By: Melanie | September 5, 2013 | (14) Comments

Review: Hate Is Such A Strong Word by Sarah AyoubHate Is Such A Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub
Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release Date: September 1, 2013
Pages: 256
Source: Received in exchange for review
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I hate being invisible.

I hate that I still can′t fight my own battles.

I hate that I can′t keep up with the demands of high school.

Sophie Kazzi is in Year 12 at an all-Lebanese, all-Catholic school where she is invisible, uncool and bored out of her brain. While she′s grown up surrounded by Lebanese friends, Lebanese neighbours and Lebanese shops, she knows there′s more to life than Samboosik and Baklawa, and she desperately wants to find it.

Unfortunately, her father has antiquated ideas about women, curfews and the Lebanese ′way′. Bad news for Sophie, who was hoping to spend Year 12 fitting in and having fun - not babysitting her four younger siblings, or studying for final exams that will land her in an Accounting course she has no interest in.

Just when it looks like Sophie′s year couldn′t get any more complicated, Shehadie Goldsmith arrives at school. With an Australian father and a Lebanese mother, he′s even more of a misfit than Sophie. And with his arrogant, questioning attitude, he also has a way of getting under her skin...

But when simmering cultural tensions erupt in violence, Sophie must make a choice that will threaten her family, friends and the cultural ties that have protected her all her life.

Are her hates and complaints worth it? Or will she let go ... and somehow find her place?

My Review

The same and I are sworn enemies.

Hate: to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest: to hate the enemy; to hate bigotry. Example sentence: I didn’t hate this book but I didn’t love it.

Hate Is Such A Strong Word was a book I heard very little about; but hype doesn’t say everything about a book so with the intriguing synopsis, I dug right in. It’s the last year of high school and Sophie wants to make some changes. Live her life. Yet that can’t happen when she’s living by the strict rules of her very Lebanese family. Curfews, and clear ideas of the Lebanese ‘way’, Sophie’s year isn’t starting on a good foot. Even though she attends a Lebanese school in Australia. She never really fit in. But that’s what she thought until half Lebanese, half Australian, Shehadie Goldsmith arrives. With the recent street fights and common talk about these two cultures, Sophie becomes more and more aware about the messages that are being addressed.

My first impression on Sophie was her being a completely naive and stereotyped teenage girl. I was wrong. There clearly were jarring character flaws from the beginning, however that’s what made Hate Is Such A Strong word a story worth telling and reading. Her overreacting charisma and constant complaints were irritating but I appreciated her fortitude and eagerness for ‘new’. Then we have Shehadie; moody, arrogant but always sticking to his word. I wasn’t necessarily charmed by him but his characteristics were likable enough. But what I’d like to point out is that the cliche level in Hate Is Such A Strong Word was rather… mild. Not completely noticeable but some characters, such as Dora (who reminded me particularly of Tina from Confessions of an Angry Girl) were so trite I wanted to rip my eyeballs out.

Talking about hackneyed, the romance wasn’t exactly the best. A predictable aspect which was sweet but the way it grew was with plenty of commonly seen misunderstandings. I mean, this is getting old. Other than the bumps in the relationship, the dialogue was always a joy to read, Shehadie’s narrative kept a smile on my face the whole time.

I don’t think Hate Is Such A Strong Word is simply centred on only a love story from a mixed collection of ethnic backgrounds. Themes such as bullying, culture, self-esteem and ‘sameness’ is thoroughly discussed as well as showing readers an example of a tightly grown tension spreading across a family. I wasn’t a fan of Sophie’s parents, they were over protective and always hovering over Sophie’s shoulder but Sarah Ayoub certainly has her ways to fix that.

While there were some weak points, this novel addresses many important themes that all teens should be aware of.

 ~Thank you HarperCollins Australia for sending me this copy!~

3 Stars
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Melanie

Owner (and crazy nut) at YA Midnight Reads
Melanie is one of the totally fabulous bloggers at YA Midnight Reads. She's a 16 year old student from Melbourne, Australia. She is normally found binge watching TV series, reading , blogging, procrastinating or fangirling about how Percabeth is the best ship ever. She's also a lover of caps lock and uses it excessively.

