Saints and Misfits

YA Contemporary

by S. K. Ali
June 2017 – Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster (US)

2018 William C. Morris Debut Award finalist

An unforgettable debut novel that feels like a modern day My So-Called Life . . . starring a Muslim teenager.

Fifteen-year-old Janna Yusuf, daughter of the only divorced mother at the mosque, is a Flannery-O’Connor-obsessed high achiever. So when her best friend’s cousin—a holy star in the Muslim community—attempts to assault her at the end of sophomore year, the only way she can make sense of the events that follow is to see life through Flannery’s eyes: rife with saints, misfits, and a monster. And, yes, the mayhem that follows when you take on your assaulter with a Niqabi ninja YouTuber at your side.

Accessible and unflinching, SAINTS AND MISFITS is an important book for young readers of all backgrounds.

S. K. Ali is a teacher based in Toronto whose writing on Muslim culture and life has appeared in the Toronto Star. Her family of Muslim scholars is consistently listed in the The 500 Most Influential Muslims in the World, and her insight into Muslim culture is both personal and far-reaching. A mother of a teenage daughter herself, S.K. Ali’s debut YA novel is a beautiful and nuanced story about a young woman exploring her identity through friendship, family, and faith.

Publicity and press:

• Finalist for the 2018 William C. Morris Debut Award
Kirkus‘s Best Teen Books of 2017
Entertainment Weekly‘s 10 Best YA Books of 2017


« Ali pens a touching exposition of a girl’s evolution from terrified victim to someone who knows she’s worthy of support and is brave enough to get it. Set in a multicultural Muslim family, this book is long overdue, a delight for readers who will recognize the culture and essential for those unfamiliar with Muslim experiences.This quiet read builds to a satisfying conclusion; readers will be glad to make space in their hearts—and bookshelves—for Janna Yusuf.”—Kirkus Reviews, STARRED

« For readers unfamiliar with Muslim traditions, Ali offers plenty of context clues and explanations, though she always keeps the story solidly on Janna’s struggle to maintain friendships, nurse a crush, deal with bullies and predatory people in her life, and discover her own strength in the process. A wide variety of readers will find solidarity with Janna, and not just ones who wear a hijab.”—Booklist, STARRED

“The structured delivery magnifies the teen’s rich voice in a character-driven novel about identity, highlighting her faith and typical teenage stress. Readers can empathize with Janna’s problems, and the pages will turn quickly. Each secondary character adds depth to the narrative and simultaneously strengthens the diverse portrait that the Toronto-based author shares. VERDICT This timely and authentic portrayal is an indisputable purchase in the realistic fiction category.”—School Library Journal, STARRED