chambers of my heart I’d never known existed. There is still an expansiveness in my chest that reminds me of how important voices like these are, for readers like us. This feeling is a language all its own: to reach and find, to be reached for and found, to belong to a mutual certainty.

S.K Ali’s newest offering to the YA literary landscape arrives through the voice of Zayneb, an eighteen-year-old Hijabi, who got suspended for confronting her teacher with his islamophobia. Zayneb’s parents send her to Doha to spend two weeks with her aunt, and they do it in the spirit of hope: that Zayneb could rest there, and push the sour remains of her anger and frustration to the back of her mind. On her flight to Doha, Zayneb meets Adam, and though she might not be the kind to bandy about words like fate and destiny, Zayneb could not deny that it is something of that kind that drew Adam to her path, and together, they seem to be on a glorious glissade on a straight track for each other.

Love from A to Z is a quietly powerful story. It has something like tears and something like laughter and something that isn’t either, something as deep and relentless and annihilating as oceans. It’s a masterful, unsparing exploration of the distorting weight of prejudice, discrimination, racism and islamophobia, and a remarkably lifelike portrait of what it’s like to be Muslim today.

Reading this book, a few things came home to me—things I had always known but that had to been buried under the days of my life. It was as if a clawed hand had sunk its talons into my mind, cutting through memories, letting emotion bleed. One memory, in particular, suddenly afflicted me afresh as poignantly as if it happened minutes before.

I think I must warn you—this is going to get very personal.

I used to put on a hijab for most of middle school and high school before I took it off when I was around 17—a year before I immigrated to Europe for college, and about two years after I was selected, the only freshman, to attend a European festival for high school students in France.

We had a conference call with the organizers of the festival, and they had made it clear that I would be expected to take off my hijab once there. “We just don’t want anyone to feel uncomfortable”, followed by a few scattered awkward laughs and twelve expectant pair of eyes zeroed in on me. I nodded, and the conversation quickly moved on. At the time, an uneasiness stirred inside of me, a flutter of unhappiness. “This is not right”, a voice in the back of my head whispered, but I was too young—perhaps even too craven—to put up much of a fight, to ask what was so threatening about a piece of cloth wrapped around my head, or to even fathom how incredibly, flagrantly, unbelievably islamophobic that was. I remember looking around, expecting one of the adults in the room—one of the seniors, my teacher, the principal—to say something. No one did. It had taken me years to understand, and still longer to unravel my feelings about it when I did. It’s the kind of memory you smash down whenever it tries to well up—lest you dissolve into the weight of it. My mind had conjured a thousand different scenarios in the years since. In some of those scenarios, I artfully arch an eyebrow and calmly ask, “why does my hijab make you feel uncomfortable?” In others, I burst out of my chair and shout my objection. I tell them where they can shove their fucking festival and storm out of the room. I am braver, taller, and righteous in my anger. The “fucking festival” turned out to be a lot of fun—but my recollection of it will always taste like ashes.

This memory remained a thorn in my side, buried too deep to dig out. My decision to take off my hijab, I had come to realize years later, is in a large part because of what happened that day. When I took off my hijab at 17, I didn’t look closely at why I did it. The whole thing was a non-event: I remember walking into the kitchen and casually announcing my decision to my mom. I remember her laughing and teasing me about it (“well, I didn’t tell you to put it on in the first place, now did I!”). My mom is a hijabi; she told me an anecdote about how she started wearing a hijab at the age of 25, a few months after marrying my dad, and how some people thought my dad might have had something to do with it. My mom grinned at me and said, “your dad had nothing to do with it. I just wanted to—so I did it.”

For a long time, I thought my decision to take off my hijab was just that—I wanted to, so I did it. But the truth, I think, is that I didn’t want to be made to feel the way I felt in that room ever again: confused and hurt and lonely and so hideously helpless. Laughing along when I was the butt of the joke because I didn’t know what else to do. Even as young as I was, I knew—acutely and with grief—that life had enough hard edges without someone seeing the scarf around my head and deciding I was less than they were. I was a queer brown Muslim immigrant—I didn’t want to give the world more reasons to disdain me.

I'm telling you this because the condescension and reckless hatred that Zayneb is continuously made to endure struck me, but it didn’t surprise me. Like a reaction you’re used to but that hasn’t lost any of its sting. I don’t think I could have fathomed such cruelty were my mind not full of the sight of my own past experiences, had the recent terrorist attacks in New Zealand not woken an old emotion, one I had never had much use for: fear . The kind that clams down on you like a vise and seeps into the marrow of your bone and becomes as much a part of you as your molecules.

Reading Zayneb's story, recognition blazed inside me, sharp as a shock. Because I know. I get it. I know what it’s like to have a churn of fears sitting deep in your gut, grinding together to gnaw at you from within. Inside Zayneb, something was coiled, growing tighter and tighter with every cruel remark, every micro-aggression, every new injustice. It’s the whimper that never quite turns into a scream. It’s crying out, but your screams are silent even to yourself. What does it do to a person to know, without a shadow of doubt, that they are disdained for simply being? That their humanity will always be put into question simply for who they are? There are millions of Muslims whose experiences can be so easily placed alongside Zayneb’s, alongside my own. It isn’t fair, and it smites my heart.

I didn't have to open my mouth or do anything for people to judge me. I just had to be born into a Muslim family and grow up to want to become a visible member of my community by wrapping a cloth on my head.
I just had to be me.


