Love, Hate and Other Filters

Paperback
$10.99 US
5.47"W x 8.23"H x 0.79"D  
On sale Jan 08, 2019 | 312 Pages | 978-1-61695-999-9
| Grades 6-12
NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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. 

  
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 pursuing a boy she’s known from afarsince grade school.

But 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 are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.
© Thomas Jones
Samira Ahmed was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in a small town in Illinois in a house that smelled like fried onions, cardamom, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, she taught high school English, helped create dozens of small high schools, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools. She's lived in Vermont, Chicago, New York City, and Kauai, where she spent a year searching for the perfect mango. Love, Hate & Other Filters is her first novel. View titles by Samira Ahmed
CHAPTER 1
 
Destiny sucks.
     Sure, it can be all heart bursting and undeniable and Bollywood dance numbers and meet me at the Empire State Building. Except when someone else wants to decide who I’m going to sleep with for the rest of my life. Then destiny is a bloodsucker, and not the swoony, sparkly vampire kind.
     The night is beautiful, clear and bright with silvery stars. But I’m walking across a noxious parking lot with my parents toward a wedding where a well-meaning auntie will certainly pinch my cheeks like I’m two years old, and a kindly uncle will corner me about my college plans with the inevitable question: premed or prelaw? In other words, it’s time for me to wear a beauty-pageant smile while keeping a very stiff upper lip. It would be helpful if I could grow a thicker skin, too—armor, perhaps—but we’re almost at the door.
     My purse vibrates. I dig around for my phone. A text from
Violet: You should be here!
     Another buzz, and a picture of Violet appears, decorated in streamers, dancing in the gym. Jeans skinny, lips glossed. Everyone is at MORP without me. It’s bad enough I can’t go to the actual prom, but missing MORP, too, is death by paper cuts. MORP is the informal prom send-up where everyone goes stag and dances their faces off. And there are always new couples emerging from the dark corners of the gym.
     I miss all the drama, as usual.
      “Maya, what’s wrong?” My mother eyes me with suspicion, as always. I only wish I could muster up the courage to actually warrant any of her distrust.
      “Nothing.” I sigh.
      “Then why do you look like you’re going to a funeral instead of your friend’s wedding?”
     I widen my toothy fake smile. “Better?” Maybe I should give my mom what she wants tonight, the dutiful daughter who is thrilled to wear gold jewelry and high heels and wants to be a doctor. But the high heels alone are so uncomfortable I can only imagine how painful the rest of the act would be.
      “I guess a little happiness is too much to ask of my only daughter.”
     Dad’s chuckling, head down. At least someone is amused by my mother’s melodrama.
     We step through an arc of red carnations and orange-yellow marigolds to a blur of jewel-toned silk saris and sparkly fairy lights strung in lazy zigzags across the walls. The Bollywood-ized suburban wedding hall feels pretty cinematic, yet the thought of the awkward social situations to come makes me turn back and look longingly at the doors.
     But there is no escape.
The tinkling of her silver-belled anklets signal the not-to-be-missed approach of Yasmeen, who addresses my mother with the honorific “auntie,” the title accorded all mom-aged Indian women, relation or not. “As-salaam-alaikum, Sofia Auntie!”
     Yasmeen is only two years older than me; in my mom’s eyes, we should be BFFs. Our parents have known each other since their old Hyderabad days, and my mom has been trying to make a friendship happen since Yasmeen’s family moved to the States several years ago. But in real life, we’re a dud of a match. Also, she’s an annoying kiss-ass.
     But the girl’s got style. Yasmeen is dressed to snare the attention of a suitable young gentleman. Preferably more than one, because a girl needs options. Her peacock-colored lehanga that sweeps the floor, her arms full of sparkling bangles, her emerald-and-pearl choker, and the killer kajal that lines her eyelids make her the perfect candy-colored Bollywood poster girl.
      “Asif Uncle! How are you? Mummy will be so excited to see you both. Maya Aziz, look at you. You’re adorable. That shade of pink really suits you. You should wear Indian clothes more often, you know?”
     I don’t even try to hide it when I roll my eyes. “You’ve seen me wear Indian clothes a million times.”
      “Come on, Ayesha is getting ready in the bridal room.”
     My mom winks her blessing at Yasmeen. “Take her, beta, and show her how to be at least a little Indian.” So much for family solidarity.
     Yasmeen wraps my wrist in a death grip and drags me through the lobby to the tune of “Ek Ladki ko Dekha,” an old Bollywood love song that inspired millions of tears.
     Everyone seems happy to be here, except me.
     It’s not just that I hate weddings, which I do. But also because it’s Ayesha. I’ve known her most of my life. She’s five years older than me, and in middle school I was in awe of her. The arsenal of lipsticks in her purse and her ability to deploy them perfectly was the kind of social prowess I dreamed of. I never imagined her succumbing to an arranged marriage, especially not right out of college. Even if it was a modified arrangement that involved three months of clandestine dating.
     Yasmeen leaves me at the door when she spots her mom summoning her to meet another auntie. And the auntie’s son. Sweet relief.
     When I step into the bridal prep room, I stop short.
     Ayesha is the living embodiment of an old-school Hollywood halo filter. It’s breathtaking. I take a moment to absorb the sight: my bejeweled friend in her intricate ghagra choli—a ball skirt and short blouse of cherry-colored silk embroidered with gold threads and encrusted with tiny beads and pearls.
      “Ayesha, you’re stunning.”
      “Thank you, love.”
     I’ve seen Ayesha smile a million times, but I’ve never seen her smile like this, like she invented the concept of joy.
      “I-I have a surprise,” I announce, stammering. I remove my camcorder from my bag and hold it up like a trophy. “I’m shooting a movie of your wedding . . .”
     Before Ayesha can respond (or protest), the door swings open. Her mother, Shahnaz Auntie, triumphantly arrives with the bridal party in tow. They are ready to take their positions. And only an hour behind schedule, which is basically on time for an Indian wedding.
