Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali
My Rating: 5 stars
Cover Rating: 7/10 this is a super pretty cover! It’s sweet and lovely and it fits the book very well.
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Publish Date: June 13th, 2017
Number of Pages: 328
Received: Netgalley provided an e-copy in exchange for an honest review.
An Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of 2017
A Kirkus Top 10 Contemporary Teen Novel of 2017
A 2018 William C. Morris Award Finalist
Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.
There are three kinds of people in my world:
1. Saints, those special people moving the world forward. Sometimes you glaze over them. Or, at least, I do. They’re in your face so much, you can’t see them, like how you can’t see your nose.
2. Misfits, people who don’t belong. Like me–the way I don’t fit into Dad’s brand-new family or in the leftover one composed of Mom and my older brother, Mama’s-Boy-Muhammad.
Also, there’s Jeremy and me. Misfits. Because although, alliteratively speaking, Janna and Jeremy sound good together, we don’t go together. Same planet, different worlds.
But sometimes worlds collide and beautiful things happen, right?
3. Monsters. Well, monsters wearing saint masks, like in Flannery O’Connor’s stories.
Like the monster at my mosque.
People think he’s holy, untouchable, but nobody has seen under the mask.
Opening Sentence: “I’m in the water.”
I loved this book for being about a girl embracing her heritage and ultimately accepting that there is strength is facing the darkness that touched you. Saints and Misfits may have been a light read, but the ending pulls everything together and makes an impactful mark on your heart.
What I loved:
Getting to know a bit about Muslim culture. I don’t really know much about what it means to be Muslim and this was a nice little drop of knowledge for me. Reading stories like this one helps me understand more and see a fragment of the beauty of Muslim culture.
The value of religion and family. Janna falls for Jeremy and in the book she comes to decide weather or not they should pursue anything further then a crush. Her faith matters deeply to her and the question of dating someone outside of her faith being good for her or not is an important question.
Janna’s relationship with the older man she helps take care of. I love how adorable it is that she helps this man and he talks to her and recites poems that she writes down and saves for later reading. This wholesome relationship in the book was so cute to read about.
No one is perfect no matter how put together they seem to be. I love that this novel explores this in both a darker sense and in a lighter way too. You never know what’s going on beneath the surface in others lives and from a glance you can think someone is infallible, but taking the time to know someone you see they are human just like you are. In the darker sense sadly some people are more nefarious and that’s a sad thing to think about.
All in all:
I really enjoyed reading this. It felt real and full of teen drama. What it’s like to deal with internet problems and issues between friends and trying to balance family, grades, and life in general. So much lives inside Saints and Misfits. It was a wonderful read.
About the Author
S. K. Ali* is the author of Saints and Misfits (Simon & Schuster, 2017), a finalist for the American Library Association’s 2018 William C. Morris award. Her debut novel won critical acclaim for its portrayal of an unapologetic Muslim-American teen’s life. Saints and Misfits was featured on several Best Teen Novels of 2017 lists including from Entertainment Weekly, Kirkus Reviews and the New York Public Library. It was also a CBC Canada Reads 2018 longlist title and featured in the Globe and Mail, Toronto Star, NBC News, Huffington Post, Salon, Bustle, CBC Radio’s The Next Chapter, The Social, The Morning Show and other North American media.
Sajidah holds a degree in Creative Writing from York University and has written about Muslim life for various outlets, including the Toronto Star and NBC News. Her second novel, Love From A to Z(Simon & Schuster, 2019), a story about finding love in the time of Islamophobia, was a Today Show pick, a Goodreads Readers Choice Nominee and on several best 2019 YA lists, including Kirkus and Entertainment Weekly’s top ten. Love from A to Zwas the first YA title chosen to be part of the Today Show’s “Read With Jenna” book club.
Her picture book, The Proudest Blue (Little Brown, 2019), co-authored with Ibtihaj Muhammad, debuted on the New York Times Bestseller list and was featured in the New York Times, NPR, Amazon Editor’s Choice, The Today Show, among other media. Along with We Need Diverse Books co-founder, Aisha Saeed, Sajidah is the co-editor of a Middle Grade anthology called, Once Upon an Eid(Amulet, 2020), winner of the Middle East Book Honor Award and a Kirkus and School Library Journal Best Book of 2020.
S. K. Ali lives in Toronto with her family, which includes a very vocal cat named Yeti.
*first name: Sajidah (Saj-da)
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