Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali (352 pages)
“Love From A to Z” Is A Journal Like Narrative Headlined By A Relevant Marvel Or Oddity
People see marvels and oddities every day, but Adam and Zayneb write them down in their own journals. They each got the idea years and continents apart from a book called The Marvels of Creation and the Oddities of Existence. Alternating between Adam and Zayneb’s points-of-view, Love from A to Z is written in a journal-like narrative, each entry headlined by a relevant marvel or oddity. When they meet in Heathrow Airport, Adam notices that Zayneb’s journal is like his own, but fails to point it out until well after they’ve reached their destination of Doha, Qatar.
While this is Adam and Zayneb’s love story, it’s so much more. After being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, the disease that took his mom’s life, Adam’s dropped out of university and returned home to Doha to tell his dad and sister. Zayneb’s a week early to Doha to visit her aunt for spring break because she was suspended from school for threatening her racist teacher (though she actually didn’t). The incident angers Zayneb, who’s passionate about calling out racism and fighting for justice. She’s also working on her calmness—a calmness Adam seems to radiate. They’re drawn to each other naturally, and I was drawn to the ebb and flow of their relationship, watching as they learned more about each other and navigated their feelings of attraction and uncertainty.
Both An Escape and An Educational Experience
Marvel: This novel was both an escape and an educational experience. I read to escape and to learn; usually fiction provides the former and non-fiction the latter. Occasionally, a novel provides both, as this one did. While I’ve heard of Qatar, I’ll admit that before reading this book I couldn’t place it on a map, nor did I know its capital was Doha, a diverse city on the Persian Gulf. By sharing what she experienced not only in her hometown but also in her aunt’s apartment pool in Doha, Zayneb taught me about the everyday racism that Muslim women face. Her experiences (based on true incidents per the author’s note) widened my worldview.
Oddity: That a story with such sadness and a dose of anger can still be hopeful. Stories can be multiple things, but I’m always in awe when I read one that is so many things and does them all well. This precisely-crafted, well-written novel has real human emotion (both good and bad) strung through it, but still radiates hope. And it balances it all pristinely, while also being a powerful call to action.
The Bottom Line: 5/5 Brookie Stars
Love from A to Z is about life after loss, facing an uncertain future, fighting for justice, and finding your voice. It centers on love, and not just the romantic kind, but familial and friend love as well. This novel was both an escape and an experience—it’s YA at its best.
Looking for something new to read? Head over to our Brookstore to see what’s available!
Jamie Mitchell is a writer, library assistant, former bookseller, and all-around lover of the written word. She’s currently working on her fifth novel, and if you’re wondering where the other four are, they’re safe on her laptop and in need of rewriting. She lives in Indianapolis with her husband, and enjoys traveling, bookstagramming and experimenting with gluten-free flours.
Favourite book: Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Favourite brunch spot: 1823 Bakehouse