A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that in S.K. Ali's Saints and Misfits, 15-year-old Janna Yusuf is trying her best to navigate a whole series of relatable teen problems -- fitting into the new families created by her parents' divorce, a tough math class, mean girls, and a crush on a boy who might not be right for her. There's one thing that will set Janna apart for many readers: She's Muslim and has decided to wear a hijab. But for the ethnically diverse friends and neighbors that inhabit Janna's life, her religion is simply one part of what makes up the kind, smart, and feisty girl they know. When Janna's secure world is shattered by an attempted sexual assault, she first struggles and then becomes determined to fight back and hold her attacker accountable. There's some strong language ("hell," "bulls--t," "a--hole," and "bitch") and the assault is not graphically described. An exceptional read for teens wanting to understand how a Muslim teen lives her faith in multicultural America.
What's the story?
Janna Yusuf is balancing a lot in SAINTS AND MISFITS. Her non-religious Indian father and religious Egyptian mother are divorced ,and her father has remarried. Her brother's dating the "the most perfect Muslim girl on the planet," while Janna has crush on a non-Muslim boy named Jeremy. She has one life with a group of culturally diverse friends at her high school and another with her friends at the local mosque. And Janna has a secret she's been keeping from all of them. Farouq, a young man everyone at her mosque considers a saint, tried to sexually assault her and now seems to be turning up everywhere she goes. When she refuses to have anything to do with him, he retaliates by videotaping her talking with Jeremy and sending it to her friends and brother. She knows she needs to fight back and expose Farouq for who he really is, but will anyone believe her?
Is it any good?
This empowering multicultural coming-of-age story uses engaging and relatable teen characters to take on big issues of faith, identity, and sexual assault. Saints & Misfits will introduce readers who don't live in an ethnically or religiously diverse community to Muslim characters with whom they'll have much in common.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how Muslim teens are portrayed in Saints and Misfits. Did it surprise you that Janna's high school life was pretty much like that of any other teenager? Do you think a girl wearing a hijab would be as readily accepted in your school as Janna is in hers?
Several girls post photos on Facebook they know will be hurtful to Janna. Do you think people who post false or hurtful things on social media should be held accountable?
If you knew someone considered a "saint" was actually a "monster," would you speak out? Who would you tell? What if no one believed you?
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