Love from A to Z is also a 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. I really liked Adam’s character. I’m a sucker for soft boys, and that’s exactly what Adam is. He’s a study in kindness and tenderness and his hand is the open kind that anyone can read upside down.

Although this novel confronts, with boldness, weightier subjects—islamophobia, the unhuman treatment of migrant workers in the Middle East, drone strikes in Pakistan—it’s at its heart a love story. I love Adam and Zayneb’s relationship. How they were slowly probing the delicate hyperspace they sketched between them, in the manner in which you’d explore a fragile trust. Adam, although he’s also Muslim, cannot really perceive how different his experience is from Hijabi women who have to weather so much more on a daily basis. But Adam eventually learns to listen, to understand. Similarly, Zayneb cannot put herself in Adam's shoes either—all she can do is be there for him. Mostly, I love that both had their own stories in the years and days before they became part of one, and it’s a marvelous thing when they join it and we come to the meeting of the waterways. I love how their personal, separate struggles in the world do not change their moments together, and the comfort they contain. Their story left me with hope in the place of…everything else.

Overall, Love from A to Z is a brilliant, beautifully written and developed novel, and I'm excited to see what conversations it provokes. Highly recommended!
Profile Image for S.K. Ali.
Author 11 books2,180 followers
Read
June 3, 2021
2021 UPDATE from author: There's a short story featuring Adam and Zayneb that's available for free! It's called THE EID GIFT and it's available here at Simon & Schuster's website RivetedLit: THE EID GIFT
(You can add the story on goodreads too: The Eid Gift An Adam and Zayneb Story by S.K. Ali The Eid Gift: An Adam and Zayneb Story)
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Friends & fellow readers: I have finished writing the book. It is a book full of pain, love, anger, love, joy, and soul -- so much of it being the stuff we Muslims hold inside.
It is hard to share such a book with the world. You wonder if it will be "too much" or whether people will connect and understand.
But then you release the book because you've held on to the hurt for too long. And because you believe there's more love in the world than hate, more hope than fear.
Now, please have some knitted hearts... <3
description
Profile Image for Warda.
1,091 reviews17.4k followers
January 4, 2021
This story was a much needed narrative.
Other than the fact that I didn't fully connect with the writing, this book was pretty perfect in all aspects.

I was getting tired of the books that were getting published that featured Muslim characters for the sake of fulfilling the status quo. I wanted there to be depth to these stories, to showcase what the Muslim identity is and portray the Islamic faith.

Most of the books that are getting published are characters that are just Muslim - there's nothing that demonstrates what makes these characters different to others, Muslim, nothing substantial that displays awareness, to teach others about something that plays a huge part in our identity. The nuances were missed.

And it’s not like there was anything wrong with those books either. The problem lies with the fact that it was the only perspective we were getting so it can suite a white audience.

It seems like publishers were satisfied to cross certain aspects of the faith/Muslim identity off of their checklist, just so they could state that they have done their part.

No, you haven't. That’s not the purpose ‘diversity’ serves.

There isn't much I can say that hasn't already been said about Love from A to Z.
I loved Adam and Zeynab. I loved that they were connected to their faith and appreciated it. Their families warmed my heart and I enjoyed the differences in their personality and getting to know them.
And the faith!!!! I teared up quite a few times. It was so heartwarming to see the elements of Islam being accurately represented. I didn't realise how much I needed to see that till this book showed me the impact is actually does have. To see yourself in a book.

I so appreciate what S.K. Ali has done. I know I'll be supporting her books from now on and I hope things change for the better in the publishing world as a whole and that our narratives do not become one-sided.

—————————

Placed an order at my local bookstore.

I’m so ready for Muslims to take damn ownership for their own narrative.
Profile Image for emma.
1,784 reviews42.9k followers
January 29, 2021
I don't really know how to review this.

It was just...nice.

I didn't have a single problem with it. The representation (I obviously can't say whether it was good because it's not my representation) was a pleasure to read. The character development arcs were lovely. The romance, while not my favorite I've ever read, was sweet.

I don't have...anything to complain about.

Who am I if I'm not complaining?

(I also didn't fall in love with this book at all, which I guess is kind of a complaint, but even by my standards is very nitpicky. So...four stars.)

Bottom line: What have I become?

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pre-review

i am ready to die of cuteness.
Profile Image for ♛ may.
801 reviews3,761 followers
May 8, 2019
this book made me so ridiculously happy oh my heart where was this all my life 😭😭

"this is a love story. you've been warned."

i LOVE the characters so much. zayneb and her stubbornness, her heated personality. her passion for justice and how she took no crap from anyone, what a legend.
adam and his caring, sweet personality. this boy is so soft, his whole being is just caring about his little sister and worrying about his father, my smol son.

this book explores so many issues, zayneb tackling the blatant islamaphobia she receives on a daily basis from her teacher, adam struggling to come to terms with his recent diagnosis of multiple-sclerosis - a condition that took his mother's life so many years before, and yet the characters deal with their problems in such befitting ways

description

adam's point of view was exceptional, reading about his relationship with his mother, how her death impacted him, his relationship with his father and little sister was so beautiful, i cried (yes, shocking, i know)

AND OKAY the fact that it took place in doha, qatar 🤧🤧🤧🤧 and that shai karak ref 👌

HIGHLIGHT OF THE FREAKING BOOK:that epilogue. CUTEST EPILOGUE FDLKJAFDLASKJ I WASN'T READY FOR THAT
description


the only issue i had with the book was that the romance was a liiiittle too fast to start with. they were doing the mental 'it's better we dont get involved with each other, i'll just ignore them' just a couple meetings in

BUT DONT BE DETERRED bc as it progressed, it was
A D O R A B L E my heart almost burst from cuteness
Profile Image for may ➹.
463 reviews1,851 followers
September 7, 2020
The way I jolted hearing a Deep Manly voice suddenly fill my ears when my audiobook switched to Adam’s chapter......

