Will you love or hate this book?

Maybe both, with a title like “Love, Hate & Other Filters”

Adah McMillan, Copy and Design Editor

Reading Love, Hate & Other Filters is like watching a movie.

Which can be a good thing and a bad thing.

Maya Aziz is an Indian Muslim senior at a very white small town high school. She loves film and dreams of making movies for a living, but her parents have other ideas. Ideas that involve law school and the perfect Indian Muslim boy.

One of my favorite things about this book is Maya’s sense of humor. There’s sarcasm in almost every sentence, such as her first one, which says, “Destiny sucks.” So she clearly has an attitude modern teens can relate to.

Another thing that I can definitely relate to is her aversion for social situations: “I raise my camera. One thing I’ve learned: people love a camera, and when I’m filming, they see it, not me, so whenever I need to, I can quietly disappear behind my trusty shield,” (Pgs. 8-9). We all have shields: phones, excuses, books, fluffy pillows, actual metal shields (if you’re the gladiator type), etc. Maya’s is her camcorder. It helps her filter her own life. She can focus on the beautiful lighting and exquisite details in the moments she loves. She can bring out the ugly and cruel in the moments she hates. (See what I did there?) Her camera shapes her memories. This is why the author, Samira Ahmed, puts elements of film into her book. Maya is always commenting on how she would position her camera and what she would focus on if she were filming her life at that moment. She’s also always saying things like, “So-and-so told my parents the G-rated version of our encounter.” Don’t worry, she never gives anything an R-rating.

At a relative’s wedding, Maya meets Kareem, who is very handsome, goes to Princeton, and has perfect Indian-Muslim-boy manners. And the best part: he likes Maya. They text each other after the wedding and go on a super romantic date and meet the parents and all that nice stuff.

But, oh no, Maya has a crush on another boy: Phil, the even more handsome football player with sparkly green eyes and perfectly tousled hair and a super cute dimple. And a great personality, too, I promise.

But, oh no, Phil is not the perfect Indian Muslim boy that dances with sugar plums in Maya’s mother’s head.

And, oh no, Phil has a perfect relationship with his perfect girlfriend, Lisa.

AND, oh no, everything gets worse! A suicide bomber attacks the Illinois State Capitol, and the top suspect shares Maya’s last name. All of the racist people and general haters are looking to her family as someone to blame. There’s horrible things like broken bones and bricks through windows.

And, oh no, Maya’s parents are so scared of all the mean racists that they won’t let her go to film school in New York.

Oh no, what will our heroine do?

Here’s where the movie theme turns more “cliche-too-good-to-be-true” than “wow-a-clever-connection-to-the-main-character’s-personality-and-interests.”

SPOILER: She gets the guy. She breaks up with Kareem. Kareem is extremely supportive and understanding. Phil breaks up with Lisa. Then she has a perfect kiss with Phil. This usually doesn’t happen in real life. Don’t get your hopes up.

The whole suicide-bomber situation is still pretty bad, but Maya doesn’t get nearly as freaked out about it as she should. Like, she thinks it’s okay to run away from home with a fractured limb. Kids, don’t do that. Bad idea. You probably shouldn’t run away with intact limbs, either.

I won’t spoil too much, but some other pretty horrible things go down with the parentals, too, that Maya doesn’t take very seriously. And trust me, they’re very serious.

I don’t love it. I don’t hate it. This book is kind of in the middle for me. Hilarious and heartfelt, but not hilarious enough to make me laugh out loud and not heartfelt enough to make me cry. The author, Samira Ahmed, led me to believe Maya’s fight against prejudice and violence would be a major theme of the book, but it was more of a side-plot of her romantic adventures. I don’t have anything against a good romance, but this was too rom-com for a book. Maya acknowledges that her life is turning out like a movie, but noticing something doesn’t excuse it.

I wouldn’t move Love, Hate & Other Filters to the top of your to-read list, but if you don’t mind cheesy love and are running out of good books, go ahead and read it. You’ll lean more towards love than hate.