      “See you out there,” I murmur.
     I blow Ayesha a kiss and walk backward, filming the preprocessional scramble. I take a tracking shot into the wedding hall, aglow with thousands of candles, red-and-orange bouquets bursting from the center of tables. I follow the gold organza that drapes the ceiling and trails the flower-strewn aisle leading to the mandap—the traditional wedding canopy under which the vows will take place.
     My mother sees me. Too late for me to hide, even with my camera in hand. She beckons me over to her table, not with a subtle head tilt or single finger hook, but with a full arm wave, drawing the entire room’s attention. She’s chatting with another middle-aged, sari-clad woman. And a boy—I’m guessing her teenage son.
     But my aunt Hina is also at our table. Salvation.
     It’s hard to believe she is my mother’s sister. Hina is ten years younger than Mom, has short hair, a zillion funky pairs of eyeglasses, is this amazing graphic designer and cool in ways I can only aspire to. The weird thing is, you’d think my mom wouldn’t get along with Hina, but they have this unbreakable bond.
     My mom is still waving madly at me. I steel myself, lower my camera, and walk over.
      “As-salaam-alaikum, everyone,” I say and bend to kiss Hina on the cheek.
      “Maya, this is Salma Auntie.” My mom takes me by the elbow to draw me nearer, then raises her voice. “And this is her son, Kareem.”
     Did I mention that subtlety is not my mother’s strong suit?
     I glance over at my dad, deeply involved in a conversation with Kareem’s dad—no doubt about the economy, lawn-mowing equipment, or the trend of teeth whitening at the dental practice he runs with my mom.
      “Maya, Kareem is a sophomore at Princeton,” my mother says, “studying engineering.” I can practically see the cartoon light bulb over her head as she speaks.
      “How’s it going?” Kareem asks. He scans the room, disinterested. Not that I can totally blame him; no doubt he gets my mother’s message loud and clear. He sports a goatee that I assume is meant to make his boyish face look older or tougher. It does neither. On the other hand, it succeeds at drawing my attention to his rather gorgeously full lips. He has a nice mouth in spite of whatever might come out of it.
     My defenses are up. “It’s going fine.” I cross my arms. “Did you fly in for the wedding?”
      “My mom asked me to come. I took a long weekend.” Kareem’s wandering eyes finally meet my own. His are brown, like mine, like most Indians’, but so dark that the pupil almost completely fades into the iris. They’re liquid and beckoning. And his lips. There is no denying that Violet would label them delish.
      “Kareem, Maya will attend University of Chicago next year.”
     This from his mother, whom I’ve never met. But I understand her attempt to draw out the conversation.
      “I got in, but I haven’t decided yet,” I correct.
     Inside, I’m squirming. Nobody here but Hina knows my secret. I’ve applied to NYU and been accepted. NYU is my dream school. I’m not going to the University of Chicago if I can help it. The mere fact that I’ve pulled off this feat—under the radar, in spite of the ever-present gaze of my parents—represents a tiny victory, one that fills me with both hope and guilt. My stomach churns every time I get close to telling them. Especially my mother.
     But I have to tell them. And soon. This secret has an expiration date. How, though? How can I tell my mother that I don’t want to go to a great school—one that’s an easy commute from home, but also from endless family obligations and her constant hovering?
      “Decide? What’s to decide?” my mom demands, as if reading my thoughts. “You’ve gotten into one of the best schools in the country. It’s decided.”
     Sitar music fills the lapse in conversation.
      “Maya, I saved you a chair next to me,” Hina offers.
      “Thanks,” I whisper. I sit and squeeze her hand under the table.
      “No problem.” She leans close, lowering her voice. “Cute guy, by the way—”
      “Shh.” Now I’m full-on blushing, afraid Kareem, or worse, his mother, will overhear.
     The sitar music fades into a remix of a forever classic, “Chaiyya Chaiyya.” It booms from the speakers. 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.
     Ten guys, the groom’s friends and family, led by a man playing the dhol, an Indian drum, begin to dance their way to the mandap. The music slows while the groom walks down the aisle with his parents. Rose and jasmine garlands encircle the groom’s neck.
     Ayesha’s cousins and friends follow in an array of colorful saris. Each one cups a glass lotus-shaped votive—their faces radiant above the candlelight. I zoom in to catch the dramatic effect. Finally, Ayesha and her parents appear at the door. The music slows, and a bright Urdu love song takes over from the sonorous dhol. The guests rise. As Ayesha enters the room, a wave of aaahs and camera flashes precede her down the aisle. She floats toward her groom. Shahnaz Auntie, the bride’s mother, looks grim, probably worried about her daughter’s reaction to the wedding night.
     Note to Shahnaz Auntie: Ayesha is not going to be shocked.
     The cleric begins with a prayer in Urdu, translating everything into English for the many non-Urdu speakers. I catch my parents looking at each other affectionately. I can’t turn away fast enough.
     The vows are simple, the same kind of pledges I’ve heard at weddings of every faith. Except at the end, there is no kiss. I close in for the money shot anyway, hoping for a moment of rebellion from Ayesha and Saleem. But no. No public kissing allowed. Full stop. The no kissing is anticlimactic, but some taboos cross oceans, packed tightly into the corners of immigrant baggage, tucked away with packets of masala and memories of home.
  • NOMINEE
    Carnegie Medal
A New York Times Bestseller
A Seventeen Magazine Best YA Book of 2018
An ABA "Indies Introduce" Selection for Winter/Spring 2018
An ABA IndieNext "Top Pick"
A Paste Best YA of the Decade
A Spring 2018 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection 
A Kobo Winter eBook Indie Pick
YALSA 2019 Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee
A Seventeen Magazine Top 22 Young Adult Book of 2018
A Society of Midland Authors Literary Award Winner in Children's Fiction
A Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist 2018 
A 2019 Illinois Reads Selection
A Reading Group Choices Favorite Young Adult Book of 2018
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2018
A Bustle Best Young Adult Book of 2018

