ARC (Snapshot) Review: Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

Title: Love From A to Z
Author: S.K. Ali
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Release Date: April 30th 2019
**Disclaimer: I received an ARC of this book from the publisher which does not influence my review.**

      “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.”

swirl (2)

  • Zayneb – I feel a strong kinship to Zayneb and this has largely to do with how angry she is. Often times anger is depicted as a negative characteristic, but I loved that Zayneb’s anger isn’t where she begins and ends. Her anger is often justified and says more about her incredible capacity for empathy. That being said, Zayneb also begins to realize that she is only one person and she has to find that right balance between caring and self-care.
  • Adam – I’ll always have a soft spot for soft boys. Adam is such a kind character and I loved his relationship with his little sister Hanna. One of his goals is to make sure she has as many memories of their mother as possible, who passed when her MS took a fatal turn. Adam struggles with his own diagnosis and the lingering fear that his fate might be the same as his mother’s.
  • Centering two Muslim characters – I loved that our two leads had very different experiences being Muslim. For Zayneb, her hijab is an immediate indicator of her religion and makes her a target more than Adam. For Adam, he hasn’t experienced this kind of prejudice, but learns to open his eyes to the things that he might not have first-hand knowledge of.
  • The way the characters balance each other out – Although I’d argue that Zayneb is empathetic, she does have her blindspots and I think Adam helps her recognize these. For Adam, Zayneb pushes him out of his often complacent safe zones.
  • Confronting prejudice head-on – Not only do characters challenge Islamophobia in the story, the narrative challenges readers to confront both the direct and indirect ways this kind of prejudice has all over the world.
  • Idealism vs reality – If the novel had ended its story in the middle of the novel, it would have been an incredibly beautiful love story, but Ali leads her characters and story in a different direction, challenging them to see how they both have been viewing each other through idealistic lenses.

  • More conflict – I kind of wish the conflict between the two leads would have happened sooner and that it lasted longer. They learn so much about themselves and each other because they are at odds and I wouldn’t have minded exploring this more.

S.K. Ali’s Love From A to Z is an uplifting, thought-provoking, and incredibly satisfying contemporary. If you haven’t had the pleasure of picking up Ali’s novels yet, I highly recommend you do so.


12 thoughts on “ARC (Snapshot) Review: Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

  1. After adoring Saints and Misfits, I’m so darn excited for Love From A to Z, and I’m hoping S.K. Ali will get the hype and attention she deserves. I loved the characters she created in her debut, and from your review it seems like the characters really shine here too. I can’t even describe how bloody excited I am! Great review. 🙂

    Veronika @ Wordy and Whimsical

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Great review! This sounds like a wonderful read! I love that the main character gets to be angry, without that becoming her defining trait. I wish more teenage girls in books were allowed to be angry, it’s a completely valid emotion. And ah, soft boys are the best ❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I have both of S.K. Ali’s books on my TBR list and I’m SO looking forward to reading them. This sounds so, so cute, and I’m so excited to read books focused on Muslim characters. Wonderful review and you’ve made me even more excited to read this. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I adored this book and gave it 4.5/5. It was just continuous feels for me. Agreed – Adam is a beautiful soft boy, but his emotional journey was very touching for me too. I like Zayneb a lot too, and loved that her aunt was there to help her harness her passion in a way, that allows her to effect change. It was cool to be in a country I have never read about yet in a book, and the ending!!! I love me a jump ahead, and it was beautiful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. How would a high school-age boy hid a doctor’s visit from his father? I mean, the insurance claim goes right to your house with your parent’s name on it.

    I’m glad the main character is angry, too. I hate the trope of an angry woman who is just angry because women are angry.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. This was also my first reaction, but it turns out that Adam is 18, a freshman in college, and living in another country from his family. Zayneb’s anger is very much a justified anger and very relatable when you think about all the things she goes through.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. So glad you liked this book. This probably wasn’t my favorite book ever, I liked Saints and Misfits quite a bit more, butI really enjoyed this book for what it was. And I absolutely adored Zayneb—I agree, a lot of the time angry characters get a bad rap, but I think Ali handled it really well and helped the reader see that anger isn’t a bad thing.

    Liked by 1 person

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