I love Adam and Zayneb as characters so much! I think the author does a really great job of developing them—they both have very distinctive personalities and voices: Adam is super sweet and caring, and learning how to deal with his mother’s death along with his diagnosis of multiple sclerosis. And Zayneb is headstrong and stubborn, with a passion for justice and ensuring that bad people don’t get away with doing bad things.

(Also Zayneb on this cover is so pretty... I might be in love with her.)

This is definitely a very romance-centered book, so if you’re not into that, this might not be for you. (In fact, the opening quote is, “This is a love story. You’ve been warned.”) But I was in the mood for a light, cute romance, and this book definitely delivered on that; I thought Adam and Zayneb’s relationship was well-developed, especially for being a meet-cute, and I smiled so many times while listening to the audiobook.

I also really loved the non-romantic relationships the characters had as well. There was a lot of focus on family, like Zayneb’s aunt and Adam’s sister, and both characters’ parents too. They both are still learning how to deal with grief, though, with Zayneb mourning the recent loss of her grandmother, and Adam trying to figure out what it means that he is diagnosed with the very illness that killed his mother when he was younger.

Overall, I would definitely recommend this if you’re looking for a character-centered, romance-focused story! It’s simultaneously cute and will make you smile while also tackling more serious issues, and it’s very easy to find yourself rooting for the characters.

—★—

:: rep :: Muslim Pakistani-Guyanese-Trinidadian MC, Muslim Chinese-Finnish MC with multiple sclerosis

:: content warnings :: Islamaphobia (challenged), death of loved ones (off-page), chronic illness, depictions of grief, mentions of war
May 12, 2021

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This book made me shed a tear, and while that may not exactly sound like an impressive feat, you should know that I am an individual who guards their tears as jealously as a dragon guards its hoard. When I first heard about LOVE FROM A TO Z, I was so excited - I was ready to love it for that adoring glance between the hero and heroine on the cover, the hijabi rep, and of course, the promise of a love story unfolding abroad. How romantic.



But I was also afraid - afraid that it would be too twee, afraid of being burned yet again on a young adult book that was diverse, but didn't really do anything with that diversity. I was wrong on both counts. LOVE FROM A TO Z tricks you into thinking it might be annoyingly precious in the beginning, only to begin a deep-dive into two very different teenagers' lives, and the very real problems affecting them as they slowly but surely fall in love.



Zayneb is a Muslim girl of Pakistani and Caribbean descent. After going head to head with her extremely Islamophobic social studies teacher, she is sent to Qatar to visit her aunt to cool down. On the plane ride over, she is seated next to an Islamophobic woman, whose loud protest at being seated next to Zayneb is rewarded by a move to first class. It isn't all bad, though - she has an empty seat to herself, now, and a cute boy on the plane smiles at her.



The boy is named Adam, and he is of Finnish and Chinese descent. He is also Muslim, but he converted as a teenager because of his father's conversion and finding of peace through his new religion. He thinks the hijabi girl at the airport is cute - but what really draws her to him is her journal, which he sees when it spills out of her bag. It's called "The Marvels of Creation and the Oddities of Existence," just like his, which is named after an Arabic work of the same name, ʿAjā'ib al-makhlūqāt wa gharā'ib al-mawjūdāt (عجائب المخلوقات وغرائب الموجودات).



As they get to know each other more, they like each other more. Zayneb starts hanging out with Adam's friends from the international school, who are diverse and trendy, while checking in with her friends back home, who are launching a resistance group against their teacher and trying to find a way to link him solidly to his racist anti-Muslim posts online. Her frustration and powerlessness culminate after a series of new racist incidents, and finding out the truth of her grandmother's death.



Adam, meanwhile, is suffering in silence because he's just been diagnosed with MS - the same disease that killed his mother. He wants to tell his father but is afraid to, because his mother's passing almost broke him and he isn't sure his father is strong enough to sustain another devastating blow. My heart broke for him as he bore this heavy burden alone and tried to keep everyone at a distance to avoid them being hurt, not realizing that the distance and apparent coldness hurt them even more.



This is such a good book. There are moments where I did lift my eyebrows a bit, but every time the book seemed like it was going to become too cutesy, it threw another hardcore Truth Sandwich my way. This is a love story, but it's paved with pain and angst. One of the moments that made me cry, for example, is one of Adam's flashbacks of his mother, and her starting to cry because she's realizing that she will never live long enough to see him grow older. There must have been some serious onion-chopping going on that I wasn't aware of, because when I read that passage, my eyes became a veritable water park. Replete with slip n' slide action.



I honestly can't impress upon you how much this book surprised me, and in such a good way. I was rooting for both characters the whole time, willing them to overcome their struggles. It didn't just made me cry, it also made me laugh a couple times, and the ending made me put down the book and sigh a little in satisfaction like, "Whew, that was a job well done." Exactly how a book should make you feel once you've finished it, basically. (Even if it did tear at the corners of your soul.)



Thanks to the publisher for sending me a copy in exchange for an honest review!  



