On a book page, this tab will allow you to add a book to one of your lists.
Please login or register to use this feature.
9781481499255_cover Enlarge Cover View Excerpt
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $14.99
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
published: June 2018
ISBN:9781481499255

Saints and Misfits

by S. K. Ali

reviews: 1
tagged:
add a tag
Please login or register to use this feature.
girls & women, emotions & feelings, religion & faith
5 of 5
1 rating
rated!
rated!
list price: $14.99
edition:Paperback
also available: eBook Hardcover
published: June 2018
ISBN:9781481499255
Description

A William C. Morrow Award Finalist
An Entertainment Weekly Best YA Book of 2017

Saints and Misfits is a “timely and authentic” (School Library Journal, starred review) 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.

Except me.

About the Author

S. K. Ali

S.K. Ali is a teacher based in Toronto whose writing on Muslim culture and life has appeared in the Toronto Star. Her family of Muslim scholars is consistently listed in the The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, and her insight into Muslim culture is both personal and far-reaching. A mother of a teenage daughter herself, S.K. Ali’s debut YA novel is a beautiful and nuanced story about a young woman exploring her identity through friendship, family, and faith.
Author profile page >
Recommended Age, Grade, and Reading Levels
Age:
14 to 99
Grade:
9 to 17
Reading age:
14 to 99

Buy the e-book:

Reader Reviews

Sign Up or Sign In to add your review or comment.

Complex and well-crafted fast read.

So this was incredible. It's the experience of a Muslim-American girl navigating high school, dating, identity, appearance and modesty, bullying, sexism and assault . . . part of what I appreciated about it was the breadth and complexity of the (real-world) world-building the author did to tell this story. We often talk about excellent world-building in fantasy or science fiction, but it takes incredible skill to represent real people and experiences in a way that's recognizable and meaningful.

Ali does a great job with a wide cast, as well as the main character. Everyone has dimension, complexity, a role within the narrative, but aren't limited to a one-note portrayal for the purposes of getting a point across. The MC has a lot to work through, from the pressure of exams and achieving a much-desired academic future, to coping with the expectations of her family and religious community, expectations that she places on herself, assault by someone seen as unassailably righteous within her community, and adolescent explorations of identity such as unsuitable crushes, image-crafting, social media and self-presentation.

In 2017, it's worth noting that this portrayal of a Muslim teen participating in an active Muslim faith community, observing religious practices and exploring her personal attitudes, comfort level, and beliefs around hijab specifically is an unusual and diverse perspective in English-language mass-market fiction. As an outsider to the Muslim community, I found the story, the characters and the scenarios easily comprehensible, and appreciated the opportunity to see through Jana's eyes and get a different perspective on her community. While it's useful to understand historical and cultural influences on today's climate, I felt like the narrative was a helpful reminder that choices around fashion, self-presentation and religious practice are also made on an individual basis, and that teens (and adults) need space to explore those choices and may bring new meaning to them.

Ali wove many influences including, notably, the work of Flannery O'Connor into the narrative to craft a story that introduces questions and themes without hitting you over the head with them, which I appreciated. Questions like how to have integrity, how to be a person you can respect, within the framework of wider expectations and personal choice. While there was a lot going on in the book, I found it to be a surprisingly fast, engaging and even, particularly at the end, emotional read. Also: Nua & Jana flirting is one of the most adorable teen romances I've read.

Bonus points: Canadian author! I don't read a lot of YA contemporary, but I'll be keeping an eye out for more from this author; smart & exceedingly well crafted read.

Related Blog Posts

Reading Lists Featuring “Saints and Misfits”

User Activity

X
Contacting facebook
Please wait...