Cover Image: Misfit in Love

Misfit in Love

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Member Reviews

Thank you to Netgalley, Salaam Reads, Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, and the author for early access to a free advanced readers version in exchange for my fair and honest review.

Janna and her family and friends return to celebrate her brother's nikah ceremony.  The story, taking place in less than a week, is a rollercoaster ride of anticipation, excitement, confusion, heartbreak, and hope. In Saints and Misfits, Janna grows into her self; in Misfits in Love, she learns to understand others and her relationships with them.  

While this is a fast and fun read, S.K. Ali tackles some tough issues through Janna's experiences and conversations with her parents, brother, brother's new inlaws, and friends old and new.  The number of characters could have easily become overwhelming, but Ali weaves them into the story smoothly and effectively.  Each one, especially three boys who tug at her heart in different ways, plays a key role in Janna's developing understanding of the herself, others, and the world.

While I wish that Ali had explored the racism and anti-racism more, she explains in the notes that her experiences limit her ability to do so with authenticity.  In the end, I admire the way she addresses the journey everyone is on in this respect.  

Just as with Saints and Misfits, Misfits in Love left me with a greater awareness of the experiences of Muslim youth and their families.  Looking at their faith from Janna's perspective and exploring different ranges of that faith from different charachters, gives me a clearer view of life for my Muslim students and issues they may 
encounterr in their own families.  This is an underrepresented group in YA literature in North America, and I'm glad to have been given the chance to read S. K. Ali's books.
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ARC provided via NetGalley in exchange for honest review.

I am so glad I was able to get this sequel from NetGalley right after finishing Saints & Misfits because I needed more of these characters! S. K. Ali has an art of creating characters that feel like your friends and you can't get enough of them.

This book starts a few years after Saints & Misfits ends and the setting is solely the wedding weekend of her brother Muhammad. Janna may be even more excited to reunite with Nuah, who the last time she saw him, she wasn't ready to reciprocate his feelings for her; but now, she is.  

While the wedding is the focus and the drama of a what was supposed to be a small wedding turned into a 300 person event, there are also many subplots.  Janna has to deal with her mom moving on in her own life in a way Janna didn't expect and also the newfound racism she sees in her father.

While this book is a sequel, it does a good job of mentioning/referencing the first book to give a first time reader of the series just enough information to understand the moments.  In a way, this book seemed lighter than the first, but still dealt with heavy topics like racism.

Another beautiful read by S.K. Ali.  I am truly a fan.
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Like the first book, Saints and MIsfits, this book centers on Janna, a Muslim teenager who chose, in middle school, to wear a hijab like her mother, instead of not wearing one, like her father's female relatives.  Now recently graduated from high school and looking forward to college, Janna has spent the first part of her summer vacation helping prepare for her borther's upcoming nikah, or marriage contract, to Sarah, the "saint" from the previous book, who has now become one of Janna's favorite people.  Janna is looking forward to the ceremony, and to seeing the friends and relatives who are also coming - particularly Nuah, who helped her after she was sexually assaulted by a friend's cousin, and with whom she thinks she might have a future.  But Nuah has been away at college, and his texts have gotten sparser, and as the weekend of the wedding goes on, Janna becomes less sure that Nuah returns her affections.  And then there are the other young men present for the wedding, both new to her - Haymuth and Layth, both very good looking and with very attractive personalities, but in very different ways.  Along with these complications comes Janna's realization that her father doesn't like Nuah for the color of his skin - not until he finds out that Nuah has been attending CalTech, something that might outweigh the fact that Nuah, while Muslim, is not white.  

Janna spends the week leading up to her brother's nikah dealing with these and other issues, working her way through communication gaps and complicated relationships in a way that readers can easily relate to.  This was an enjoyable, and occasionally thought-provoking book, and I thoroughly enjoyed it - to the point that, like its predecessor, I couldn't put it down, and read the entire book within a couple of days.  Not just as good as Saints and Misfits, but even better.
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This was a wonderful follow up to Saints and Misfits. I loved seeing how each character grew over time, and how Janna’s relationships have changed.
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I thoroughly enjoyed getting to read an arc of Misfit in Love. It was wonderful to spend more time with Janna on the page and get to know her more through this sequel. In terms of content, as a Black Muslim, I appreciated seeing how racism within the Muslim community was tackled in the story. It was clear that the author approached the topic with sensitivity and had did the necessary research in order to address the issue. I also enjoyed just being immersed in a story about a Muslim wedding and all of the fun and joy that brought to me as a reader. Lastly, I really liked the ending of the story, and its emphasis on self-love and compassion,
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Unfortunately, there is no option to send this to Kindle. The type on the NetGalley app is too small on my phone.  This looks like an interesting series, but it is impossible for me to read it as is. 
Thank you for the opportunity NetGalley and Simon and Schuster Children's.
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I recently reviewed the first book, Saints and Misfits, here: http://biblioquacious.blogspot.com/2021/03/realistic-ownvoices-for-elementary-and.html . At the time, I said I couldn’t wait to read the sequel.

