The Friday 56: Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali

The Friday 56 is a weekly blog meme hosted by Freda’s Voice. Join us every Friday and share an excerpt from a book you’ve been reading.

Rules:

*Grab a book, any book.
*Turn to page 56 or 56% in your eReader.
*Find any sentence (or a few, just don’t spoil it) that grab you.
*Post it.
*Add your (url) post here in Linky. Add the post url, not your blog url. It’s that simple.

**Be sure to leave a link to your Friday 56 post in the comments!**

“It was hard to know when the switch would occur, so I’d decided to observe carefully, without once getting excited. (I, myself, have a tendency to get easily excited about everything, so with this type of crowd, I stand out.) I figured if I played it cool the whole time, I could learn what got them abuzz. (And then I could disappear into them, peacefully.)”

Apologies for this week’s post being a little late. I’ve been running on very little sleep all week and yesterday all I wanted to do was sleep. It was glorious. Today I am showcasing one of my most recent reads, S.K. Ali’s Love From A to Z. It centers two Muslim characters, their individual journals as well as a very sweet and kind of bumpy romance. Read my review here. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

From the Goodreads Synopsis:

      “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.”

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.

★★★★
(4/5)

Can’t-Wait Wednesday: Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali


Can’t-Wait Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Tressa @ Wishful Endings where bloggers share which upcoming releases they’re most looking forward to. Join us every Wednesday and watch your TBR list multiply.

I am so looking forward to S.K. Ali’s sophomore novel Love From A to Z. It sounds absolutely heartfelt and charming. I know so little about Adam and Zayneb, but I already feel like I am going to love them and I can’t wait to meet them. Cover is linked to Goodreads.

 width=Title: Love From A to Z
Author: S.K. Ali
Series: N/A
Pages: 352
Publisher: Salaam Reads
Release Date: April 30, 2019

      “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.”

Are you participating in Can’t-Wait Wednesday or Waiting on Wednesday? Is this book on your TBR? Be sure to leave a link to your post in the comments and I’ll visit!