I received an e-ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
Title: Saints and Misfits
Author: S.K. Ali
Publisher: Salaam Reads / Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: June 13, 2017
Summary (from Goodreads): Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.
How much can you tell about a person just by looking at them?
Janna Yusuf knows a lot of people can’t figure out what to make of her…an Arab Indian-American hijabi teenager who is a Flannery O’Connor obsessed book nerd, aspiring photographer, and sometime graphic novelist is not exactly easy to put into a box.
And Janna suddenly finds herself caring what people think. Or at least what a certain boy named Jeremy thinks. Not that she would ever date him—Muslim girls don’t date. Or they shouldn’t date. Or won’t? Janna is still working all this out.
While her heart might be leading her in one direction, her mind is spinning in others. She is trying to decide what kind of person she wants to be, and what it means to be a saint, a misfit, or a monster. Except she knows a monster…one who happens to be parading around as a saint…Will she be the one to call him out on it? What will people in her tightknit Muslim community think of her then?
Saints and Misfits is a feminist book about a Muslim teen struggling with identity. While I enjoyed the concept and the main character, I found the book’s pacing to be a bit slow. This is an important read, however, and one of very few Muslim YA books that I have seen.
This book is all about the life of a Muslim teen. Janna figures out her own identity while dealing with feelings that slightly go against her religion. She also deals with the recovery process of attempted rape and tries to get the other members of her community to believe that the man is not the saint that they all believe him to be. This is a powerful feminist story that does a great job of explaining Islam in a simple way.
I enjoyed Janna’s character. She is a photographer and a book nerd and is easy to relate to. She is also so sweet and takes care of an old man in her spare time. What I also enjoyed about Janna’s character is the fact that she is so dedicated to her faith. She is sure to follow all the rules to protect both her image and the reputation of her community. Janna’s voice is just so clever and sarcastic, which I love to see in a book.
My main issue with the book is the pacing. The book just seemed to drag on, and I was having trouble focusing on it. I also had no idea that sexual assault would appear in the story, so this is just a heads up to anyone who could be triggered by that. As well, Janna’s family is oblivious to all the hints that Janna was assaulted and the way she acts around her attacker. I didn’t find this very realistic, and I feel like at least one of her friends would have noticed the change in behaviour.
Saints and Misfits is the story of a Muslim teen finding her way through life. I enjoyed the main character and her generous personality, but found the book’s pacing to be too slow for my liking. I would still recommend this book, however, because it tackles some important topics and has some powerful messages.