Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

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It’s Saints and Misfits release day! I had 2 top priority books when I went to Yallwest in April. One was When Dimple Met Rishi, which I scored and wrote about here. The other was Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali. I hovered around the Riveted booth for a good portion of the day, trying to make sure that I was around when the lines started forming. I stood in a hot, sunny line for over an hour for each book and it was worth every minute of the wait!

I saved Saints and Misfits to read during the #RamadanReadathon (an awesome readathon celebrating books by Muslim authors). I read it at every chance I had–on the bus, waiting to get an x-ray on my foot, and in the park. I laughed and cried with this book and I absolutely adored the main character, Janna. She’s one of those unforgettable characters who will make me return to this book again and again to spend time in her head. Read this book to meet Janna.

Janna is funny. Her inner dialogue made me literally laugh out loud on the bus. She’s witty and fast with her jokes.

Janna is strong. She struggles with the monster of her life who attempted to rape her. Farooq has memorized the Quran, he’s involved with the community, and he’s considered the ideal Muslim man–but Janna knows the truth about him. She develops her strength throughout the book to stand for what she knows is right. I was crying at the last page, awed at Janna’s resilience and thankful to have a character like this for teen girls to read about.

Janna is a book nerd. Her favorite author is Flannery O’Connor and she makes many references to her work throughout the book. Janna is comforted by books and she understands what it’s like to find yourself in a book and not feel so alone.

Janna is a friend–to everyone. I loved that Janna had so many friendships and relationships. She has school friends, friends from the Mosque, friends from her apartment building, and friends from the community center. She takes care of an older man, Mr. Ram, and instead of just a once a week caretaker, she’s a friend to him. Each of her friends offers a different perspective and helps Janna grow.

Janna is realistic, relatable, and complex. She is a real teenage Muslim girl with crushes, friend and family drama, anxiety about tests, inner struggles, interests, dreams, and complexities. She changes and evolves. She doesn’t apologize for taking up space. She labels herself as a misfit and she comes to realize that it’s not a bad thing. Misfits like Janna will see themselves in the pages of this book.

Add Saints and Misfits to your Goodreads shelf here. Request it at your library, buy it at your local bookstore, talk about it and recommend it. Help Janna find her readers.

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