Read: June 2017
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?
So last month I was anxious to dive into a very highly anticipated book I received as an ARC from a publisher, I read about 20 percent or so … and I didn’t like it at all. I was so disappointed that I then dove into this book, then that book, then another book, and nothing was grabbing me – until I picked up S. K. Ali’s debut novel, Saints and Misfits. Right off the bat, I loved her writing style and didn’t want to stop reading Janna’s story!
I was initially intrigued by this story because I saw it was compared to My So-Called Life, a show from the 90’s that I loved watching. I could definitely see how this compared to that show, but even without the comparison, I was very impressed with this debut. And the nice thing about this book is that I actually learned some things about the Muslim culture – it’s so easy to just take in what other people say, or what you might read in the paper, but to read about a culture from someone who actually lives it, well, frankly, it was eye-opening. And it really made me interested to read more #ownvoices stories not just of the Muslim culture, but of others as well.
My only complaint about this book was that the resolution at the end was a little vague and I felt like I wanted more from it, BUT it was still really good. I also liked that it didn’t totally feel like I was reading a story about a 15-year-old, it wasn’t overly juvenile in the writing style, but totally accessible while reading as an adult.
This was a great coming-of-age story, one that was funny, honest, emotional, and definitely necessary in this day and age. I’m for sure interested to read more from S. K. Ali in the future!