“Maybe that’s what living is—recognizing the marvels and oddities around you.” Love From A To Z- S.K Ali
I instantly fell in love upon reading S. K Ali’s YA novel, Love From A To Z for the first time. This novel is not only awe-inspiring and captivating but hits very close to home for me. Love From A to Z delves into the marvels and oddities of its two protagonists Zayneb Malik and Adam Chen, who even though they are complete opposites, find their way towards one another. It all started when Zayneb got expelled from her school due to an unjust incident with her teacher. Little did she know that this oddity would eventually lead to one of the greatest journeys of her entire life. After being expelled, Zayneb travels and it is during one of her connected flights to Doha that she meets Adam Chen, a college student returning home for the holidays. At first, Zayneb along with the readers believe that Adam is one of those people you happen to see in public and find rather attractive, but you will never see again. But as we come to learn, this isn’t the case for these two characters. Since this book is filled with marvels and oddities, I am going to list a couple of marvels that this book holds.
First off, I find the point of view that this novel was written with to be interesting. Throughout the novel, S.K Ali constantly switches perspectives between the two protagonists. Although some people may find this confusing and all over the place at times, I really enjoyed it. I believe the switching of perspectives to be strategic and that it is because it doesn’t make the readers biased in any sense of the way. We are exposed to both characters in different ways. I didn’t prefer Adam over Zayneb, or Zayneb over Adam, because as a reader I was lucky enough to be given an insight into both of their lives. I came to understand both characters and realized that they both had their own mistakes and hidden struggles.
Furthermore, what makes this novel so special and so marvelous are the themes that it explores. From the very start of the novel, S.K Ali warns us, “this is a love story.” And it certainly does live up to this warning. This novel focuses on how two people find love while abiding by the rules of religion and living in the modern world, where nothing is perfect. It also focuses on other forms of love; it explores the love of family, the love of friends, but most importantly the love of religion, something that isn’t usually shown in the media. Additionally, Ali incorporates other various themes that make this story all that more realistic, such as Islamophobia. It also discusses how to deal with it, with grief, and with certain health conditions. It is all of these different factors that make it more unique than your average cliché love triangle YA novel. There is no jock. There is no popular girl. There are no nerds in this story. There are just two ordinary characters, living semi-ordinary lives, dealing with ordinary, real-life problems. Problems a lot of us can personally relate to.
Another great marvel of this story is its characters. As mentioned earlier, Zayneb and Adam are complete polar opposites and yet are so fitting for one another. Zayneb is a Pakistani Muslim hijab wearing teen, who is courageous, outspoken, expressive, and passionate, definitely passionate. She is passionate about her culture, about her religion, and the people in her life. Then there’s Adam, a Canadian whose family had converted to Islam after the loss of a loved one. Adam is a charismatic, soft, gentle, creative, and mature man. So through these character descriptions, it’s pretty obvious that these two single each other out. Throughout the story, Zayneb encourages Adam to be himself and get out of his comfort zone. While Adam teaches Zayneb to be more understanding and not be so quick to judge or react to certain circumstances. He teaches her how to use her anger and incorporate it into her creative work.
The greatest marvel of all is where this story takes place. Have you ever read a book and felt as if you were transported to the place with the characters? With excellent plot building and use of imagery, you can’t help but just fall in love with the setting, in this case, a city, and all of its customs and traditions. That’s how S.K Ali makes you feel in her book, taking the readers on a journey with Zayneb as we discover this beautiful new city. Taking us to visit its malls, its outdoor market, its beautiful nightlife, its beaches, its restaurants. Most importantly, it takes the readers to the place where Zayneb and Adam’s list of Marvels and Oddities were inspired by, which is The Museum of Islamic Art where the manuscript The Marvels of Creations and the Oddities of Existence, is located.
Overall, this book was filled with many marvels for me that I found to be very intriguing. The novel impressed me with how relatable it turned out to be. If they were to ever make a movie about it, I can only hope that S.K Ali has some sort of role if not a massive role in its’ making, and I will definitely be the first person in line to buy a ticket.
10/10 would recommend it.