Friday, September 1, 2017
Book Review: Saints and Misfits
AUTHOR: S. K. Ali
PUBLISHED: June 13th, 2017
GENRE: Realistic Fiction
PREMISE: A girl tries to figure herself out as her life gets more and more complicated.
MY REVIEW: This book billed itself as My So-Called Life with a Muslim teen and...I don't particularly think that's accurate. It's more along the lines of a more cheerful Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson. It has a lot to say about rape culture and things like who we see ourselves as versus who others see us as etc.
I will say the writing here is very good. If I could rate this on the writing alone, it would get five stars. Ali delivers great dialogue, fully fleshed out characters, and there's a competent plot. This is very good debut. I just have some issues with some stuff here and there. For instance there's one scene where Janna's friend basically shames rape survivors who don't speak up about about their rapist. Just...don't do that people, okay? A lot of times rape survivors are not in position to speak up because the rapist is in a position of power or like in this case a beloved member of the community. If they speak up, harm will come to them in various forms. That's not even going into the amount of times people just straight up don't believe you if you say you were raped and will call you a liar (which spoiler, does happen to the main character). To the author's credit, she does have Janna call the friend out on how that wasn't okay, but the friend is quickly forgiven so...yeah. I'm really not okay with that scene.
Other then that big issue, I mostly liked this book. It's a solid read. As I mentioned, it reminds me a lot of Speak, but doesn't have the over-the-top bullying aspect of that novel. I love Speak, but sometimes it felt like the author piling on problems for the main character. This novel avoids that but also doesn't make light of what happened. It's a very nice balance. I'll be on the lookout for more books from this author.
WHO SHOULD READ: fans of Speak, contemporary fiction fans
MY RATING: Four out of Five solid debuts