July 13, 2019 | Posted by Victoria in Book Reviews, Multi-Reviews | 4 Comments

Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Publication Date: April 30, 2019 by Simon & Schuster
Format: eARC
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
4.5 Stars
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

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.

Until a marvel and an oddity occurs…

Marvel: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

Oddity: Adam and Zayneb meeting.

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Wow this book was amazing, I’m kicking myself for not picking it up sooner! Love From A to Z is told through journal entries between Zayneb and Adam, two teens who keep running into each other while Adam is home from college and Zayneb is visiting family during vacation.

Going in, I knew this story was going to be emotional. Zayneb gets to see family early because she’s suspended for standing up for herself to her Islamophobic teacher, and Adam is dealing with grief because the anniversary of his mother’s death is coming up, as well as trying to figure out how to live with his multiple sclerosis diagnosis. Even though there was a lot going on in the novel, it was handled really well and each topic was explored in depth and given enough attention.

“What riles me is that people think Islamophobia is these little or big acts of violence. Someone getting their hijab ripped off, someone’s business getting vandalized (…) No, there’s the other kind too, and it’s a more prevalent kind: the slow, steady barrage of tiny acts of prejudice, these your-people-are-trash lightsaber cuts that tear and peel strips off your soul until you can’t feel your numbed heart any longer.”

I loved reading both character’s journal entries, but I have to say I loved reading Zayneb’s the most. In the author’s note S.K. Ali said that some of the Islamophobic experiences Zayneb has were taken from her own experiences, and while reading I could tell just how painful these experiences were. I also enjoyed being in Zayneb’s head, and seeing her learn the best way for her to standup for herself and for Muslims.

Zayneb and Adam were such great characters, and I loved getting to see their relationship progress. There was the physical attraction they both experienced when they met for the first time, and then the emotional attraction that grew after spending more and more time together and getting to know each other more. I really enjoyed reading how they were both on the same page about their relationship, and were open to discussing it instead of skirting around the topic and their feelings which I don’t see much of in YA novels. I think the fact that both characters were so mature because they had to grow up pretty quickly because of the circumstances they were in.

“the way that it felt like the space between us folded and folded, and kept folding until the distance shrank, until we made sense to each other.”

Even though this novel definitely dealt with some difficult topics, it was still a fun book to read. Hanna, Adam’s sister, really added some levity to the novel. She was such a cute, fun little sibling that loved rocks as well as her brother. I laughed basically every time Adam or Zayneb wrote about her in their journals.

Publication Date: May 14, 2019 Format: eARC
Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble
5 Stars
Source: Publisher via Netgalley

Rosa Santos is cursed by the sea-at least, that's what they say. Dating her is bad news, especially if you're a boy with a boat.

But Rosa feels more caught than cursed. Caught between cultures and choices. Between her abuela, a beloved healer and pillar of their community, and her mother, an artist who crashes in and out of her life like a hurricane. Between Port Coral, the quirky South Florida town they call home, and Cuba, the island her abuela refuses to talk about.

As her college decision looms, Rosa collides - literally - with Alex Aquino, the mysterious boy with tattoos of the ocean whose family owns the marina. With her heart, her family, and her future on the line, can Rosa break a curse and find her place beyond the horizon?

I received this book for free in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Don’t Date Rosa Santos is the perfect summer read! It’s a YA contemporary that follows Rosa Santos while she’s in her last year old high school, planning for the future, and trying to save her town. This novel had it all, the small town beachy feel, the swoony romantic interest, and awesome family dynamics.

“You’re barely stopping to consider what you want, because your diaspora dream has always been to grow up and stop questioning whether you’re Latina enough or deserving of what Mimi lost.”

I really enjoyed reading about Rosa Santos, and seeing her growth throughout the novel. She’s a third generation Cuban-American, and is dealing with the struggle of learning about where her family came from, and trying to figure out who she is and what she wants in life. She wants to learn so much about her Cuban heritage, but her mother is flighty and isn’t in the picture all the time, and her grandmother refuses to talk about it, since she has so many traumatic experiences from when she was forced to leave the country.

The center of the story focuses on Rosa and her struggle with learning about her family and heritage, but finding love, and trying to save her town are pretty big parts of the story as well. I loved reading about Rosa and Alex’s relationship, and seeing it progress. At first Rosa thinks he’s attractive, but is worried about getting close to him because of the bad luck women in her family tend to have with men with ties to the water. I also really enjoyed reading about how Rosa was leading the charge to put on the festival that would save her small coastal town from developers. This part of the story felt very Gilmore Girls to me, and I smiled the whole time I read about it.

“I met my culture in the food I ate at our table, the songs that played on my abuel’as record player, and the stories that flowed through the bodega and Ana-Maria’s lively home. But I couldn’t find my family in those stories. I couldn’t find me.”

This was such a great book that I didn’t want to put down, but the writing was a little too flowy and flowery for me, and took some getting used to. I also think there were some issues with my ARC with formatting, so the story jumped around a little bit which took me out of the story from time to time. Overall these issues really didn’t affect the rest of the story once I was able to get past them.

I knew this was going to be a fun summery read, but I was surprised at how emotional the story was. I was not expecting some of the events that took place in the novel. I literally had tears streaming down my face while reading.

highly recommend this novel to everyone. It was such an amazing book with great representation, and a great portrayal of family dynamics.

Let me know if you’ve read either of these books or are planning to soon!
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  1. i’m glad you enjoyed these two diverse novels, victoria!
    love from a to z sounds like a beautiful romance story, and i can’t wait to pick it up myself. as for don’t date rosa santos, i rarely see cuban american representation in young adult novels, and i really hope to educate myself on cuban culture through reading it. also, i love that small “the great wave off kanagawa” featured on the book cover!

    chloe @ marshmallow pudding recently posted: book review – kingdom cold by brittni chenelle
    • They were both really great and I’m so glad I read them. I love that YA is becoming more diverse, AND more own voices. I hope you enjoy these when/if you get to them!

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