A 2018 Shimmy Awards Semi-Finalist
A School Library Journal Top 10 Audiobook of 2018
A Buzzfeed Best Book of 2018
A 2019 TAYSHAS List Selection

BookPeople's Teen Press Corps Top 18 Books of 2018

Praise for Love, Hate and Other Filters


​"​Intensely readable."
—The Guardian

“Heartfelt . . . Ahmed deftly and incisively explores the complicated spaces between 'American and Indian and Muslim' in modern America.”
Teen Vogue

"For those of you who sometimes wish your parents would just let you run your own life, let Love, Hate & Other Filters be your savior."
—Seventeen Magazine

Love, Hate, & Other Filters is a compulsively readable, totally adorable coming-of-age rom-com with a serious, and timely, side.”
—Cosmopolitan

"[An] incredible debut novel." 
—Elle

"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." 
—Buzzfeed

​"​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.​" 
—HuffPost

“The perfect mix of romance and personal reflection.” 
—HerCampus​

"Books can teach you a lot about people, places and cultures; Love, Hate & Other Filters is one of those books. This book is relatable to anyone that has ever felt as if they don’t fit in or anyone who wants to learn to stop the hate . . . Love, Hate & Other Filters is 2018's most important YA novel."
—Christian Science Monitor

​“This smart, heartbreaking, honest debut novel is as timely as it is hopeful. Ahmed tackles weighty issues with thoughtfulness and flair. I was completely swept away.”
—Sandhya Menon, New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi

“Love, Hate & Other Filters heralds a dazzling new talent. Samira Ahmed creates a masterful alchemy of heart, humor, profundity, poetry, romance, and humanity. Through the eyes of the richly drawn Maya Aziz, we get a powerful, timely-yet-timeless, and poignant story about the delicate dance of coming of age in two cultures.”
—Jeff Zentner, William C. Morris award winner of The Serpent King

“A heartbreakingly beautiful debut that weaves together the rush of new love, the shock of old hatred, the pressure of protective parents and the culture clash between generations—in other words, a cinematic glimpse into one experience of growing up Muslim in modern America.”
—Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time

