Where are the Black Muslims in YA literature? Where are the Black Muslim romances? I wasn’t expecting to like Love from A to Z as much as I did, and let me tell you, I LOVED IT. But yo, this book blew my top off! It was that good. I listened to the audiobook and now I’m dying for a physical copy.
The story by author S.K. Ali, follows two Muslim teens who are graduating from high school and figuring out what the heck they want to do with their lives. Zayneb and Adam are traveling to the United Kingdom when they first encounter each other on a plane and are instantly drawn to one another. Adam realizes that they both write in the same journal, called Marvels and Oddities, and feels that their meeting must be fate. But he’s hesitant as he’s just been diagnosed with a disease that will likely kill him and he hasn’t even told his father about it, because his mama died from the same exact disease nine years ago! And Zayneb was kicked out of school after confronting a Islamophobic teacher about his racism. She’s trying to clear her name and get him fired, but her parents want her to keep her head down and be well behaved. But all she really wants is to change the world, to speak up, and to have freedom to be herself.
I loved that Zayneb was an Afro-Caribbean Muslim and that Adam was also mixed race. It was great to see two wonderfully complex teenagers fall in love and they had to deal with so much—both external and internal challenges. One thing I really loved about this book is it trained me to think about love at first sight differently. I’ve always felt that love at first sight is just bad writing. It’s lazy and idealistic and just plain boring. But I’m realizing that my view may be overly reliant on my American ideologies. Just because our country doesn’t really believe in love at first sight doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist and isn’t valid in other cultures. That topic was addressed in this book and I really loved how it opened my eyes. Many Muslims don’t date—they or their families—pick their partners and then just decide to work on their love at all costs. That’s a really beautiful “love at first sight” tale in my opinion.
*Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars
By Jesse E