Love From Mecca to Medina

Love From Mecca to Medina
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Release Date
October 18, 2022
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On the trip of a lifetime, Adam and Zayneb must find their way back to each other in this surprising and romantic sequel to the “bighearted, wildly charming” (Becky Albertalli, New York Times bestselling author) Love from A to Z.

Adam and Zayneb. Perfectly matched. Painfully apart.

Adam is in Doha, Qatar, making a map of the Hijra, a historic migration from Mecca to Medina, and worried about where his next paycheck will come from. Zayneb is in Chicago, where school and extracurricular stresses are piling on top of a terrible frenemy situation, making her miserable.

Then a marvel occurs: Adam and Zayneb get the chance to spend Thanksgiving week on the Umrah, a pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina, in Saudi Arabia. Adam is thrilled; it’s the reboot he needs and an opportunity to pray for a hijra in real life: to migrate to Zayneb in Chicago. Zayneb balks at the trip at first, having envisioned another kind of vacation, but then decides a spiritual reset is calling her name too. And they can’t wait to see each other—surely, this is just what they both need.

But the trip is nothing like what they expect, from the appearance of Adam’s former love interest in their traveling group to the anxiety gripping Zayneb when she’s supposed to be “spiritual.” As one wedge after another drives them apart while they make their way through rites in the holy city, Adam and Zayneb start to wonder: was their meeting just an oddity after all? Or can their love transcend everything else like the greatest marvels of the world?

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Love From Mecca to Medina
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LOVE FROM MECCA TO MEDINA by S.K. Ali is a sophomore novel in the world of Adam and Zayneb, a couple, who after their Nikah, are still living apart. Zayneb is in the US for law school and Adam is in Qatar with his family, focusing on his artistic prospects, or lack thereof. The two are due for a romantic visit in England, but plans change when Adam realizes with his current health, it’d be best to go on Umrah while he still can. Zayneb reluctantly agrees to this change of plans, and what’s supposed to be a long-awaited reunion, becomes fraught with a series of miscommunications. The question becomes: will Adam and Zayneb come out of this trip stronger, or will they realize they’re not as perfect for one another as they thought?

I loved getting to go on this spiritual and physical journey with the characters. Especially with current times, the realizations they come to are good reminders for everyone: we can get through hard things. As mentioned in the book, non-Muslims are forbidden from entering the city of Mecca, which means it’s likely I will never get to visit this place in person, but it was such a treat to be able to do it by proxy. This situation is exactly what makes books so special and vital— they can transport us to places otherwise unreachable. Along the same lines, getting to experience another culture and religion was so refreshing. I wish books like this were mainstream long ago, and I hope the representation brings delight to many, especially people of the Muslim faith.

The structure, however, seemed to get in the way of the book’s flow. I was thrown off by the cat’s POV chapters, particularly because it’s how the book opens. Then, the business with the box and the artifacts also raised a lot of questions, so I started the read confused. When it did transfer to Adam and Zayneb’s POVs, I put too much stock in the artifact headers, because I thought they were important, but when I realized they weren’t crucial to the story, it took a while to catch on to how they were used to designate POV. In turn, that resulted in me not being immediately sure whose chapter I was in for at least half of the book. As a result, the structure slowed the story down for me.

I also at times was frustrated with the characters, particularly Zayneb. I appreciated that the author really let the characters be human, flaws and all, and as a result, the characters felt real, not idealized. However, at the same time, it did seem like the characters often made the situation more difficult than it had to be. In addition, I was surprised that there wasn’t much of a resolution in the end, particularly with Sarina. I thought we’d get a glimpse at her real motives, but when we didn’t, which to be fair is like real life, it did leave me wanting.

All in all, LOVE FROM MECCA TO MEDINA is a sweet, feel-good story that will tug on your heartstrings. Don’t fear if you haven’t read the first novel, this book works perfectly well as a standalone.
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