Review: Saints and Misfits by S.K. Ali

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Saints and Misfits
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.

Boy... I really liked this book. For some reason, the cover didn't really do it for me and honestly I'm not sure if photography played a big enough part in the book for it to have such an impact on the cover.

That being said, there are so many beautiful parts to this book. Janna's relationship with her elderly neighbor, Janna's love of reading (brownie points!), how Janna and her brother seemed so different, but there was a loving relationship buried in their somewhere. I know that Janna went a little boy crazy for a while there in the middle, but ultimately she remained true to herself, she wore all black, layers were her friends, and her hijab was always in place. Janna remained the truest version of herself.

I like that the book didn't skirt away from racial and cultural issues, they were front a center. The gym teacher being able to pronounce nontraditional names, but not hijab, Janna's dad... need I say more, and while Janna's closest non-Muslim friend didn't always understand Janna's culture or practices, when push came to shove, we saw how amazing of a friend she actually was. How Janna dealt with the Monster even seemed to be affected by her culture (my heart broke for her, I was almost in tears).

My usual disclaimer, I can't speak to what it's like to be a Muslim teenage girl. That being said, I can speak to finding a balance between your culture, and your immediate surroundings. I know what it's like to try to explain the choices you make in every day life, but not give too much detail because you don't want to have to justify who you are. I know what it's like to walk the line between your actions with your family within your culture, and with your friends who will do their best to understand.

Saints and Misfits covered a lot of ground, and in my opinion, it did it pretty darn well. Whether you're Muslim, black, Spanish, Asian, White, Indigenous, or any combination, this is a book that you can relate to. I encourage every one to pick it up and pick it up now.

5 Stars.


  1. I really liked this book too. I read a bunch of great cultural coming-of-age stories, and what I loved most about them all was the way the authors shared their culture and religion with me. I adored Jana, but I also loved Nuah, Muhammad, Mr. Ram, Sarah, Tats, and Samsun - the book was packed with a bunch of great characters, who challenged Jana, but also supported her.

    1. Yes!! It's so important to to surround yourself with people who are supportive by will challenge you to be the best version of yourself that you can be!

  2. People in this world play different role according to the society. They were face mask to prove them as good, but in real they are fake and totally different DUI from their action. You have well said about different faces of the people in this world clearly.. Your novel has real fact and very good to read.

  3. I see your point, and I totally appreciate your article. For what its worth I will tell all my friends about it, quite resourceful. Later.

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