Love, Hate & Other Filters

17-year-old Maya is struggling to find a way to tell her strict Indian parents that she wants to go to school in New York to study film, rather than go to a college close to home and study law. As she says, ‘My parents are frozen in the past, in the India of their youth.’ At the same time, the boy who she’s known and had a crush on since grad school has finally seemed to notice she’s alive. Could this be her chance for a boyfriend, despite her parents’ rules?

There is also a rising level of islamophobia happening around her and her friends, due to a terrorist attack that happens miles away from their town.

I was torn with this book: was it a teen rebelling against her parents’ style of romance or was it a slightly more serious look at life for a Muslim teenager in modern America in a context of rising Islamophobia? As Maya puts it, ‘it’s not a John Hughes movie, it’s my so-called life’. I did think that the supporting cast of characters were incredibly well written and helped make the story flow.

On the whole, it was an enjoyable book to read, and an intriguing glimpse inside one of the many cultures that makes up modern America. How do you live the so-called American dream, but still stay true to your family’s culture and beliefs?