Harper: The Snakes by Sadie Jones

Love from A to Z

Two Muslim teens, Adam and Zayneb, have each, independently, spent years writing journals inspired by an ancient book called The Marvels of Creation and the Oddities of Existence. In an odd and marvelous case of serendipity, the two meet on their way to Doha, Qatar. Adam, 18, has stopped going to classes at his university in London after receiving a life-changing piece of news. He disengages with the routine he had begun in college and instead hangs out in his dorm room, making things: tiny models, meaningful gifts, intricate creations. Now he's going home to Doha to--maybe--share his news with his sister and his dad, who is still grieving the death of Adam's mother nine years earlier.

Zayneb, also 18, is visiting her aunt in Doha after getting suspended from her Indiana high school for confronting an Islamophobic teacher. Zayneb is determined to become a better version of herself (more "poised and peaceful. Maybe quieter, too"), especially once she meets Adam, who seems to have far more self-control and optimism than she does. She writes in her journal about her frustration and anger at constantly being judged and stereotyped for being a hijabi. If only there was a way to confront injustice that fell between looking the other way or posting "a few words of outrage online" and "mak[ing] someone pay" for the horrors of war and prejudice. Although Zayneb's journal is heavier on the oddities and Adam's on the marvels, together they begin finding a way to live in a world with both.

In Love from A to Z, S.K. Ali (Saints and Misfits) once again takes an unflinching and moving look at the intricacies of life as a Muslim teen in an imperfect, multi-cultural world. Beautiful. --Emilie Coulter, freelance writer and editor