Love from A to Z – and I loved everything between.
5 stars (honestly if Goodreads would let me I’d give it more) This review contains spoilers!
I bought this book after seeing the blurb on twitter and it’s been sitting in my tbr pile for ages. Not only is it #ownvoices rep for Muslim teens it’s also got an amazing disability rep in the character of Adam.
One of the reasons it stayed on my tbr pile for so long is that I didn’t feel ready to read a fictionalised account of someone struggling with a Multiple Sclerosis diagnosis. But after getting out of hospital I’m not allowed back up the stairs for a while so I got my mum to bring down a pile of books for me to read, including this one. I figured if it became too hard to read it I could stop (although I find it so hard to not finish a book – even if I hate it)
But I finished this book in one day – I fell in love with it.
First off, I have to say I absolutely adore epistolary novels – anything written in the form of a diary or found document. When I bought the book, I didn’t know it was going to be this format so I was so happily surprised to open the book and find out.
I loved that there were author note disclaimers to make it more real – these diaries are real things, these people, Adam and Zayneb, are all real people. I’ve kept a diary on and off my whole life and the idea of a marvels and oddities journal was brilliant.
I saw myself not only in Adam with his reaction to his first major relapse but in his stubbornness and creativity. I loved his passion at trying to make everything, see everything, do everything while he still could.
MS is such a horrible and wholly unpredictable disease that I could understand his need to do as much as he could, as soon as he could – because with this illness you never know what tomorrow will bring.
I saw myself in Zayneb with her passion and fire, her anger at all the injustices surrounding her. With MS limiting my mobility (and honestly affecting my confidence) I feel her rage and inability to do anything to change things; of being stuck with all the anger and no clear path.
While this is ultimately a love story I have to say I fell in love with Hanna too. Her excitement and optimism was infectious, her love for Adam and her dad was wonderful – it was a lovely touch to have her be so protective of Adam after she finds out about his diagnosis, checking on him constantly.
I have to admit that I don’t really know much about Muslim culture – especially when it comes to friends and romantic relationships. So it was fascinating to learn about that through reading this book. I wasn’t surprised but I was angered and saddened to find that the examples of islamophobia in the book were based on real examples that the author or her family have faced.
I was worried going into this read, and at times it was upsetting and really hard to read; as I followed Adam with his new symptoms – many of which were so like my own but I’m so, so glad I read it. I’m so happy that there is such a fantastic disability rep. I’ve been trying hard to find YA books with disabled protagonists that aren’t just there as inspiration porn so this was wonderful.
Ultimately the thing I loved most was Adam’s hope and optimism. While I’m still coming to terms with my own diagnosis I want to bring that optimism into my life and keep pushing forward, as much as Adam does.
I now know I’m going to go buy S.K. Ali’s other book Saints and Misfits. She is a wonderful author who brought such brilliant characters to life.
I did absolutely love this book and it deserves so much more than 5 stars.