“Love, Hate & Other Filters
made me laugh and made me cry. Maya Aziz is a teen everyone needs to know. Her story—an exploration of the unique challenges Muslim Americans face as she pursues her dreams, falls in love, and finds her place within her family and her faith—is one that will stay with me forever. A much-needed addition to the young adult canon.”
—Aisha Saeed, author of Written in the Stars

“Love, Hate & Other Filters hit so close to home, it sometimes hurt to read. I laughed at Maya's wry observations and wept at her profound ones; this book is a searing, honest portrait of what it really means to be a Muslim American teen loyal to two cultures and figuring out how to carve out a space of her own in between.”
—Sarvenaz Tash, author of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

“Love, Hate & Other Filters shines with heart and hope in the face of prejudice. Samira Ahmed is a bright new star in the YA firmament.”
—Marieke Nijkamp, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Where It Ends
 
"[A] brilliant, heartbreaking, empowering debut."
—Supriya Kelkar, author of Ahimsa
 
“A deeply moving YA debut.”
—Elite Daily ​

"A fantastic book."
—WAMC, The Roundtable

"A raw look at the cultural realities of violence and prejudice as well as the coming of age of a young woman . . . [Samira Ahmed] is someone to watch."
KRCB's A Novel Idea

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

"​A breathtaking debut by an #OwnVoices author​."
—BookRiot

“This sweet, honest, charming debut skillfully balances joy and pain, loyalty and independence, humor and heartbreak, and establishes Ahmed as a definite author to watch.” 
—Barnes & Noble Teen Blog ​

"If you're looking for a contemporary romance that doesn't shy away from the true experiences of the modern teen—prejudice, discrimination, violence, political unrest—this #OwnVoices book is perfect for you."
—Bustle

“Love, Hate & Other Filters
offers a bit of solace to teenagers growing up in a tense political climate.​”
—HelloGiggles

"A promising debut novel . . . [Maya's] story of family expectations and her dreams is bound to strike a chord with almost every South Asian American."
—The American Bazaar

​“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


“​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.​”
​—Booklist, 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.”
—​School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Extremely timely. Reminiscent of Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, Love, Hate & Other Filters brings an authentic new voice to Muslim-American literature for young adults.”
BookPage, Top Teen Pick for January ​

​“The core relationships are authentic and memorable, and the conclusion is satisfying. A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate." 
—Kirkus Reviews

“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.”
—VOYA​

“[Love, Hate & Other Filters] starts out as a pitch-perfect romantic contemporary, then turns everything upside down when Maya must confront Islamophobia, try to find a balance between her cultures and stand up for her dreams. A must read for fans of Adam Silvera, Angie Thomas and Jenny Han.”
—Justine Magazine

“​Ahmed brings glorious life to Maya’s story, providing cultural details that are relatable to many whether from Maya’s specific background or not​. ​Readers will appreciate Maya’s passionate pursuit of her dream and her journey to embrace and respect her cultures while remaining true to herself.”
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books ​

“Samira Ahmed’s debut thoughtfully explores life in America through the eyes of a child of immigrants, the far-reaching effects of racism and religious intolerance, and the challenges of balancing personal dreams and parental expectations."
—​Bookish​

​“A​n unforgettable debut novel  ​. . . beautifully written.”
—Bitch Media​

"A coming-of-age story ripped from the headlines full of pop culture references, sweet romance, and a powerful message about what it means to be a young American (no matter the hyphens) in a climate of nationalism and fear, Love, Hate and Other Filters is a perfect choice for book clubs seeking to share relatable, relevant titles that spark discussion, or #ownvoices additions to school and library collections."
—Nerdy Book Club

“Ahmed has written a book that will sucker punch you with emotions—much like teen life it is cute one minute and raw the next. It is a masterpiece.”
—Rachel Strolle, Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville, IL

“A compelling balance of relationship woes, family drama, and racial violence. I really appreciate how this book doesn’t pull punches about the reality of being a Muslim teen in the US today, but also gives the protagonist a creative passion, cute boys, and a positive ending. An excellent read.”
—Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop

Love, Hate and Other Filters has everything you want in a realistic YA novel: characters that come fully to life; a mix of humor, horror, and romance that add up to the normal high school experience; a protagonist who grows and changes through it all. But in this case she’s a Muslim-American and there are terrifying events unfolding in the background that will affect her and her family in a number of ways. This is irresistible, page-turning fiction wrapped around a core that’s smart, serious, and thought-provoking.”
—Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop

About

NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER

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. 

  
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 pursuing a boy she’s known from afarsince grade school.

But 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 are consumed with fear, bigotry, and hatred. Ultimately, Maya must find the strength within to determine where she truly belongs.

