If you checked out my Library Book Haul last month, you already know I had some pretty high hopes for this one.
I’m trying something a little different with this review, so please let me know what you think. There also may be a few minor spoilers in the later half, be warned.
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.
I liked how well prejudice was shown in the story. After the event transpired, there was a lot of snap judgement and assumptions going on. It felt like things that would actually be said in a situation like this one.
The Indian culture was shown very well, especially through the food, outfits, and customs. I just wish the religion aspect was given that attention, too.
The Author’s Note was fantastic. Literally my favorite part of the book, even though it had nothing to do with the characters, themselves. I love how Samira Ahmed gets personal with why she wrote this book and her own experiences.
Honestly, I struggled getting into this story. There were so many times where I would put the book down and not want to pick it up again. I had to literally force myself to finish it.
Then I realized, it wasn’t the story itself I hated (though it still had it’s problems) my real issue was the writing style. I just didn’t like it. A lot of the language was straight forward and in no way subtle. It felt like I was being told exactly how the main character was feeling and why all the time, instead of just getting the chance to infer.
On that note, I also wasn’t a fan of the main character. Maya Aziz was not my cup of tea. The way she talked to her parents was such a pet peeve for me. They didn’t deserve to be treated that way, after everything they’d sacrificed for her. She came off sounding bratty to me during the first half and a lot of the later parts, basically most of the story.
Even though it was addressed in the epilogue, I just wish she’d had that epiphany a little sooner. Truth be told, I know so many people that talk to their parents this way and don’t realize how good they have it until it’s too late.
The romance didn’t do it for me. Especially considering how she was pining after Phil, despite the fact that he was in a relationship. I’ve never liked that trope in stories, especially YA.
All in All
The premise was great, I just wasn’t a fan of the execution. I think I would’ve liked it a whole lot more if the romance wasn’t such a big part of the story and if Maya was more likeable. This reminded me of the problems I had with Tyler Johnson Was Here.
Even though this wasn’t a book I loved, that shouldn’t keep you from checking it out yourself.