Maya Aziz is torn between futures: the one her parents expect for their good Indian daughter (i.e.; staying nearby in Chicago and being matched with a “suitable” Muslim boy), and the one where she goes to film school in New York City–and maybe, just maybe, kisses a guy she’s only known from afar. There’s the also the fun stuff, like laughing with her best friend Violet, making on-the-spot documentaries, sneaking away for private swimming lessons at a secret pond in the woods. But her world is shattered when a suicide bomber strikes in the American heartland; by chance, he shares Maya’s last name. What happens to the one Muslim family in town when their community is suddenly consumed with hatred and fear?
This book is a really important own voices read, that tackles a number of really difficult issues in an interesting way. Maya stands on the precipice of her future and there are two options – going to NYU and following her dreams of studying film, or going to a more local University and finding a new suitable boy to marry – the option that her parents want her to take. I thought she was a really fascinating character and I loved her perspectives on life, and her dedication to film. She was strong and determined, she made difficult choices and stuck to her guns even when things were hard.
The book focuses on two key areas – the romance aspect as Maya meets Kareem but also has feelings for classmate Phil, and an in depth look at hate crimes and the rippling effects that one horrific event can have on so many people’s lives. The romance I found a little cheesy and fluffy which is why I didn’t rate it higher, but it’s sweet and adds another layer to this interesting story.
The effects of the terrorist attack by a white supremacist is the part of the story that was most powerful. Although Maya wasn’t involved in the attack, her and her family still feel the effects and are still the victims of hate crimes. I would have loved for the book to dig a bit deeper into this important issue, rather than the focus on the romance between Maya and Phil.
The book is a pretty quick read, I read it almost in one sitting. That being said I think it highlights a lot of problems and issues in society, and is therefore a really important read. It has a really interesting cast of characters, and the story is well paced and interesting. If you like contemporary books with plenty of sweet and light romance, this is definitely a book to pick up.