Saints and Misfits
S. K. Ali
Published June 13, 2017
About Saints and Misfits
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 an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.
This book made me think a lot about the way that we tend to reduce people to being just one or two things– because it did the opposite so well. Each character is so different and has so many layers. I feel like we often see people of faith represented in sort of cookie cutter ways, and I loved seeing all the varied representations of different types of people here. It might be the most honest, authentic stories centered around a faith community that I’ve ever read. (I loved ONCE WAS LOST by Sara Zarr, too.)
Janna faces her own misjudgments about the people around her as well as being pleasantly– and sometimes unpleasantly– surprised by those around her. I loved her relationship with her elderly neighbor and the way his friendship impacted her and her friendships with Tats and Sarah and Sausun. Janna learns a lot about courage, finding her voice, and learning to speak up for herself. It’s about confronting evil even when it emerges in what should be a sacred space.
The book doesn’t just tackle hard issues and relationships and faith questions, though. It’s quirky and funny and so much fun to read. Janna’s voice is often self-deprecating and wry and smart. I loved that.
All in all, I really enjoyed reading SAINTS AND MISFITS, and I totally bawled through the big climactic scenes where Janna does the thing she most needs to do. MISFIT IN LOVE, a new adventure about Janna and her family and friends, comes out soon, and I really can’t wait to read it.
Recommended for Ages 14 up.
Most major characters are Muslim.
Profanity/Crude Language Content
Strong profanity used infrequently.
Romance/Sexual Content – Trigger Warning
A boy grabs a girl and pins her down, groping her against her will.
Janna references prayer and attends several events at the mosque with her family. Her uncle is the imam, and as part of her job helping with the mosque website, she helps with the grammar of some answers to questions people in the community have asked about Islam.
See romance trigger warning. There are also some instances of online bullying. Girls post pictures of Janna without her hijab and others post cruel comments on the photos.
Janna and her friend attend a party where teens are drinking. Janna does not drink alcohol.
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