Author

© Thomas Jones
Samira Ahmed was born in Bombay, India, and grew up in a small town in Illinois in a house that smelled like fried onions, cardamom, and potpourri. A graduate of the University of Chicago, she taught high school English, helped create dozens of small high schools, and fought to secure billions of additional dollars to fairly fund public schools. She's lived in Vermont, Chicago, New York City, and Kauai, where she spent a year searching for the perfect mango. Love, Hate & Other Filters is her first novel. View titles by Samira Ahmed

Excerpt

CHAPTER 1
 
Destiny sucks.
     Sure, it can be all heart bursting and undeniable and Bollywood dance numbers and meet me at the Empire State Building. Except when someone else wants to decide who I’m going to sleep with for the rest of my life. Then destiny is a bloodsucker, and not the swoony, sparkly vampire kind.
     The night is beautiful, clear and bright with silvery stars. But I’m walking across a noxious parking lot with my parents toward a wedding where a well-meaning auntie will certainly pinch my cheeks like I’m two years old, and a kindly uncle will corner me about my college plans with the inevitable question: premed or prelaw? In other words, it’s time for me to wear a beauty-pageant smile while keeping a very stiff upper lip. It would be helpful if I could grow a thicker skin, too—armor, perhaps—but we’re almost at the door.
     My purse vibrates. I dig around for my phone. A text from
Violet: You should be here!
     Another buzz, and a picture of Violet appears, decorated in streamers, dancing in the gym. Jeans skinny, lips glossed. Everyone is at MORP without me. It’s bad enough I can’t go to the actual prom, but missing MORP, too, is death by paper cuts. MORP is the informal prom send-up where everyone goes stag and dances their faces off. And there are always new couples emerging from the dark corners of the gym.
     I miss all the drama, as usual.
      “Maya, what’s wrong?” My mother eyes me with suspicion, as always. I only wish I could muster up the courage to actually warrant any of her distrust.
      “Nothing.” I sigh.
      “Then why do you look like you’re going to a funeral instead of your friend’s wedding?”
     I widen my toothy fake smile. “Better?” Maybe I should give my mom what she wants tonight, the dutiful daughter who is thrilled to wear gold jewelry and high heels and wants to be a doctor. But the high heels alone are so uncomfortable I can only imagine how painful the rest of the act would be.
      “I guess a little happiness is too much to ask of my only daughter.”
     Dad’s chuckling, head down. At least someone is amused by my mother’s melodrama.
     We step through an arc of red carnations and orange-yellow marigolds to a blur of jewel-toned silk saris and sparkly fairy lights strung in lazy zigzags across the walls. The Bollywood-ized suburban wedding hall feels pretty cinematic, yet the thought of the awkward social situations to come makes me turn back and look longingly at the doors.
     But there is no escape.
The tinkling of her silver-belled anklets signal the not-to-be-missed approach of Yasmeen, who addresses my mother with the honorific “auntie,” the title accorded all mom-aged Indian women, relation or not. “As-salaam-alaikum, Sofia Auntie!”
     Yasmeen is only two years older than me; in my mom’s eyes, we should be BFFs. Our parents have known each other since their old Hyderabad days, and my mom has been trying to make a friendship happen since Yasmeen’s family moved to the States several years ago. But in real life, we’re a dud of a match. Also, she’s an annoying kiss-ass.
     But the girl’s got style. Yasmeen is dressed to snare the attention of a suitable young gentleman. Preferably more than one, because a girl needs options. Her peacock-colored lehanga that sweeps the floor, her arms full of sparkling bangles, her emerald-and-pearl choker, and the killer kajal that lines her eyelids make her the perfect candy-colored Bollywood poster girl.
      “Asif Uncle! How are you? Mummy will be so excited to see you both. Maya Aziz, look at you. You’re adorable. That shade of pink really suits you. You should wear Indian clothes more often, you know?”
     I don’t even try to hide it when I roll my eyes. “You’ve seen me wear Indian clothes a million times.”
      “Come on, Ayesha is getting ready in the bridal room.”
     My mom winks her blessing at Yasmeen. “Take her, beta, and show her how to be at least a little Indian.” So much for family solidarity.
     Yasmeen wraps my wrist in a death grip and drags me through the lobby to the tune of “Ek Ladki ko Dekha,” an old Bollywood love song that inspired millions of tears.
     Everyone seems happy to be here, except me.
     It’s not just that I hate weddings, which I do. But also because it’s Ayesha. I’ve known her most of my life. She’s five years older than me, and in middle school I was in awe of her. The arsenal of lipsticks in her purse and her ability to deploy them perfectly was the kind of social prowess I dreamed of. I never imagined her succumbing to an arranged marriage, especially not right out of college. Even if it was a modified arrangement that involved three months of clandestine dating.
     Yasmeen leaves me at the door when she spots her mom summoning her to meet another auntie. And the auntie’s son. Sweet relief.
     When I step into the bridal prep room, I stop short.
     Ayesha is the living embodiment of an old-school Hollywood halo filter. It’s breathtaking. I take a moment to absorb the sight: my bejeweled friend in her intricate ghagra choli—a ball skirt and short blouse of cherry-colored silk embroidered with gold threads and encrusted with tiny beads and pearls.
      “Ayesha, you’re stunning.”
      “Thank you, love.”
     I’ve seen Ayesha smile a million times, but I’ve never seen her smile like this, like she invented the concept of joy.
      “I-I have a surprise,” I announce, stammering. I remove my camcorder from my bag and hold it up like a trophy. “I’m shooting a movie of your wedding . . .”
