Publisher: HarperCollins Australia
Release Date: September 1, 2013
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?
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!~
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