Book: SAINTS AND MISFITS
Author: S.K. Ali
TWs: Sexual assault
Rep: Muslim, divorced families, hijabis, niqabis, Hindu (minor character), PTSD.
MG, YA, Other: YA contemporary.
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?
I feel like I sat this a lot… but this book was super hard to rate. Super. Hard.
I loved the characters in this book. I love Janna, I loved her brother, and I even loved Saint Sarah after a spell.
The way Janna’s sexual assault and the resulting PTSD was handled beautifully. So many YA books have the girl immediately seeking revenge (and that’s AWESOME AND WONDERFUL!) but seeing Janna’s uncertainty and her need to tell someone but her uneasiness at doing so felt so real and touched on my own experience with sexual assault.
However… the summary of the book is misleading. Janna’s comic? She talks about it a lot (she started it as a kid) but works on it once. Jeremy? She hangs out with him once, we see him a few times, and that’s about it. Caring what other people think? Other than putting in hair product once, I didn’t see that. I felt like this book started the Janna’s assault, had a few 100 pages of her day to day life with Monster sighting, and then a big ending. I loved the ending. I thought the ending was wonderful and perfect- it was everything else that lacked.
Having said all of that, this book was not written for me. This is very far out of my lane and I probably missed nuances that mean a lot to Muslim girls. For that, I suggest you check out this review and this review for ownvoice viewpoints of this book.