     Before Ayesha can respond (or protest), the door swings open. Her mother, Shahnaz Auntie, triumphantly arrives with the bridal party in tow. They are ready to take their positions. And only an hour behind schedule, which is basically on time for an Indian wedding.
      “See you out there,” I murmur.
     I blow Ayesha a kiss and walk backward, filming the preprocessional scramble. I take a tracking shot into the wedding hall, aglow with thousands of candles, red-and-orange bouquets bursting from the center of tables. I follow the gold organza that drapes the ceiling and trails the flower-strewn aisle leading to the mandap—the traditional wedding canopy under which the vows will take place.
     My mother sees me. Too late for me to hide, even with my camera in hand. She beckons me over to her table, not with a subtle head tilt or single finger hook, but with a full arm wave, drawing the entire room’s attention. She’s chatting with another middle-aged, sari-clad woman. And a boy—I’m guessing her teenage son.
     But my aunt Hina is also at our table. Salvation.
     It’s hard to believe she is my mother’s sister. Hina is ten years younger than Mom, has short hair, a zillion funky pairs of eyeglasses, is this amazing graphic designer and cool in ways I can only aspire to. The weird thing is, you’d think my mom wouldn’t get along with Hina, but they have this unbreakable bond.
     My mom is still waving madly at me. I steel myself, lower my camera, and walk over.
      “As-salaam-alaikum, everyone,” I say and bend to kiss Hina on the cheek.
      “Maya, this is Salma Auntie.” My mom takes me by the elbow to draw me nearer, then raises her voice. “And this is her son, Kareem.”
     Did I mention that subtlety is not my mother’s strong suit?
     I glance over at my dad, deeply involved in a conversation with Kareem’s dad—no doubt about the economy, lawn-mowing equipment, or the trend of teeth whitening at the dental practice he runs with my mom.
      “Maya, Kareem is a sophomore at Princeton,” my mother says, “studying engineering.” I can practically see the cartoon light bulb over her head as she speaks.
      “How’s it going?” Kareem asks. He scans the room, disinterested. Not that I can totally blame him; no doubt he gets my mother’s message loud and clear. He sports a goatee that I assume is meant to make his boyish face look older or tougher. It does neither. On the other hand, it succeeds at drawing my attention to his rather gorgeously full lips. He has a nice mouth in spite of whatever might come out of it.
     My defenses are up. “It’s going fine.” I cross my arms. “Did you fly in for the wedding?”
      “My mom asked me to come. I took a long weekend.” Kareem’s wandering eyes finally meet my own. His are brown, like mine, like most Indians’, but so dark that the pupil almost completely fades into the iris. They’re liquid and beckoning. And his lips. There is no denying that Violet would label them delish.
      “Kareem, Maya will attend University of Chicago next year.”
     This from his mother, whom I’ve never met. But I understand her attempt to draw out the conversation.
      “I got in, but I haven’t decided yet,” I correct.
     Inside, I’m squirming. Nobody here but Hina knows my secret. I’ve applied to NYU and been accepted. NYU is my dream school. I’m not going to the University of Chicago if I can help it. The mere fact that I’ve pulled off this feat—under the radar, in spite of the ever-present gaze of my parents—represents a tiny victory, one that fills me with both hope and guilt. My stomach churns every time I get close to telling them. Especially my mother.
     But I have to tell them. And soon. This secret has an expiration date. How, though? How can I tell my mother that I don’t want to go to a great school—one that’s an easy commute from home, but also from endless family obligations and her constant hovering?
      “Decide? What’s to decide?” my mom demands, as if reading my thoughts. “You’ve gotten into one of the best schools in the country. It’s decided.”
     Sitar music fills the lapse in conversation.
      “Maya, I saved you a chair next to me,” Hina offers.
      “Thanks,” I whisper. I sit and squeeze her hand under the table.
      “No problem.” She leans close, lowering her voice. “Cute guy, by the way—”
      “Shh.” Now I’m full-on blushing, afraid Kareem, or worse, his mother, will overhear.
     The sitar music fades into a remix of a forever classic, “Chaiyya Chaiyya.” It booms from the speakers. 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.
     Ten guys, the groom’s friends and family, led by a man playing the dhol, an Indian drum, begin to dance their way to the mandap. The music slows while the groom walks down the aisle with his parents. Rose and jasmine garlands encircle the groom’s neck.
     Ayesha’s cousins and friends follow in an array of colorful saris. Each one cups a glass lotus-shaped votive—their faces radiant above the candlelight. I zoom in to catch the dramatic effect. Finally, Ayesha and her parents appear at the door. The music slows, and a bright Urdu love song takes over from the sonorous dhol. The guests rise. As Ayesha enters the room, a wave of aaahs and camera flashes precede her down the aisle. She floats toward her groom. Shahnaz Auntie, the bride’s mother, looks grim, probably worried about her daughter’s reaction to the wedding night.
     Note to Shahnaz Auntie: Ayesha is not going to be shocked.
     The cleric begins with a prayer in Urdu, translating everything into English for the many non-Urdu speakers. I catch my parents looking at each other affectionately. I can’t turn away fast enough.
     The vows are simple, the same kind of pledges I’ve heard at weddings of every faith. Except at the end, there is no kiss. I close in for the money shot anyway, hoping for a moment of rebellion from Ayesha and Saleem. But no. No public kissing allowed. Full stop. The no kissing is anticlimactic, but some taboos cross oceans, packed tightly into the corners of immigrant baggage, tucked away with packets of masala and memories of home.

