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Saints and Misfits by S K Ali - Review

Thursday, January 11, 2018

Where did I get it? I had it on pre-order for TEN MONTHS - I ordered it in December 2016 and it arrived last October!  

What's it about? Janna is fifteen, and is at high school. She's Muslim and a hijabi, and she lives with her divorced mum. Her brother Muhammad has just moved back in with them. She sees her dad, but she feels really far away from his life. She is a good student and she helps to take care of an elderly neighbour, Mr Ram.

She has a crush on a non-Muslim guy, Jeremy, which she is conflicted about. She also knows a monster - her friend Fizz's cousin Farooq, who sexually assaults her in Fizz's basement one evening. The problem is everyone thinks Farooq is a good Muslim, because he learn the Quran off by heart. Jeremy and Farooq are friends, too. 

There's a lot of things going on in the book which make it feel like a real snapshot of life. I loved Janna, I thought she was a really good main character and I liked a lot of things about her. I liked her friend Tats, and I liked her mum and Muhammad. I liked Nuah, too, I thought he was such a dish and I'd really love a sequel based on his life! Janna's life is recognisable for any teenager, and when there are Islamic terms used they're always explained, which would be good for a reader unfamiliar with Islam. Janna wears hijab and I loved how it was portrayed that she cared a lot about how it looked and how her clothes in general looked. 

This is an excellent book and I'm really glad to have read it. 

What age range is it for? Janna is fifteen, so I'm going to say from around 14 upwards. 

Are any main characters LGBTQ+? No 

Are any main characters people of colour? Yes. 

Are any main characters disabled either mentally or physically? Janna's friend Sandra has a physical attribute which she is bullied for - I really liked this thread of plot too. 

Is there any sex stuff? No. 

Are drugs mentioned or used? I don't think so? 

Is there any talk of death? No 

Are there swear words? No, almost none 

What criticisms do I have? My criticisms are that it just isn't long enough! Because it is, like I said, a snapshot of life, there's tons of stuff going on that I wanted more of. For instance, I wanted to know what happened to Farooq, I wanted to know what happened between Muhammad and the girl he likes, Sarah. I wanted to know whether Janna's mum found a new love. I needed more of Nuah and his relationship with Janna. 

Would I recommend the book? One hundred percent. To everyone I know. 

Why did I choose to read it at this point in life? I'd been reminded of its existence because S K Ali's tweets about Muslim shelf space got retweeted into my timeline and I thought it was about time I read her book. I don't think I have read too many books about young Muslims, so that's something I can definitely do better with. 

What other books is it like? It reminded me of Little and Lion which I read last year, I think that book has the same kind of snapshot of life feel about it

How many stars? Nine out of ten, practically nothing to complain about!

Where is the book going now? I think I'm going to lend it to a friend, I'll have to pop it in the post!

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