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?
Where Love from A to Z was strictly young adult, Love from Mecca to Media is very much new adult. Not just because of the age of the characters – they’re in their early twenties – but the storyline as well. This is a novel about being grown up but not yet done growing, about the future being something tangible rather than esoteric or distant, about being in a committed relationship rather than falling for someone or hoping for a happily ever after one day.
Adam and Zayneb are what she calls “nikahified”, or united under a marriage contract, although they are not living together (yet?). But their relationship has hit some speedbumps. Both are keeping secrets from each other, secrets they’re finally forced to reckon with when they take a group trip to Medina and Mecca for Umrah. One of the things I love about this series (besides the rich Islamic worldbuilding) is how real Adam and Zayneb are. They’re flawed, messy people who make mistakes but try to learn from them.
If you loved the first book or just want to read a great story about two college-age young adults trying to sort out their lives, this is the book for you.