Awards

  • NOMINEE
    Carnegie Medal

Praise

A New York Times Bestseller
A Seventeen Magazine Best YA Book of 2018
An ABA "Indies Introduce" Selection for Winter/Spring 2018
An ABA IndieNext "Top Pick"
A Paste Best YA of the Decade
A Spring 2018 Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers Selection 
A Kobo Winter eBook Indie Pick
YALSA 2019 Best Fiction for Young Adults Nominee
A Seventeen Magazine Top 22 Young Adult Book of 2018
A Society of Midland Authors Literary Award Winner in Children's Fiction
A Goodreads Choice Award Semifinalist 2018 
A 2019 Illinois Reads Selection
A Reading Group Choices Favorite Young Adult Book of 2018
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2018
A Bustle Best Young Adult Book of 2018

A 2018 Shimmy Awards Semi-Finalist
A School Library Journal Top 10 Audiobook of 2018
A Buzzfeed Best Book of 2018
A 2019 TAYSHAS List Selection

BookPeople's Teen Press Corps Top 18 Books of 2018

Praise for Love, Hate and Other Filters


​"​Intensely readable."
—The Guardian

“Heartfelt . . . Ahmed deftly and incisively explores the complicated spaces between 'American and Indian and Muslim' in modern America.”
Teen Vogue

"For those of you who sometimes wish your parents would just let you run your own life, let Love, Hate & Other Filters be your savior."
—Seventeen Magazine

Love, Hate, & Other Filters is a compulsively readable, totally adorable coming-of-age rom-com with a serious, and timely, side.”
—Cosmopolitan

"[An] incredible debut novel." 
—Elle

"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." 
—Buzzfeed

​"​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.​" 
—HuffPost

“The perfect mix of romance and personal reflection.” 
—HerCampus​

"Books can teach you a lot about people, places and cultures; Love, Hate & Other Filters is one of those books. This book is relatable to anyone that has ever felt as if they don’t fit in or anyone who wants to learn to stop the hate . . . Love, Hate & Other Filters is 2018's most important YA novel."
—Christian Science Monitor

​“This smart, heartbreaking, honest debut novel is as timely as it is hopeful. Ahmed tackles weighty issues with thoughtfulness and flair. I was completely swept away.”
—Sandhya Menon, New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi

“Love, Hate & Other Filters heralds a dazzling new talent. Samira Ahmed creates a masterful alchemy of heart, humor, profundity, poetry, romance, and humanity. Through the eyes of the richly drawn Maya Aziz, we get a powerful, timely-yet-timeless, and poignant story about the delicate dance of coming of age in two cultures.”
—Jeff Zentner, William C. Morris award winner of The Serpent King

“A heartbreakingly beautiful debut that weaves together the rush of new love, the shock of old hatred, the pressure of protective parents and the culture clash between generations—in other words, a cinematic glimpse into one experience of growing up Muslim in modern America.”
—Heidi Heilig, author of The Girl from Everywhere and The Ship Beyond Time