You can just imagine how excited I was to see that it was available for review—and then to get an ARC of it! As with the first, I raced through it in two sittings.

This book begins about two years after the previous one. Janna has graduated from high school and is preparing for college. She’s had therapy and has mostly healed from being assaulted. This time, we cover only a few days, the preparation and execution of Muhammed and Sarah’s wedding. Honestly, some of these days feel like way too much happens for them to be single days.

Janna is finally ready to accept Nuah’s interest, even as she meets a couple of other boys who are quite interesting! I don’t want to spoil things for you, but this definitely does not go the way I thought it would. Not that that’s a bad thing!

We get to see more of Janna’s relationship with her parents. For the positive, she realizes that her mother is ready for a new relationship, and comes to terms with that. For the negative, she realizes that her father is rather racist. It’s in how Janna deals with these things that she—and we—grow.

As with the first book, Ali does a wonderful job of introducing us to Muslim culture as…just a way people live. As with any religion, people are more and less devout, and more and less good as examples of their faith.

Janna is still a delightfully complicated character. She is filled with self-doubt, jumps to conclusions, has trouble trusting, and loves fiercely. 

After two books, I have fallen in love with so many of the characters, and I really, really, hope there will be another book in the series. Ali leaves us at a place where there certainly could be. So please, everyone, buy this book so the publisher will go forward with another!

Who might like this book:
As before, those who like to learn about other cultures, those who like coming of age, those who like stories about family and complex relationships.

Possible objectionable material:
Racism, though not with any outrageous behavior or outright slurs. The characters are devout Muslims, so boys and girls are never alone together, although a couple of boys appear shirtless once or twice. Periods are mentioned, as is a possible extramarital affair, and a fatal car accident that kills a child.

I received this book for free from the publisher, through NetGalley, in exchange for my honest review.
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It was really nice to see Janna mature in this one, especially because while the last book dealt with the important conversations about sexual assault, this one dealt with the anti blackness in the Asian/desi community which I really appreciated. What I really enjoy about SK Ali's books is that story itself is based on a happy occasion but deals with heavy and important topics and gets a conversation started. 

While I did find Janna sort of frustrating when it came to her "boy troubles", I did appreciate her growth throughout the book. It's also nice to see a character that's well developed but also so strikingly different from Zayneb from Love From A to Z to show that not every Muslim experience is the same and that there are different levels of faith and how faith and culture influence each other. 

I loved getting to know the new characters in this book and revisit old characters and see them all interact! The drama was so fun to read while also giving me the appropriate amount of anger and excitement that book drama tends to give! I was pleasantly surprised by the ending especially because it took a turn that I didn't think it would take. And I'm really glad I got to feel every emotion surrounding a big desi wedding! Would definitely re read and recommend to everyone for some fun drama as well as great openings to important discussions!
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I reread my review of Saints and Misfits before diving in to this sequel that can also work as a stand alone, and imagine my absolute delight when all the things I wanted more of: Muhammed and Sarah, the mom, Jeremy, etc., were explored in this wonderful high school and up, 320 page, romantic comedy story.  The romance stays halal and the comedy light, but seamlessly interwoven into a weekend wedding are very serious notions of racism and prejudice within the Muslim community.  The writing is flawless as I tried to tell the summary to my daughter I realized just how many characters there are in the book, yet while reading, I never once was confused about who someone was or how they fit in to the family, it really is quite remarkable how real and personal the characters all become.  In many ways the story is uniquely an American-Muslim (arguably) one with characters that are half this culture, a quarter that, wearing cultural clothes to coordinate with friends, mutli lingual, multi ethnic, and yet all coming together as friends and family.  We, nor are the characters perfect, but that our weakness is explored in fiction so that we all might benefit in reality, is truly remarkable.  I honestly couldn't put it down, and my teen and tween children may or may not have had to figure out their own meals, as I hid in the corner to devour this book in a single day. I regret nothing.