4 stars
Profile Image for Hamad.
972 reviews1,284 followers
July 21, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

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

🌟 This is not a solid 4 stars read for me, but I decided to be generous as I don’t read many books with great Muslim Representations!

🌟 The writing was good, It was not magical or anything special. I was bothered by the HP references that are now apart of almost every YA contemporary. I feel authors use it to sound cool and relatable but seeing it time after time became a pet peeve for me, where is the creativity people?!
But I need to mention that it was only a small thing I didn’t like, for the most part, it was good (although a bit cheesy at the end).

🌟The characters were cool too! I appreciate how she wrote 2 Muslim characters who are religious without being too free or too extremist! I said the same thing in I Was Born For this review and I am mentioning it again for its importance! We Muslims are normal people and we do everything!

🌟 The book deals with quite a few heavy topics such as lost of a family member, Multiple sclerosis and Islamophobia! The last part gave me The Hate U Give Vibes and I was glad for that as someone who deals with Islamophobia both online and in real life on a daily basis! I think it should get more recognition for that reason alone.

“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.”

🌟 Another virtual hug for the author for writing a love story without preaching the rules of Religion. there was no sex, no kisses and nothing added to sound edgy and cool! (I am throwing shades at another author here ahem ahem!).

🌟 Summary and Prescription: I enjoyed this book and I loved the messages it try to send! I was not blown away by the writing style but it was not bad at all at the same time. I think it succeeded in creating an accurate representation of Islam in the modern time although it turned a little bit sappy at the end. I recommend this for anyone looking for a great Islam rep!

First buddy read with the Dragons and Tea Book Club and I loved the experience!!

Profile Image for Layla.
316 reviews347 followers
December 9, 2021
~ 4.5 stars ~



This was quite the pleasant read. I didn’t expect to love it as much as I did. Not only did it have amazing Muslim rep, but it was also very enjoyable.

This book follows Zayneb, who is Pakistani and Carribean, and Adam who is of Chinese and Finnish descent, and their love and coming of age story. Zayneb and her friends have a plan to get her islamaphobic teacher fired by exposing his online alias where he runs in such hate groups, but when she gets suspended for drawing a knife, under the assumption that she is threatening him, her parents decide to send her on already planned trip to visit her aunt in Doha, Qatar a week early until this blows over. Adam who has been diagnosed with the same illness that killed his mother, multiple sclerosis (MS), has dropped out of school to dedicate his time to his art. But now he is going back home to Doha, and has to tell his dad and sister this news.

Adam and Zayneb meet in the airport on the way to Doha, where Adam notices that they have the same type of journal, in which they record marvels and oddities. It seems fate is pushing them together when they find themselves intertwined in each other's lives.

I will admit, I thought the relationship was very insta lovey and at times a bit cheesy as it played very heavily in the fated to be together trope, but it was still great.

Zayneb is a bit hot headed, but passionate and driven to succeed and accomplish and you will find it easy to root for her and understand her struggles as a hijabi muslim women. She is determined to not stand for injustice and to use her voice when it matters. While Adam, the ultimate sweetheart, balances her out perfectly, being more stoic and calm. Both him and his relationship with his younger sister Hannah are adorable. The fact that he also is a convert was wonderful and I liked how that was included in the story. Adam's struggle with coming to terms with his illness, but still wanting to live life at it's fullest and find his place in this world was very heartfelt.

I thought that it intertwined religion and culture perfectly into this. This was my first Muslim rep centered story and I am happy to have picked it up. Overall a fun, easy, and immersive read that I highly recommend.
Profile Image for  Teodora .
279 reviews1,535 followers
April 21, 2021
3.45/5 ⭐

I don't even know how I came up with the idea of reading this, but I just did and it was a pleasant surprise.
I liked this.

The whole idea of the book was to be realistic fiction of two persons who were both struggling with life's unpleasant stuff (like health issues and social stigma) and somehow, they manage to find each other and get to fall in love. In a beautiful and simple way.

This book talks about things that the nowadays society struggles with - big topics like racism and Islamophobia.
Yeah, I know, not the lightest topics on the planet, but they are real. And this story just shows how are they applied.

I am not going to lie, from time to time I got a bit conflicted by Zayneb's explosive manner as she tended somehow to get directly into a - mind you - proverbial fight. But I just kept in mind that with all the hate directed towards her, she just had to really find coping mechanisms that keep her afloat.
Adam is, however, such a sweet boy and some parts of his personal story really got to me. The bits of stories where the emotion was more intense were exposed in such a manner that your heart could've literally be made of ice and still, it would've cracked.

Apart from the fact that somewhere in the middle the story was just dragging without a seemingly good reason, I actually enjoyed it.
I just wished it was more about the nice feeling of love both Adam and Zayneb felt for each other.
Profile Image for Noura Khalid (theperksofbeingnoura).
479 reviews692 followers
February 6, 2019
Thank you Salaam Reads for the free (gifted) review copy in exchange for an honest review!

Here's my attempt to string together a bunch of sentences about the best thing that has ever happened to me.

*Clears throat* When I heard that a book like this was going to exists I was ecstatic. S.K. Ali wrote a book that made me feel seen. Books featuring Muslim characters are quite rare. I've made it my goal to read as many books centering around Muslims as possible this year. This book right here is what every Muslim reader should get their hands on. The struggles that Muslim's go through is depicted so so well. Especially, for girls who wear the Hijab (headscarf).