“Love, Hate & Other Filters
made me laugh and made me cry. Maya Aziz is a teen everyone needs to know. Her story—an exploration of the unique challenges Muslim Americans face as she pursues her dreams, falls in love, and finds her place within her family and her faith—is one that will stay with me forever. A much-needed addition to the young adult canon.”
—Aisha Saeed, author of Written in the Stars

“Love, Hate & Other Filters hit so close to home, it sometimes hurt to read. I laughed at Maya's wry observations and wept at her profound ones; this book is a searing, honest portrait of what it really means to be a Muslim American teen loyal to two cultures and figuring out how to carve out a space of her own in between.”
—Sarvenaz Tash, author of The Geek's Guide to Unrequited Love

“Love, Hate & Other Filters shines with heart and hope in the face of prejudice. Samira Ahmed is a bright new star in the YA firmament.”
—Marieke Nijkamp, New York Times bestselling author of This Is Where It Ends
 
"[A] brilliant, heartbreaking, empowering debut."
—Supriya Kelkar, author of Ahimsa
 
“A deeply moving YA debut.”
—Elite Daily ​

"A fantastic book."
—WAMC, The Roundtable

"A raw look at the cultural realities of violence and prejudice as well as the coming of age of a young woman . . . [Samira Ahmed] is someone to watch."
KRCB's A Novel Idea

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

"​A breathtaking debut by an #OwnVoices author​."
—BookRiot

“This sweet, honest, charming debut skillfully balances joy and pain, loyalty and independence, humor and heartbreak, and establishes Ahmed as a definite author to watch.” 
—Barnes & Noble Teen Blog ​

"If you're looking for a contemporary romance that doesn't shy away from the true experiences of the modern teen—prejudice, discrimination, violence, political unrest—this #OwnVoices book is perfect for you."
—Bustle

“Love, Hate & Other Filters
offers a bit of solace to teenagers growing up in a tense political climate.​”
—HelloGiggles

"A promising debut novel . . . [Maya's] story of family expectations and her dreams is bound to strike a chord with almost every South Asian American."
—The American Bazaar

​“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


“​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.​”
​—Booklist, 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.”
—​School Library Journal, Starred Review

“Extremely timely. Reminiscent of Born Confused by Tanuja Desai Hidier, Love, Hate & Other Filters brings an authentic new voice to Muslim-American literature for young adults.”
BookPage, Top Teen Pick for January ​

​“The core relationships are authentic and memorable, and the conclusion is satisfying. A well-crafted plot with interesting revelations about living as a second-generation Muslim-American teen in today’s climate." 
—Kirkus Reviews

“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.”
—VOYA​

“[Love, Hate & Other Filters] starts out as a pitch-perfect romantic contemporary, then turns everything upside down when Maya must confront Islamophobia, try to find a balance between her cultures and stand up for her dreams. A must read for fans of Adam Silvera, Angie Thomas and Jenny Han.”
—Justine Magazine

“​Ahmed brings glorious life to Maya’s story, providing cultural details that are relatable to many whether from Maya’s specific background or not​. ​Readers will appreciate Maya’s passionate pursuit of her dream and her journey to embrace and respect her cultures while remaining true to herself.”
—The Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books ​

“Samira Ahmed’s debut thoughtfully explores life in America through the eyes of a child of immigrants, the far-reaching effects of racism and religious intolerance, and the challenges of balancing personal dreams and parental expectations."
—​Bookish​

​“A​n unforgettable debut novel  ​. . . beautifully written.”
—Bitch Media​

"A coming-of-age story ripped from the headlines full of pop culture references, sweet romance, and a powerful message about what it means to be a young American (no matter the hyphens) in a climate of nationalism and fear, Love, Hate and Other Filters is a perfect choice for book clubs seeking to share relatable, relevant titles that spark discussion, or #ownvoices additions to school and library collections."
—Nerdy Book Club

“Ahmed has written a book that will sucker punch you with emotions—much like teen life it is cute one minute and raw the next. It is a masterpiece.”
—Rachel Strolle, Anderson’s Bookshop Naperville, IL

“A compelling balance of relationship woes, family drama, and racial violence. I really appreciate how this book doesn’t pull punches about the reality of being a Muslim teen in the US today, but also gives the protagonist a creative passion, cute boys, and a positive ending. An excellent read.”
—Cecilia Cackley, East City Bookshop

Love, Hate and Other Filters has everything you want in a realistic YA novel: characters that come fully to life; a mix of humor, horror, and romance that add up to the normal high school experience; a protagonist who grows and changes through it all. But in this case she’s a Muslim-American and there are terrifying events unfolding in the background that will affect her and her family in a number of ways. This is irresistible, page-turning fiction wrapped around a core that’s smart, serious, and thought-provoking.”
—Christie Olson Day, Gallery Bookshop

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