I met Samira Ahmed last summer at the American Library Association’s annual meeting. Her debut YA novel, Love, Hate, and Other Filters (Soho Teen, 2018) was one of the review copies I picked up at the conference and was the first I read.
It was so much warmer back then! Fast forward six months and today is finally her publication day. I drove out to Anderson’s Bookstore in Naperville, Illinois for her book launch tonight.
She had a full house and talked about the Islamophobia in her book and how her protagonist, Maya, is completely unprepared for it in her Batavia, Illinois high school. Samira also discussed writing about first generation teens. If my kids’ school had YA books, this would be a must-read. But alas, it’s an elementary school and some of the content is a little advanced for 10 year olds. The message is crucial, though.
The questions from the audience were really great, too. Someone asked which part was her favorite to write (the end) and how she names her characters. She replied that she starts her novels with a title in mind and the characters’ names already decided. “It’s like naming your children,” she said. You wouldn’t change your children’s names after they’re ten years old, so it’s the same with her characters’ names.
Even though I had a review copy, I couldn’t not buy a hardcover. It’s so beautiful and every participant received a special card Samira designed.
And check out the back cover!
She’ll be doing events around the country and will be back in Chicago at 57th Street Books on Saturday, February 3rd at 3pm.