Zayneb's feelings resonated with me so strongly. I cried a couple of times during the book, and it's been so long since I've cried properly about a book. Zayneb was so headstrong and such an unapologetic Muslim, and I loved it! Adam was a complete ray of sunshine. In a way I felt like I related to him more. From his actions to the way he thought. Literally everything. Both characters had such complex personalities, and were very different from each other. Both of them had their own difficulties to face. Both dealt with them as best they could and in their own way. I loved their relationship above all, and I loved the way I could relate to them. Especially in the Muslim side of things.

I honestly never thought I'd ever get the chance to read a book like this. My heart is so full and I'm so grateful to have been given the chance to read and review this. I think every Muslim will appreciate the effort that was put into this. I hope this book also helps change the perception of Muslims in the world right now. Because I read this and I felt represented like never before. It brings tears to my eyes just typing this. I want the world to read this book and see things from our point of view. See the way we live and how it's so unlike what is shown on the media today.

I've written many reviews at this point but none have made me feel the way I do right now. Thank you to S.K. Ali for making this Muslim girl feel seen and proud to be who she is.
Profile Image for Romie.
1,053 reviews1,270 followers
May 24, 2020
this book was absolutely incredible, and soft, and pure, and I loved every single moment of it. It's not just a book about two Muslim kids falling for each other, it's about fighting for justice, for what you know is right; it's about standing up for yourself, but also asking if you need help. It's about finding the marvels and oddities of life.
Profile Image for ALet.
274 reviews242 followers
July 6, 2020
★★★★/5

This was really good, I really glad I read it.

The story itself was simple, but executed very well. Writing style was simple, not flowery, so it was easy to understand. Because of simplistic style it was a very quick read.

The main characters were interesting and fully formed, had their separate arcs so they were formed outside each other and that definitely helped the story.

On the other hand, because the plot itself was a little bit simple it was a little repetitive. In addition, side characters weren’t that fully formed (for example main character friends).

All in all, it is a good book with a few flaws, and reader like me who do not really like contemporary fiction still enjoyed this important story.
Profile Image for Arini ~ Miss Casually Reading.
666 reviews1,498 followers
December 29, 2022
3.75 Stars

This book was astounding and deserves so much more love. Y’all need to read it!!


I was pretty sure no book could top A Very Large Expanse of Sea in my eyes, but holy smokes!! This muslim love story book by this new-to-me author S.K. Ali was cute and beautiful and heartfelt and educational and just overall wholesome. I used to believe that stories like these two would not make an interesting book to read bcs all the restrictions, rules, and laws in Islam. But turns out they’ve brought a lot of crucial injustice against people of colors, of different faith, and others to light. I’m grateful that because of all these #ownvoices books that have been trending these past few years, we’ve all been educated and become more aware and understanding of ‘multicultural’ issues.

I don’t think me being a muslim and myself would’ve survived in a place where a zero to none understanding and hatred towards my faith was palpable. I live in a country where the majority of the people are muslims. Though I couldn’t comprehend the enormity of discrimination Zayneb received, it broke my heart and made me angry to read about it. I’m a pretty much ‘chill’ person. I hate conflicts so I’ll try to avoid them at any costs. Sometimes it was annoying to see how Zayneb would get so worked up about something. But it was also admirable that she never hesitated to speak up and wouldn’t ever let anyone disrespect and wrong her.

Adam and Zayneb were total adorbs!! They and their family were more ‘conservative’ compare to how i would rate myself as a muslim, but i really loved their interaction and how they had a high regard to the Islamic ‘rules’ when it comes to dealing with attraction and having a relationship with the opposite sex. I also loved how this book was written through journal entries of marvels and oddities. I think it was freshly unique.
Profile Image for Chelsea (chelseadolling reads).
1,471 reviews19.1k followers
August 20, 2019
Listening to the audiobook of this one might not have been the best decision because I had a really hard time focusing on what was happening :( I think I'm going to re-read it physically before I post a full review.

TW: Islamophobia, racism, chronic illness, death of a loved one
Profile Image for April (Aprilius Maximus).
1,088 reviews6,589 followers
August 8, 2019
tw: racism, islamophobia, xenophobia, death of a loved one (in the past), mentions of rape/honour killings, discussions of victims of war (drone killings), cultural appropriation, chronic illness (multiple sclerosis).

rep: Hijabi, Muslim, biracial MC (dad is from Pakistan and mum's parents are Guyanese and Trinidadian), another biracial MC (mum was Finnish/Canadian and Dad is Chinese/Canadian), lots of diverse side characters (biracial, black and others)


“Never, ever quake in the face of hate, Zayneb.”

This was absolutely phenomenal. I felt so much for these characters and got so upset and angry reading this (but also goofy smiles for the romance). Also, shoutout to Zahid and the theme of the kindness of strangers - those parts really had me tearing up 😭
Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
543 reviews3,548 followers
May 5, 2019
I received an arc of this book from the publisher in exchange of an honest review

Original review posted on my blog : Word Wonders

CW: Islamophobia, racist micro-aggression, cultural appropriation, chronic illness, talk of family death, mention of rape, discussion of war and war victims.

Marvel: The fact that Love from A to Z exists.
Oddity: The fact that I already read it and there isn’t any more to the story.

Do you ever go into a book, expect to love it and then…end up loving it even more? Like so much more that you can physically feel it because your heart is squeezing in your chest and all those feelings are begging to burst out of it, because that’s me. I have so so much love for Love from A to Z that I feel like no matter what I end up saying in this review, it won’t do it justice, and I know I love a few other Muslim contemporary books but not one of them has made me feel the way this one made me feel. Happy. Hopeful. Proud to be Muslim. Proud to be me.

