*Slight notice: If & Then Thursdays is on hold for a hot second because my brain has decided to turn off and I literally can’t think of any books that are like each other for the book life of me. I should hopefully be back to it next week! <3*
Saints and Misfits by S. K. Ali
WOW. WOW. WOW. Okay, here’s the truth: I thought this was going to be a swoony, adorable romance – one of those cheesy contemporaries that melts me into a pile of cheesy goodness (I have literally no clue how – THE COLORS ARE SO BRIGHT ON THE COVER, SO I’M BLAMING THAT). But it turned out to be the exact opposite on the contemporary scale: one of those books that you need to push at everyone and everyone you can because it is SUPER important messages and makes you feely feel.
Saints and Misfits is an unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life…starring a Muslim teen.
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?
This book moved me. It is a brilliant coming of age story that showcases the struggles of knowing what is right and what is wrong – and certainly what is right and wrong to do. Did I see many of the things coming in this novel? No. Did I think I would like certain characters by the end of this novel? Certainly not, but they became favorites.
This book – despite the super cheery and GORGEOUS cover – deals with a lot of deep and heavy topics (trigger warning: rape), but this book deals with them beautifully. Janna’s story is heartbreaking, but she never lets what happen to her define her and by the end of the novel, she is a truly remarkable character and individual.
The side characters are fantastic as well. I had major heart eyes over Nuah and Sausun. Even Saint Sarah won me over at the end. Each of them were complex, detailed, and were nicely defined. I either loved them like Janna did or I completely hated them – although I will admit that I might not have totally loved Jeremy as much (sorry, Janna, there was another love for me).
I don’t want to talk about too much in the book and give much away, but it really is a character driven novel. It has a lot of things going on, but it does focus on a lot of Janna’s growth and journey. It really is wonderfully done, though, and I was intrigued the whole time (although if you look at my Goodreads progress, it took me an absurdly long time to read it XD).
The only issue I had with it was the beginning. For the first bit, it was kind of hard to get into. The writing at this point felt more like fragments for me – it seemed like just snapshots and I couldn’t get into the writing. But then it mellowed out a bit, and I was super into the story. It just distracted me from getting into that first part.
Overall, this was a great book, and while I totally didn’t realize what it would be about, I totally loved it anyway. It is a story that definitely hasn’t left me even though I read it quite a bit ago. There was only that slow beginning, but then it turned out to definitely be one of the best reads of the month. 4.5 crowns and an Anna rating!
Check it out:
What do you think? Have you read this? Do you ever get confused by colors and feelings from books? Let’s discuss in the comments below!