A marvel: something you find amazing. Even ordinary-amazing. Like potatoes—because they make French fries happen. Like the perfect fries Adam and his mom used to make together.
An oddity: whatever gives you pause. Like the fact that there are hateful people in the world. Like Zayneb’s teacher, who won’t stop reminding the class how “bad” Muslims are.
But Zayneb, the only Muslim in class, isn’t bad. She’s angry.
When she gets suspended for confronting her teacher, and he begins investigating her activist friends, Zayneb heads to her aunt’s house in Doha, Qatar, for an early start to spring break.
Fueled by the guilt of getting her friends in trouble, she resolves to try out a newer, “nicer” version of herself in a place where no one knows her.
Then her path crosses with Adam’s.
Since he got diagnosed with multiple sclerosis in November, Adam’s stopped going to classes, intent, instead, on perfecting the making of things. Intent on keeping the memory of his mom alive for his little sister.
Adam’s also intent on keeping his diagnosis a secret from his grieving father.
Alone, Adam and Zayneb are playing roles for others, keeping their real thoughts locked away in their journals.
Maybe that’s what living is—recognizing the marvels and oddities around you.
Love From A to Z is a wonderful story of family, grief, religion, activism, and first love. It’s complex and nuanced, covering a lot of content with respect and honesty and shining light on the insidiousness of prejudice.
She was alive with passions, so alive that they exploded out of her, plain to see, loud and proud, not hidden.
I appreciate that Adam and Zayneb had a lot of common ground but came from very different backgrounds. They bring their own perspective to complicated topics, which sometimes can be a source of conflict, and at other times can bring enlightenment and understanding. Adam is much more reserved – a calm presence, very slow to anger. Zayneb is very reactive and explosive – quick to speak up or fight back. They learn a lot from each other – not to become more like each other, but how to understand and hold space for one another’s emotions.
While the romance in Love From A to Z is the main focus, it’s certainly not the only thing happening. Adam and Zayneb deal with loss, illness, and Islamophobia – all addressed realistically and honestly. It still surprises me how much actually happens within the short time this narrative covers. I think this could be an enlightening story for those not regularly exposed to discrimination or those who may be unaware of what is going on around them.