The writing is absolutely gorgeous. I knew I loved Ali’s writing in Saints and Misfits, but she just blows it out of the water with her sophomore novel. She has this way with words where she knows just the exact ones to use to make the reader feel whatever emotion the character is feeling without ever being told that that’s how we should feel, it just…happens, and I found myself so invested in Adam and Zayneb’s emotions and personal stakes and journeys that I couldn’t help but root for their growth, not only separately but also together.

Love from A to Z is written in dual perspective, as diary entries in the form of “Marvels” and “Oddities” from both of the main characters’ journals which made the narration introspective and reflective and I loved that about it. There were also a couple narrator interventions that added such a nice touch to the book, further solidifying the fact that these are journals excerpts combined into one book. It also gave it somewhat of a fairytale feel.

The book starts when Zayneb is suspended from school, one week before spring break beings and is sent to spend two weeks with her aunt in Doha, while on the other side of the Atlantic ocean, in London, Adam is packing to go back home to his dad and sister in Doha. First of all, can I say how appreciative I am of the non-Western setting to the story? I loved it so much, mainly for the fact that Qatar is a Muslim country so it was -almost- completely removed from the context of Islamophobia Zayneb is so used to, living in the US, as a hijabi, a very visibly Muslim woman.

I also appreciated how through her characters main and side alike, the author showed so many different Muslim experiences. From Zayneb who was born and raised Muslim, to Adam who converted at eleven, including her mom who converted when she got married and his dad when he was grieving his own wife. And I love how all the things that make them the Muslim people they are were thrown so casually, as it should be.

Love from A to Z tackles Islamophobia but not in its loudest, most violent forms. It dives deep into the daily struggles of Muslims in the US (and other western countries), it shows how teachers, neighbors, acquaintances can all hate you for merely stating your beliefs and they wouldn’t tell you out right, they wouldn’t spit it in your face, but every and each word is wrapped in barbs and wires, every and each word is uttered with hatred that they don’t even try to hide, every and each word is said to tell you that you are everything that is wrong with the world for existing, for daring to believe in something different from what they believe in. And that hate speech wears you thin until you snap, and when you snap, to them, it’s not a human reaction, it’s proving them that everything they’ve ever thought about you is right. And that hurt so much to read, but it was also incredible. Because Islamophobia isn’t always loud and in your face, it’s the seemingly Mr. nobody, the “nice” person next door too. That’s what her teacher, Mr. Fencer represents.

And I loved how that was handled with everything in me. I loved how Zayneb in all her perfect imperfection handled it. I loved Zayneb and how unapologetically Muslim and unapologetically angry she was. And you know what I loved most about her? It’s that anger, and the way she navigated it. I could see so much of myself in her because I was that angry kid who burst out at every occasion and I was that angry teenager who had to learn to pick her battles, and that sometimes your anger is sometimes better quiet. I saw myself in her portrayal as an angry Muslim girl who was always told to keep her head down, to stop being so angry even when there are so many things to be angry about. So I loved seeing her grow and embrace that anger while also learning to wield it without ever really letting go of it, because I’m still an angry adult. I’ve just learned better.

Zayneb is jaded beyond her years because of the discrimination she faces, she’s also angry at said discriminations and refuses to hide it, she’s very vocal about everything that’s wrong with the world and feels the pain, not only hers but also that of every injustice, very deeply and wants to DO something about it. She is strong, confident and so so open about her feelings and that was very refreshing to read. She was also unapologetic and very sure in her Muslim-ness, and nothing could sway her from that, not even the world’s hatred. I was angry, sad, and happy for her all at once. Zayneb is Trini-Pakistani (her Trini side being of West Indian descent) and through her Pakistani side, Ali was able to broach the topic of the victims to the wars that are raging in West Asia (mainly Pakistan for…obvious reasons) as we speak, without erasing the US’ role in all those lost lives, and destroyed lands. And how even as a diaspora kid, Zayneb was still grieving for her people. And this is an element I didn’t expect to find in the story.

On the other hand, we have Adam, a biracial white/Chinese boy who’s so soft and gentle and caring, and who’s strength is more quiet, it works behind the scenes and shows in the way he is with his sister, his friends, and the way he’s been such a pillar for his family through all their hardships. He’s wildly optimistic and likes to see the good in things while still having this sadness to him that was ingrained in him by losing his mom, seeing his dad grieve and then finding out that he, himself, has the disease that killed his mom and having to come to term with it. I cannot speak for the representation of Multiple Sclerosis in this book but as the author’s note says, and, Adam’s manifestation of MS is just one of so many.

Now you’re probably raising your eyebrows and wondering: Fadwa, this book deals with so many heavy topics, why the hell does your title say “Unapologetically happy”, and let me tell you that despite the hardships, heartbreak, the grief, the sadness and the anger, Love from A to Z gave me an unfiltered kind of happiness that only a few books have given me. That happiness that comes with seeing representation that’s *for* me, and every other Muslim reader out there. That happiness that comes with seeing your feelings and struggles mirrored and validated. That happiness that comes with seeing that despite everything we can be put through, we still find ways to be happy, we still can be happy. It’s the kind of happiness that makes you cry.

