cover image Saints and Misfits

Saints and Misfits

S.K. Ali. Salaam Reads, $18.99 (336p) ISBN 978-1-4814-9924-8

Sophomore Janna Yusuf is caught between her Muslim faith and the parts of her life that clash with it: her nonpracticing father; her crush Jeremy, who isn’t Muslim; and the pious boy from her mosque who attempts to sexually assault her during a party. This push and pull gives readers unfamiliar with Islam a deep understanding of Muslim practices and women who wear the hijab without limiting the scope of the story. Instead, debut novelist Ali taps into universal thoughts and situations, including the feelings of not fitting in, oppressive social stigmas, and the difficulty of truly connecting with and trusting others. Everything is perceived and digested through Janna’s lens as she questions a world that she finds is mostly gray areas: a photo project serves as an ironic twist for a girl pretending she wasn’t assaulted, a woman she thinks is a saint turns out to be a typically flawed human, and her relationship with an elderly Indian man exposes her own shortcomings. It’s a sympathetic and thoughtful study of a girl’s attempt to find her place in a complicated world. Ages 14–up. Agent: John M. Cusick, Folio Literary Management. (June)