SYNOPSIS:

Janna Yusuf has just graduated high school and has been spending the last few weeks at her father's sprawling house on a lake to help with wedding preparations for her beloved older brother.  What started out with plans to be a small nikkah between Muhammad and Sara, has quickly snowballed into a "wedding" with a few hundred guests and an ever evolving color scheme.  With extended family and friends pouring in over the three days, Janna is anxious to see Nuah and finally tell him that she is ready to return his feelings, reunite with her mom after being apart for weeks, and see who her best friend Tats is bringing as her plus one.  But, Nuah is acting weird, her mom seems to be considering remarrying, and her father is revealing himself to be racist.  There is a lot going on, and in between wedding preparations, possible crushes, family drama, prejudice overtones, and a curious ice cream man, Janna is having an unforgettable weekend.

Janna and Muhammad are close, they are the children of an Indian American non practicing father and an Egyptian American religious mother.  Their parents have been divorced for a while, and their dad and his Greek wife Linda have two little boys and are hosting everyone and the wedding.  The heart of the story is Janna as she thinks she is ready to pursue something halal with Nuah, but is slightly intrigued by Sara's cousin Haytham and very perplexed by her mother's potential future new husband's nephew Layth. Being it is a wedding, and many people are staying at her father's house and many more at the hotel in town with their own families.  Jana is trying to figure stuff out about Nuah while hanging out with Nuah's older pregnant sister.  She is constantly thrown together with Layth as she meets his Uncle Bilal, her mom's college friend that has proposed to her, and who's own daughters are friends of Sarahs.  Yeah, there is a lot of overlap, a lot.  It's like real life. As attractions wax and wane in such a short time, it is the relationship Janna has with her own family and the contentment she must find within herself that ultimately matter most.

WHY I LIKE IT:

I love how authentic the story and its characters are.  I come from a small family, but a very close friend has a huge family, and this just reminded me of going to her family events and finding how interconnected and small the world really is.  I absolutely love Janna, she is Muslim by choice through-and-through and is genuine in her understanding and actions that, while the book is meant for Muslims and nonMuslims, she really sets the standard of how fictitious characters can positively affect their readers.  The only slightly forced thread for me was Janna suddenly loving animals and being ready to head to Peru.  I get that she was crushing, but it seemed a little too over the top for an otherwise very plausible plot.  

The best part of the book, in my opinion is that it isn't all fluff and fun, there are some very real issues that get spotlighted.  Like in Saints and Misfits where Janna is sexually assaulted by a seemingly devout, religious, well liked male, this story addresses racism and prejudice within the Islamic community.  Janna's dad always felt treated as less than by Janna's mom's family for not being Arab.  He flat out warns Janna about her feelings for Nuah because he is Black.  Sarah's Aunt is offended that the mendhi is more Desi than Arab.  The issues aren't just pointed out, they require active acknowledgement and action.  The author's note at the end, even discusses the significance and weight of such views at the end.

FLAGS:

There are mentions of the sexual assault that happened to Janna in the first book.  There is mention of periods, a possible affair, racism, and a character who drove while drunk and killed his son as a result.

TOOLS FOR LEADING THE DISCUSSION:

I don't know that this book would be a great fit for a school book club, but I think a group of high school or college aged girls would thoroughly enjoy reading this and discussing it, and I would totally invite myself to their gathering to do so.
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Multicultural realistic fiction. This is the sequel to Saints and Misfits. In the midst of her brother's, wedding, Janna discovers she's ready for a relationship but has trouble sharing that information with the person she likes. Then she realizes something about her dad that places an immediate barrier between them and could impact their entire relationship. And what's going on with Janna's mom... is she blushing under the gaze of that man?! Hopefully, Janna will be able to move in a positive direction with her parents and into a solid relationship for herself.
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Happy to read the sequel and I enjoyed it just as much as the first book.  Great characters and issues are handled well.  Discrimination addressed in a thoughtful way.
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Thank you NetGalley for an advanced copy. It has been a long time since I read the prequel "Saints and Misfits," and I don't remember much from it, other than it was a very good book. You don't need to read the prequel to understand what's going on in this book. Any background relationships you need to know about are succinctly explained. However, I thought it was awesome how S.K. Ali snuck in characters from her other novel, but I won't spoil it for you! I will be getting a copy of this for our school library, and it is a perfectly halal romance novel and exceptionally clean. The themes of family, racism, and halal relationships come through very strongly here. Thank you for the perfect ending, twists and turns, and thoughtful discussion points on race and religion.
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I loved Saints and Misfits and Misfit in Love is a great sequel. Finding Jana two years later as her brother prepares to get married she is older, wiser, but still insecure. You can feel her progression as a woman, but she still feels grounded and realistic. The struggles of the characters (Sarah's unhappiness with her husband-t0-be's wedding decor happens to be my favorite) are a great combination of lighter problems that provide humor with deeper problems of racism and how you tackle your parents faults.
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~ received as an ARC from NetGalley ~ 

4/5 stars. 