Ali showed that even though, we, as Muslims, deal with a ton of shit, we still deserve our happiness and claw our way to it, while we still manage to find it in the smallest of things. Love from A to Z made me smile with Hanna (Adam’s little sister) in all her heartwarming innocence and adorableness, it made me laugh in the little dorky jokes that run between Adam and Zayneb, in the inside jokes that only Muslims can get the full impact of because we’ve either made the same ones, or have heard someone make them, and it made me fall in love with Adam & Zayneb’s love. Like seriously, they do not as much as touch until THE EPILOGUE and yet they had me internally screaming for their love and chemistry from the start. The banter between them flows so easily and I loved how open they were about their attraction to each other without acting on it. The anticipation of them finally being together was well fed by their cuteness once I reached the epilogue, so much so that it had me squealing. I lived for those last few pages.

By the time I flipped to the last page, my heart was filled with love and gratefulness and my eyes with tears. It was such a bittersweet feeling because on the one hand, I’m so happy this book exists I could wax poetry about it, but on the other hand I’m so sad there isn’t more of it, that I can’t read Love from A to Z for the first time all over again and experience the range of emotions it made me feel for the first time again.
Profile Image for Jessica .
2,014 reviews12.8k followers
August 26, 2021
This was really cute! I don't think the audiobook is the way to go with this one because there are so many characters and I got a little confused while reading who was who and the timeline of things, but I thought the romance was cute and I felt so much for Zayneb and the prejudices she faced because she's Muslim. Adam has been recently diagnosed with MS and hasn't told his family yet, and I loved having a character with a chronic illness in a YA book. Both Zayneb and Adam are dealing with such serious and heavy things, so I loved they had the hope and happiness of each other while they were navigating their individual struggles.
Profile Image for marwah.
407 reviews452 followers
December 6, 2022
edit 8/18/2022: I literally can't to reread ohmygod I miss them sfm my babies☹️💘💘

I take it back my expectations were reached.

THE EPILOGUE IM NOT OKAY THEY'RE SO PERFECT AND IN LOVE AND NOW IM CRYING AGAIN I LOVE THEM SO MUCHHEN
ABSOLUTE PERFECTION FLAWLESS

netflix take notes <3
Profile Image for chaity.
162 reviews341 followers
December 27, 2021
OK BUT WHO'S THAT CUTE BOY ON THE COVER? MY FRIEND WANTS TO KNOW.


Where Warner taught us to let Idiots burn in hell (in our minds, of course),S.K. Ali here gave us the lesson to eat people alive(Some people). And boy am I forever grateful for that.

—Nothing in this book was sugarcoated. This book really did politely kill Islamophobes.

It freaking breaks my heart to know that this book and Zaynab's experience was written based on true incidents. Someone actually had to went through all this (or something similar). On the surface this book seems like a cute romance-partly which it is-but there's more to it. While reading this book, I was once again reminded how much change our planet earth needs or rather now much some people need to change their mentality. Most of all, It reminded me that this world is filled with idiots. Waste-of-Oxyzen stupids who find only-Almighty-knows-what in hating people and attacking them for their faith and race. I pity them.


—Not all 'Strong young adult protagonists' own daggers and kill the Villain.

That's basically almost all the contemporary ya novels but you know what I mean. What I liked most were the characters. Zaynab was one of strongest protagonist of ya that I've came across. Not all the protagonists had to deal with Islamophobia. By the way, I couldn't relate to her AT ALL. It's a rare occasion for me to like a contemporary ya book where I cant relate to the main character. This book is clearly an exception for me here. Zaynab's journey was not so beautiful. But, it sure as hell was real and will be very much close to some people in many ways. I loved her. Adam is definitely not your typical ya protagonist. Such a refreshing character. I loved him. I needed more of him.(BOYWASHECUTE!) I want more of my Adam-Zaynab. Like, right now! And the families were also one of the best parts of this book.



—Also, the set up: take me to Doha already!
—The ending. That epilogue : p e r f e c t i o n. It won't be a lie if i say that's where this book completely won me.
—Well, let me confess, It's not a five star read for me because the writing kept putting me off. Who takes months to finish a book? The narration, to be honest, was real bad or maybe its just me. In my opinion, Its so far the worst journal-format-narration I've ever read. (4.5 -ish stars/5stars). Finally, we need more books like this one. We need more Zaynabs.
Profile Image for Julie Zantopoulos.
Author 3 books2,245 followers
March 9, 2019
ARC provided by the publishers and Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

I am not an own voices reader for this novel but I have read the reviews of a few and I love that they believe this story so closely mirrors their own lives and is a reflection of themselves, their culture, and their struggles with Islamaphobia and navigating the world we live in. It honestly makes my heart so happy.

"Never, ever quake in the face of hate, Zayneb."

At the core of this story is Zayneb, a Muslim girl from Indiana whose father is from Pakistan and whose mother is Guyanese and Trinidadian. She has a loving family, great friends, and an incredibly problematic and Islamaphobic teacher who frequently uses her religion and culture as an example of oppression and what's wrong in the world. Zayneb's mother wants her to behave, to not make noise at school, but one day she can take no more and her outburst gets her suspended from school prior to a scheduled break and so she leaves early for her aunt's place in Doha (Qatar). It's on her way there that we meet Adam, a Muslim himself (who converted and is Asian by heritage).

"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 feel like to be you. But here's another thing: I DO want to know."

