C.G. Drews's Reviews > Hate is Such a Strong Word

Hate is Such a Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub
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really liked it
bookshelves: aussie-authors, best-of-2013, contemporary, young-adult

Being my first physical ARC, I was doomed to love this book. Doomed, I tell you. (But, if you want to be logical and Vulcan, you can also assume I was doomed to love this book because of the epic cover, the intriguing blurb, and the mention of hummus. I’m not Lebanese, but hummus could very well be the dip all crackers worship.)

But enough about hummus! The book! AWESOME. I loved it! I was totally hooked from page one, where Sophie was strategizing how to convince her dad to let her go out with her friends. It would be “unsafe” and Lebanese women should “stay at home”. Basically, Sophie can’t do anything. She can’t have sleepovers, she can’t go out with her friends, she can’t walk to school, nope. Naught. Why? Because good Lebanese women DON’T (you could get raped or murdered or lost or something). Sophie’s family might be in Australia, but they live in a close-knit Lebanese community. They speak Arabic at home, they go to a Lebanese/Christian school – basically EVERYTHING THAT IS GOOD IS LEBANESE.

I have to hand it to the author: she is an amazing writer. I LOVE her voice, her style, everything. And I love how she approached writing this book. It has such a strong, clear message, but it never once felt preachy.

Sophie’s family is really well-written. Okay, so her dad is a control freak (Sophie calls him Dictator Dad), so I expected him to be horrible and scary. He’s definitely sexist (he doesn’t make her little brother babysit because it’s a “woman’s job”) and he’s over-the-top protective. But he’s nice. He really loves his daughters and he wants to keep them safe. His mindset is back in Lebanon, and he keeps the culture fresh. But he wasn’t an orge. I really appreciated that. I also loved how the mother wasn’t put out as a whimpering woman who did what her husband said out of fear. No. It was out of LOVE. The family was loving and close-knit, and they had their issues (doesn’t everyone?) but it was presented fairly.

Sophie’s character was awesome too. She’s quiet and shy (introverts unite!) and I loved how she tried to stand up for herself and have her own values…buuuut, it never worked out quite as she wanted it. And I felt SO mad when her BFF ditched her to join the “cool girls”. Every character evoked emotion in me as I read: whether it was anger, or annoyance, or love. I wanted to be friends with Sophie! She’s awesome.

Downside? I felt the book was too much like LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI by Melina Marchetta. Okay, so I just finished reading that book (which means it was fresh on my mind), but a lot of the same points and ideals arose (except Melina Marchetta’s is about Italians not Lebanese). Sophie AND Josie (from LOOKING FOR ALIBRANDI) shared a lot of the same thoughts on their cultures (love/hating it), on their families (frustrated/adoring them), on sex and boyfriends (they wanted love-not-lust/virginity-is-admirable) and on school (high-achievers/very-smart/destined-for-uni). But that’s my only complaint.

I love this book! I love how it feels real. I love the family. I love the outcome. I love Sophie. I love hummus.
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Reading Progress

September 4, 2013 – Shelved
September 4, 2013 – Shelved as: to-read
September 11, 2013 – Started Reading
September 15, 2013 – Shelved as: best-of-2013
September 15, 2013 – Shelved as: aussie-authors
September 15, 2013 – Shelved as: contemporary
September 15, 2013 – Shelved as: young-adult
September 15, 2013 – Finished Reading

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