Love, Hate and Other Filters (Ahmed)

Love, Hate and Other Filters 
Samira Ahmed, 2017
Soho Teen
288 pp.

In this unforgettable debut novel, an Indian-American Muslim teen copes with Islamophobia, cultural divides among peers and parents, and a reality she can neither explain nor escape.
American-born seventeen-year-old Maya Aziz is torn between worlds.

There’s the proper one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter: attending a college close to their suburban Chicago home, and being paired off with an older Muslim boy her mom deems “suitable.”

And then there is the world of her dreams: going to film school and living in New York City—and maybe (just maybe) pursuing a boy she’s known from afar since grade school, a boy who’s finally falling into her orbit at school.
There’s also the real world, beyond Maya’s control.

In the aftermath of a horrific crime perpetrated hundreds of miles away, her life is turned upside down. The community she’s known since birth becomes unrecognizable; neighbors and classmates alike are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs. (From the publisher.)

Author Bio
Birth—ca. 1971-72
Where—Bombay, India
Raised—Batavia, Illinois, USA
Education—B.A., M.T.A., University of Chicago
Currently—lives in Chicago, Illinois

Samira Ahmed is and American-Indian author, born in Bombay, India, and raised in Batavia, Illinois—growing up in a house scented with the seasonings and spices of India. At the age of eight, while sitting in a car, a man tapped on the window and yelled, "Go home you goddamned fucking Iranian!" It was a racist incident that has haunted her over the years and became the inspiration for her 2017 novel, Love, Hate and Other Filters.

Ahmed attended the University of Chicago, earning both a Bachelor's and Master's of Teaching degree. After graduating, she taught high school English for seven years. She also spent for several years working with two non-profit groups—New Visions for Public Schools and Campaign for Fiscal Equity—attempting to establish 70 smaller high schools in New York City and to obtain additional public school funding from New York State.

Ahmed has appeared in the New York Times and New York Daily News, and on Fox News, NBC, National Public Radio, NY1, and on BBC Radio. Her creative non-fiction has appeared in Jaggery Lit and Entropy.

She currently resides in the Chicago, Illinois. (Adapted from various online souces.)

Book Reviews
Ahmed authentically and expertly tells a story relevant to today's climate. More than that, it's a meaningful #OwnVoices book about identity and inner strength that everyone should absolutely read.

Heartfelt.… Ahmed deftly and incisively explores the complicated spaces between "American and Indian and Muslim" in modern America.
Teen Vogue​

​This intriguing coming-of-age debut will rival Thomas’s The Hate U Give with its sensitive and must-read tale of an Indian-American Muslim teen and her battle with Islamophobia.​

A​n entertaining coming-of-age story that tackles Islamophobia​.
Paste Magazine

(Starred review.) In an astute debut, Ahmed intertwines a multicultural teen’s story with a spare, dark depiction of a young terrorist’s act. The characters are fully dimensional and credible, lending depth to even lighter moments and interactions. Alternately entertaining and thoughtful, the novel is eminently readable, intelligent, and timely
Publishers Weekly

(Starred review.) Maya's voice is pitch-perfect; funny, warm, and perfectly teenaged​. ​Sweet and smart with a realistic but hopeful ending, this novel is a great examination of how hatred and fear affects both communities, and individual lives. —Beth McIntyre, Madison Public Library, WI
School Library Journal

The book is wonderfully constructed. Maya’s voice is authentic, providing readers with insight into her life as an American Muslim teenager.… readers will find much to digest here and will be totally engrossed from page one.

(Starred review.) Ahmed crafts a winning narrator—Maya is insightful, modern, and complex, her shoulders weighted by the expectations of her parents and the big dreams she holds for herself. Brief interstitials spread evenly throughout the text key readers into the attack looming ahead, slowly revealing the true figure behind its planning with exceptional compassion. Utterly readable, important, and timely.

High school senior Maya Aziz works up the courage to tell her parents that she's gotten into the film school of her dreams in New York City, but their expectations combined with anti-Muslim backlash from a terror attack threaten to derail her dream.… A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a secular Muslim teen in today's climate. (Ages 13-18)
Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions
We'll add publisher questions if and when they're available; in the meantime, use our LitLovers talking points to help start a discussion for Love, Hate and Other Filters … then take off on your own:

1. How would you describe Maya? Do you admire her … find fault with her … or what? Were you suprised by her final act of rebellion; does it seem out of character?

2. How do Maya's dreams clash with her parents' aspirations for her? Are those contradictions typical of most adolescents and their parents? Or are they perhaps more intense among immigrants who want their children to assimilate yet still maintain ties to their ancestral culture?

3. Maya's narrative alternates with interludes of the troubled young man who commits the Springfield killings. How did you feel reading those passages? Did their display of hate and racism unsettle you, even spur you to consider your own preconceived ideas? If you are an immigrant living in a country with a different culture from your previous country, does the depiciton of prejudice in Ahmed's novel ring true to you?

4. Talk about the attack in Springfield and its affect, physically and emotionally, on Maya and her family.

5. Discuss the role Hini plays in Maya's life. What has Hini sacrificed in her pursuit of independence? What does she offer her niece in terms of Maya's own future?

6. Consider the book's title, especially the word "filters"—obviously drawn from Maya's fascination with film and cameras. How does Maya use filters in her daily life? Do you have filters in your own life?

7. Phil … or Kareem? Who are you rooting for? To what degree is Phil responsible for Brian?
8. What do you think of Violet and her fierce protectiveness of Maya? Thinking back on your own life, have you ever had a friend like Violet … or been a friend like Violet?

(Questions by LitLovers. Please feel free to use them, online and off, with attribution. Thanks.)

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