In Love, Hate and Other Filters, Samira Ahmed creates a believable set of characters. Maya Aziz longs to go to film school in New York, but her parents are determined for her to study law or medicine closer to home in Chicago. Maya harbours a secret crush on Phil, a jock from her school, while her mum and dad think Kareem, a fellow Muslim, is far more suitable. Things are complicated enough for Maya even before a Muslim-American sharing her last name is accused of committing a local terrorist attack.
For me, this book split into two quite different sections. The first half, in which Maya finds herself in something of a love triangle, was familiar in its use of YA contemporary tropes, although the importance of the cultural differences displayed gives the book a more unique perspective. Somewhat inevitably given its high profile in 2017 and similar subject matter, this first part reminded me a lot of When Dimple Met Rishi; not in a negative way at all, I hasten to add, as both these books are hugely important and, aside from that, plain good reads.
The second half, in which Maya confronts more obvious racism as well as the overwhelming fears of her parents, creates a very stark contrast, which I initially found discombobulating, although this did help me to empathise with Maya’s feelings of shock and fear. It’s a brave move in a YA novel, perhaps one made possible by the huge success of Angie Thomas’ THUG. I love that we have books dealing with these kinds of issues in YA. It’s so important and so valuable.
Overall, Love, Hate and Other Filters was an interesting and involving read. I didn’t always feel much affection for the characters, but I empathised with the huge conflicts, both internal and external, that Maya faces. More politically minded YA will always be welcome.