Review of Love from A to Z

Love from A to Z
by S. K. Ali
High School    Salaam/Simon    342 pp.
4/19    978-1-5344-4272-6    $18.99
e-book ed.  978-1-5344-4274-0    $10.99

Zayneb, a Muslim American high school senior, leaves for spring break in Doha, Qatar, a week early when she is suspended for a note she wrote in class about her Islamophobic history teacher. Adam, a Muslim Canadian college freshman, is returning to Doha to see his father and sister, with some unfortunate news about his health that he’s reluctant to disclose. Zayneb’s passion for justice fills her with righteous anger that she finds difficult to direct. Adam is a calm peace-seeker who wishes he didn’t feel quite so alone. What they have in common: each has been keeping a “Marvels and Oddities” journal (“recording the wonders and thorns in the garden of life”), based on an ancient book they’d both discovered. From the moment Adam sees Zayneb’s journal fall out of her bag at the airport, readers will be waiting impatiently for their connection to unfold — but, with such different temperaments, their relationship does not develop in an easy, straight line, and their doubts and the obstacles they face are convincing. Told through alternating perspectives, this compelling love story brings together a wide variety of cultures, political issues, and personality types. Readers are immersed in the teens’ world, feeling the frustrations of facing prejudice, the sadness of losing loved ones, and the hope that comes from mutual understanding. Ali (Saints and Misfits, rev. 7/17) has created an unforgettable couple in a deftly drawn setting. Sparks fly even as Zayneb and Adam avoid physical contact before marriage, making this a welcome halal love story for young adults.

From the September/October 2019 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.

Autumn Allen
Autumn Allen

Autumn Allen is an educator, writer, critic and independent scholar of children's and young adult literature. She holds an MA-MFA in children's literature and writing for children from Simmons University, and a master's degree in education from Harvard University. She is the 2020-2021 Writer in Residence at the Boston Public Library.

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