We also get Adam's POV in this novel, Adam who is returning to his father and sister in Doha on break from University in London. Where Zayneb is fierce he's quiet and thoughtful. He's the soft but sturdy love interest that teenage girls may overlook but wiser women know you cherish. He loves his sister, is protective of his father, and incredibly loyal to those he loves. He's dealing with his own guilt and issues throughout the novel and turns to creating things and art to help himself through. That and Zayneb's smile and her bright blue hijabs. He's fallen for her, hard, and it's so touching to see. Throughout the novel, he is so respectful of her culture, their shared beliefs and religion, and the way that dating and courtship needs to proceed for Zayneb. He's open, he communicates, he's thoughtful and caring...the least toxic of men and I love him for it.

"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."

We see over and over throughout the novel how Zayneb is treated by those who are too closed minded to open their eyes to other cultures and religions. Whether it is her decision to wear a hijab, to wear different swim attire, or to speak her mind when she sees injustice (there's a scene where she confronts a fellow teen about wearing a Native American headdress because it was "trendy" and I legit cheered, guys!) Zayneb doesn't know how to sit quietly by when she sees something wrong in the world. I adore her for it! She's strong, she's passionate, and even when it scares her she's not going to let those things slide. She battles a lot with her mother's expectations of her and the fire burning inside her to do something, to get angry and to act. It's so real, so raw, and it's beautifully handled with angry and sad tears and lots of honest communication.

"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."

This is a stunning look at friendship, at first loves, forever loves, family relationships, racism, loss of loved ones, hate crimes, injustice, and hope. It's a beautiful and important story with themes that I think will speak to everyone. I HATE when people compare new books to other popular books-and I won't say this is the new The Hate U Give, but I will say that it read very similarly to me. It's heartbreaking and heartwarming, hurtful and hopeful and I really really enjoyed it. I defy anyone to read this and not fall in love with the spirit that resides in Zayneb.

Trigger warnings for loss of a parent, illness, terrorist attacks, and racism in the form of both subtle and outright comments.
Profile Image for h o l l i s .
2,335 reviews1,821 followers
June 4, 2019
I'm so so mixed on this one. To the point that I didn't even want to leave a review because I just don't know how to put my thoughts together about why this didn't work. But lets give it a go.

This has great representation, though I can't verify the accuracy behind either the Muslim or MS rep, but as it's #ownvoices for the former, I can hope the author was equally careful with the latter, too. But while I appreciated both, and though I found the situations to be charged with the rage and sadness they deserved, I didn't love the characters or the way the story was told.

There's some third party narrative at the beginning, briefly in the middle, and the end, that is explaining and piecing together the two protagonists' journal entries, as well as events, and it was just weirdly done? Like the moment I started this I had doubts. It really kinda threw me out of whack and I don't think I recovered because I didn't have characters to anchor me. At least not ones I liked.

But again, the situations, the issues, I felt for them, they hurt, and this is important in so so many ways. I just wish I could've rooted for the fiction the way I did the fact.


** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **
Profile Image for halfirishgrin.
288 reviews177 followers
March 24, 2019
This was one of my most anticipated reads of the year and IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT. It was actually somehow so much better than I could have imagined it would be. Just wow. Five stars is not even enough.

The book is told through alternative perspectives of Zeynab and Adam, both of them writing in "Marvels and Oddities" journals of their own. Both of them are Muslim, from different ethnic and cultural backgrounds. And they're so different from each other, in the best possible ways.

Zeynab, my absolute favourite character who I relate to on a level that I thought was almost impossible, is fuelled by anger. She's angry because of the injustice of the world. Because she's a brown Muslim hijabi who has been unfairly treated too many times, simply because of who she is. She is such a brilliant character because her anger and frustration is palpable and utterly real. She wants to fight the injustice that she, and others, face simply for existing, but it's not easy to fight when everyone is telling you that your anger needs to be tamped down. That you're bringing on more trouble than it's worth. But Zeynab shows us that anger is okay, and good and important.

Adam is pretty much the exact opposite. He's not angry. He's possibly the sweetest and most peaceful character ever. He converted to Islam when he was 9 years old, after his mother passed away, because he wanted to find peace. He is loving, kind, and caring, but he's also scared of the fact that he's been diagnosed with the same disease that killed his mother: MS. He's scared of confronting the reality of this and dealing with his family's reactions.

Together, Zeynab and Adam bring out the absolute best in each other, even if they're not always in sync. They have so much chemistry in this book--both as two friends who have a lot of respect for each other--and two people who are undeniably falling for each other. There is one scene where their differences spell disaster, and it's so brilliantly crafted. And so human and so honest.

The themes this book deals with is also just...incredibly important, especially in this day and age. Yes, it's a love story that centers two Muslim POC. It's also about the difficulties that Muslims face today. The everyday microaggressions that pick away at you. The big injustices, like a teacher who thinks he can paint all Muslims with the same brush and still be the "victim" and make Muslims the "villain." It's about how all over the world Muslim are being treated unjustly, being killed and often nobody cares. In fact, many people think we deserve it because we exist, we dare to be Muslim. ALL OF THIS IS IN THIS BOOK.

At times, this book felt like the middle of a conversation that I have with my Muslim friends about my frustration. Like Ali had listened in on my frustrations, all of the things that plague the lives of Muslims nowadays, and written them down into a book.

This is all gushing but...it's difficult to find books like this that center us so wholly and unapologetically. This book makes it very clear that it's written for Muslims. It doesn't try to water down its message or its Muslimness. It's peppered with all of the little things that colour the lives of Muslims in ways that non-Muslims don't experience. And it never tries to explain it to non-Muslims. It centers Muslims, caters to Muslims, first and foremost.

Please please please read this book! It is so important in so many different ways that I can't even write it all down here. I highly highly recommend it for EVERYONE.
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