I love a good coming of age story. I love a book that discusses current issues and shows them from a different perspective. I love a female protagonist with dreams and vision and a whole lot of Girl power. This book is supposed to be all of the above. This book however... I did NOT love.
I really thought that I would love this book but I think it is meant for a much younger audience... maybe? Putting aside all of my other issues with this book ( like how I thought Maya read more like a 15 year old than a 17 year old or the fact that I found her love interest boring), Islamophobia is a very real issue in our society and I thought that this book was really going to tackle it in a different way and open some eyes. It... kinda... did but it didn't do it as well as I had hoped. It falls short in so many ways.
This is a quick rant explaining those reasons. Oh and just FYI: Writing this without any spoilers was a struggle!
First, there is Maya:
Maya is an Indian Muslim girl but... we wouldn't know if it wasn't for the writer constantly reminding us of it. There is no mention of her praying, she talks about her religion exactly once to her parents and makes a really distasteful joke about it on a date once. Amidst all the hate, she doesn't really defend her religion, not even once- instead, she almost seems to be distancing herself from it.
I suppose that there is a certain group of people who can identify with that.
I know that Islamophobia affects more than just practicing Muslims but I guess that considering the summary of the book, I was expecting Maya's struggle to be one of her trying to reconcile her "Americanness" with her Indian heritage and her Beliefs as a Muslim. Instead of that, I felt like she was trying to find a way to discard the Indian, Muslim part of her and embrace the American part without hurting her parent's feelings.
Then there is the romance:
I can't go into detail without spoilers but the truth here is that I knew there would be romance. I knew there was a romantic subplot and I was ready for some cute stuff. I usually like cute stuff but OH MY GOD, there are too many pages in this book that are filled with nothing but Insta-love descriptions. It takes over the whole book. Almost everything has to do with her love interests and when it's not, it's being compared to an old romantic movie.... it's so annoying.
Lastly, there is the terrorist attack.
I like the way the attack is almost played throughout the book and I like the way that the narrative was changed but then... in the end, the book- like the media often does- almost throws a pity party for the terrorist by telling us about his childhood and all the things that he had to endure while growing up... I don't know if the author was trying to show that his hate built over time, I think that's what it was but the way that it's done is just.... off-putting.
So, there you have it. Those are my thoughts. Have you read this book? What were your thoughts?