Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Friends with ARCs | Love from A to Z + Hearts Made for Breaking

The first time Adam and Zayneb notice each other is en route to Doha, Qatar. Their paths diverge upon their arrival at their destination, and that would have been the end of things… until they discover they have a mutual acquaintance. Their friendship blossoms organically from that point, but there are things that they keep hidden from each other, things that they will need to find the strength to face on their own first. Like Zayneb’s anger at hateful people like her teacher, and how a confrontation with him led to her suspension. Like Adam’s diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, the illness his mother died from and accordingly, the secret he is now keeping from his father and younger sister. In a life filled with marvels and oddities, will these two teens be able to find their way forward? 

Love from A to Z was the best kind of reading surprise! I went in with no expectations and finished feeling utterly satisfied with how things turned out for Zayneb and Adam. You’d think, based on the synopsis, that there is a ton going on in this story, and perhaps you’d worry that there wouldn’t be enough page time to tackle it all. The truth is that S.K. Ali does a commendable job weaving all the moving parts of this tale together: Zayneb’s anger at the unfair treatment of Muslims (especially at the hands of her teacher), Adam’s grief and fear upon learning about his diagnosis, their complicated relationships with their families and friends, their blossoming friendship and the possibility of more. I found it particularly wonderful that Ali chooses to narrate this tale in a journal style that both characters employ, where they record the marvels and oddities of their lives. While it’s treated as a curated version of their story, using this method made things feel just a bit more personal than they would have felt otherwise – and I really liked that! I genuinely feel like S.K. Ali handled this story with a deft hand (though I can’t speak to the MS or racial rep myself) in all aspects, and I’m so glad that this wound up being such an excellent read.

Did you keep a journal as a kid? I do have journals from my younger years, and I still keep a journal (of sorts) up until today. I used to merely use it as a way to record whatever I did or ate in a day (I was oddly specific about food), but these days, I only write when I'm in the grip of very strong emotional upheavals (in ways both good and bad).

Love from A to Z by S.K. Ali | Publisher: Salaam Reads | Publication Date: April 30, 2019 | Source: e-galley downloaded from NetGalley (Thank you!)


Lark has always played it smart when it comes to high school romance: date boys briefly, let them down gently (or better yet, convince them that they want to break up with her) so you stay friends and then move on. Her best friends Cooper and Katie have had enough with her antic and challenge her to break her pattern by giving herself – or the boy – a chance to really fall in love with her next relationship. Enter Ardy, the mysterious “undateable” new boy in their school, who just might be the guy that breaks Lark’s current dating patterns… 

Based on premise alone, Hearts Made for Breaking had the potential to be a YA romcom that I’d love (especially as someone like me who is a total sap). Unfortunately, even with the easy-to-devour writing and highlights featuring adorable banter or swoony bits, this just didn’t meet my expectations. It was ultimately underdeveloped, specifically in terms of characters. While I didn’t have any issues on the whole with Ardy (who is a delight, honestly, and really was 90% of the reason I kept reading), I just didn’t care overly much for Lark because I felt like I didn’t know her outside of her identity as defined in terms of her relationships. She didn’t come to life off the page and since she’s the main character, this severely impacted my overall enjoyment. I also thought that her best friends weren’t really all that great (especially Katie, who came across as terrible majority of the time), and that some of the secondary plots weren’t handled entirely well (I’m specifically referring to the one about Cooper). All in all, Hearts Made for Breaking was a personally disappointing read. 

What was your favorite high school batch activity that was not prom? I got to do a lot of fun stuff when I was in high school (including a Disney movie play-musical recreation contest, a play based on Greek mythology, hosting for some intercity and national events, our senior tribute), but my favorite event of all has to be the revue we put on in our junior year. My favorite teacher (who I met up with in London last year) was a theater fan, and he came up with the fun idea of getting our entire batch involved in staging a production – just for fun. We had long days of rehearsals (where we were excused from classes), spent hours designing costumes and props and sets and it was so worth it just to have this fun show I can look back on fondly now.

Hearts Made for Breaking by Jen Klein | Publisher: Random House Books for Young Readers | Publication Date: April 30, 2019 | Source: e-galley downloaded from NetGalley (Thank you!)

1 comment

  1. Great reviews! I'm hoping to get to Love From A to Z this week, and this review made me even more excited to pick it up! I used to journal all the time, but now I just keep a small gratitude journal and I write things out when I'm feeling overwhelmed or anxious which it helps me figure out what's causing the feelings.

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