A review by Tobi Yusuf
I first came across this book on social media when it came out last year, and I immediately thought that this book may be victim to having negative Islamic tropes in literature. I hate reading about the same thing in muslim stories, whichinvolve hijabis taking their hijab off for a white boy, muslim women leaving their religion, and many others that highlight the dislike of Islam. Although these stories are important and have a place, there should be room for other types of Muslim experiences and representation in the media. I put this book on hold until I saw it recently when my library reopened and I decided to give it a try; I loved it.
This book is a marvel.
Not only does this book have nerdy references (Harry Potter, Avatar the Last Air-bender, League of Legends, and more), it tackles a lot of issues such as cultural appropriation, Islamophobia, animal mistreatment, chronic illnesses and more. This book is a love story about two Muslim teens named Zeynab and Adam who both come from diverse backgrounds (they are both biracial and have one parent who is a convert to Islam). Their relationship also do not break the rules of dating in Islam which is contradictory to the negative tropes I explained above.
I mainly love this book because it displays a diverse set of Muslims. Zeynab, who is a hijabi, has a Muslim friend named Ayaan who doesn’t wear hijab but claims that she is more devout than her. This spoke to me a lot because non-hijabis, like me, are often judged as not being Muslim enough even though they pray five times a day, fast, read Qur’an, go to the mosque, etc. The book also displays a lot of Muslim convert representation. This goes to show that there is not only one way to be Muslim and a diverse umma (community) is beautiful. Furthermore, I can relate to the way Adam and Zeynab approach their relationship. They get to know each other without any touching or kissing, something I wish I saw more of in the media.
This is the first book I have read that displayed this much Muslim diversity and breaks some of the negative stereotypes of Muslims in the Media. If you are someone who wants to learn more about what it means to be Muslim, I highly recommend this book.
I won’t spoil further so please read this book!