Excerpt from Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Love, Hate and Other Filters

by Samira Ahmed

Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed X
Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
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  • First Published:
    Jan 2018, 288 pages
    Paperback:
    Jan 2019, 312 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Norah Piehl
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CHAPTER 1

Destiny sucks.

Sure, it can be all heart bursting and undeniable and Bollywood dance numbers and meet me at the Empire State Building. Except when someone else wants to decide who I'm going to sleep with for the rest of my life. Then destiny is a bloodsucker, and not the swoony, sparkly vampire kind.

The night is beautiful, clear and bright with silvery stars. But I'm walking across a noxious parking lot with my parents toward a wedding where a well-meaning auntie will certainly pinch my cheeks like I'm two years old, and a kindly uncle will corner me about my college plans with the inevitable question: premed or prelaw? In other words, it's time for me to wear a beauty-pageant smile while keeping a very stiff upper lip. It would be helpful if I could grow a thicker skin, too—armor, perhaps—but we're almost at the door.

My purse vibrates. I dig around for my phone. A text from Violet: You should be here!

Another buzz, and a picture of Violet appears, decorated in streamers, dancing in the gym. Jeans skinny, lips glossed. Everyone is at MORP without me. It's bad enough I can't go to the actual prom, but missing MORP, too, is death by paper cuts. MORP is the informal prom send-up where everyone goes stag and dances their faces off. And there are always new couples emerging from the dark corners of the gym.

I miss all the drama, as usual.

"Maya, what's wrong?" My mother eyes me with suspicion, as always. I only wish I could muster up the courage to actually warrant any of her distrust.

"Nothing." I sigh.

"Then why do you look like you're going to a funeral instead of your friend's wedding?"

I widen my toothy fake smile. "Better?" Maybe I should give my mom what she wants tonight, the dutiful daughter who is thrilled to wear gold jewelry and high heels and wants to be a doctor. But the high heels alone are so uncomfortable I can only imagine how painful the rest of the act would be.

"I guess a little happiness is too much to ask of my only daughter."

Dad's chuckling, head down. At least someone is amused by my mother's melodrama.

We step through an arc of red carnations and orange-yellow marigolds to a blur of jewel-toned silk saris and sparkly fairy lights strung in lazy zigzags across the walls. The Bollywood-ized suburban wedding hall feels pretty cinematic, yet the thought of the awkward social situations to come makes me turn back and look longingly at the doors.

But there is no escape.

The tinkling of her silver-belled anklets signal the not-to-bemissed approach of Yasmeen, who addresses my mother with the honorific "auntie," the title accorded all mom-aged Indian women, relation or not. "As-salaam-alaikum, Sofia Auntie!"

Yasmeen is only two years older than me; in my mom's eyes, we should be BFFs. Our parents have known each other since their old Hyderabad days, and my mom has been trying to make a friendship happen since Yasmeen's family moved to the States several years ago. But in real life, we're a dud of a match. Also, she's an annoying kiss-ass.

But the girl's got style. Yasmeen is dressed to snare the attention of a suitable young gentleman. Preferably more than one, because a girl needs options. Her peacock-colored lehenga that sweeps the floor, her arms full of sparkling bangles, her emerald-and-pearl choker, and the killer kajal that lines her eyelids make her the perfect candy-colored Bollywood poster girl.

"Asif Uncle! How are you? Mummy will be so excited to see you both. Maya Aziz, look at you. You're adorable. That shade of pink really suits you. You should wear Indian clothes more often, you know?"

I don't even try to hide it when I roll my eyes. "You've seen me wear Indian clothes a million times."

Excerpted from Love, Hate and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed. Copyright © 2018 by Samira Ahmed. Excerpted by permission of Soho Press. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.

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