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14 Responses to Review: Hate Is Such A Strong Word by Sarah Ayoub

  1. Kyla says:

    Fantastic review! I love books that have depth in it so I may give this a try when I can get my hands on a copy. Shehadie is a very interesting name…

  2. Jasprit says:

    I’m sorry that you weren’t able to enjoy this as much as you’d hoped Melanie, but I do get the parts that let you down, things which are way over-done tend to bug me a lot too. But despite some of the issues, like you mentioned it does sound like this book has a lot of wonderful things to offer. Lovely review!
    Jasprit recently posted…Review: The First Affair by Emma McLaughlin & Nicola KrausMy Profile

  3. Nara says:

    I’ve never heard of the name “Shehadie” before. For some reason it seems to me like a girl’s name (maybe because it’s similar to Sadie?)
    The book seems a tad cliched, and doesn’t really sound like the type of contemporaries that I like, so I probably won’t buy it. Maybe borrow it from the library or something later 🙂
    Nara recently posted…Review: Chasing the Valley by Skye Melki-WegnerMy Profile

  4. Estelle says:

    This book has been on my radar for a while and I actually attended the book launch in Sydney last week! As much as I try to read Australian fiction as much as I can, the blurb/description did not really appeal to me however I’ll eventually read this one day, most likely from the library.
    I’m a sucker for Aussie contemporary fics that uses slang and terms that I’m actually familiar with or once (I flicked through this book in a bookshop and for some reason I left out a sigh of relief every time I see the word “formal” instead of the american “prom”… or perhaps that’s just me)
    I find having a Lebanese main character is quite interesting and refreshing in the similarly The First Third is centered around the protagonist’s Greek family (I think).

    Anyway, great review 🙂
    Estelle recently posted…Review: The Sweetest Dark by Shana AbéMy Profile

  5. Megan says:

    Hmm. This one sounds like it would be interesting for the cultural themes at least.
    Megan recently posted…Review: Gideon Smith and the Mechanical GirlMy Profile

  6. Laureen says:

    Fantastic review. This sounds like one of those books I will have to find and read to really understand, but it does seem like it would be interesting. Thanks for sharing.
    Laureen recently posted…Green Lantern: Rise of the Third ArmyMy Profile

  7. I hadn’t heard of this one. I like books that take place in other countries, but sorry this didn’t exactly do it for you. Seems like the romance could have been a bit better.
    ShootingStarsMag recently posted…Amy and Roger’s Epic Detour + Music PickMy Profile

  8. Giselle says:

    Huh, weird that I’ve never heard of this book before. It sounds like a great read too with important themes and well developed character. And ugh so often I find myself despising parents in YA books. They’re either too cold or too overbearing and it just annoys me. But if they’re completely missing from the book then I’m like WTF. So really it’s hard to please me with parents haha. Great review, doll!
    Giselle recently posted…Book Girls Don’t Cry: My Favorite VillainsMy Profile

  9. Happy happy birthday! Today’s you’re special day! Now wish for some more ice cream, and blow the flames away, hey!

    But onto your actual review, I hate when you can’t hate but you can’t LOVE a book. The themes addressed sound really important and worthwhile, but I’m unsure of what to think about Dora and the overall cliche level of the book. But I’m glad that Sophie and Shehadle were pretty good characters. And while the romance was kind of off, I’m glad you enjoyed the dialogue at least 🙂

    Fantastic review, Melanie! <333
    Eileen @ Singing and Reading in the Rain recently posted…Random Talk Time (6): Time ManagementMy Profile

  10. Candace says:

    I recently saw another review for this one, which was slightly more positive sounding, but I think it sounds pretty interesting. I like that she’s from a Lebanese family, I love learning about other customs and ways. I’m sorry it just didn’t wow you though. Since I’m assuming this is an Aussie book only (for now) I probably won’t be getting it, but it’s one I’ll keep in mind in case it ever releases here.
    Candace recently posted…Tour Sign Ups: Dead Dreams by Emma Right (Nov. 4-15) YA Psychological Mystery/ThrillerMy Profile

  11. Annie says:

    Hmm, I loved the synopsis of this one, so it’s disappointing to read that the story wasn’t quite your thing. I think I’ll have to look out for a few more opinions before I definitely forget about this one (it did just sound so good!) though. 🙂 Cool review, hope you like your next read more!

  12. Stephanie B says:

    Huh. Sounds a little iffy. Great review!

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