I LOVED Saints & Misfits, so I was excited to see a sequel with Janna. While this is promised as a standalone, it definitely makes sense to read Saints & Misfits first. I should have reread it, because I had forgotten a LOT of the plot and characters from the first one, but there is enough detail to make sense of it all. 

This book also beautifully tackles racism within the Muslim and Islamic community, along with Antiblackness as a whole. It also details Islamic culture brilliantly, and Janna is a strong hijabi. 

I didn't necessarily like the romance element of it, but I was satisfied at the ending with Janna making the choices she did...I also need an update on the ending of the book because I am invested in the story brewing. 

Overall, once again was beautifully written and tackles complex subjects.
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Just as with “Saints and Misfits,” I learned so so much and I love that about both books. And I enjoy finding out, especially, that there are Muslims of all levels and types of faith - something I don’t think I really understood before. I also really enjoyed the wide array of characters and watching Janna interact with and think about and avoid and get to know each of them. 

The only drawback to this title is hard to put into words. I suppose it would be easiest to simply say that Ali’s books are not easy. Meaning, they challenge me and I don’t breeze through them. Rather, I spend lots of time absorbing and thinking about what’s happening in the story and with the characters and I am a little weary, yet smarter, for having read them. 💜📚
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Thank you Netgalley for a free cope of this arc.  
An interesting story that I enjoyed.  I look forward to reading more books by the author in the future.
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As a sequel, Misfit in Love is an enjoyable read. Its tone is a lot lighter than the previous novel since it focuses on the events and preparation of Sarah and Muhammad's wedding. Taking place the summer before college, Janna finds herself in a situation of dealing with changes to the different relationships in her life. Relationships with her brother, her parents, extended family, friends and of course, the boys she meets. However, Misfit in Love moves further than it's previous novel to examine the growth in the relationship Janna has with herself. Moving past her assault and her endless crushes, Janna grows up and realizes she doesn't need anyone but herself. It's a hopeful and refreshing novel with a great message for teen girls. I'd recommend rereading the Saints and Misfits before diving into this one though.
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I’m so happy to return back to Saints&Misfits universe. I already engaged with those lovely characters and I am so curious to read Janna’s own story. 

After seeing the cover and reading blurb tells me she finds herself in love square : I screamed yes! I was intrigued more and went blind. But to be honest without reading more about his rivalries, I was a little biased to be at team Nuah before starting to read it because at the first book I felt like a JaNu couple story will be about to come as sequel!

  I don’t want to give spoilers but I can only say: I was extremely wrong and to be honest the team I supported was the winner! (At least this was a huge relieving. ) 

  But I have to admit this book is not only about love square centered in heroine’s brother’s wedding. There are so many characters we’ve been already introduced at the first book like Adam and Zeyneb making cameos and it’s so refreshing to see how their stories blended with the other characters’ including Janna’s parents who struggle with deep marriage issues. 

  It’s too hard to digest the changes for Janna suddenly occur inside her close circle : estrangement of her parents , marriage of her brother Muhammad and her long time admirer Nuah acts weird around her. After she decides to give a chance to take a step into a relationship with him but now he seems like the reluctant one! 

And when two newcomers involve into love game: sweet Haytham and annoying Layth: she finds herself more confused than before. 

  It’s a heartfelt, emotional, lovely , soft, quick read also contains sensitive issues like self discovery, racism, divorce. 

  I loved the first book of the series and I mostly recommend you to read that one to enjoy more this sequel! It truly warmed my heart as like the first one did. 

  I’m looking forward to read more books of the series! 

Special thanks to Netgalley and Simon&Schuster Children’s Publishing/ Salaam Reads for sharing this impressive digital reviewer copy with me in exchange my honest thoughts.
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Disclaimer: I recieved this copy in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own. 

I absolutely LOVED this book! I want to own a physical copy soon even though I already read the ARC. It's SO refreshing to see Muslim protagonists. This is the sequel to Saints and Misfits and S.K.Ali tied things that happened in that book in this one. Readers will get to see the aftermath of what happpened and how Janna is coping. I also loved that this book was filled with romance and tackled so many important topics without making it feel rushed. This book tackles racism within the family and it also deals with a protagonist who has divorce parents. I also loved seeing Adam and Zeyneb again, but I wish Adam talked in this book. Janna describes a conversation and that can be left to the reader's imagination. I also loved that I got to see a different side of Muhammad and Sara. ALSO NUAH IS BACK and there's  two more guys who I loved reading about. Honestly, this is just a post where I mostly gush about this book. You need this on your shelf! It really is THE MUSLIM WEDDING EVENT OF THE YEAR! It is perfect for fans of Love from A to Z and Frankly in Love.
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