Janna Yusuf is a relatable young girl in Misfit in Love (Saints and Misfits book two) by S.K. Ali. She is dealing with the ins and outs of love, friendship, change and finding a swimsuit that fits. And, oh yeah, she is Muslim, too. This piece of the puzzle that is Janna is a large part of her life, but regardless anyone who was/is almost 18 can relate to her boy troubles, big and little brothers’ woes, parents changing (or at least how we start to see them with more experienced eyes) and wedding planning.
Janna is an interesting person and taking this journey with her is comfortable while introducing you to a culture you might not be familiar with. A “meet-cute” and “teen romance” novel that is the sequel to Saints and Misfits but can be a stand-alone title as well.
I like the way Janna starts to grow. She is almost off to college, but that along with the changes of her brother getting married (to Sarah, a woman Janna feels is a sister), her mother (the only divorced woman of their mosque) might be interested in a new man, and friendships switching around, makes her want things to stay the same. She does not want to be babied but several scenes show her falling into the familiar comfort zone of being babied by her mother. Janna is a teenager who does not want to grow up, but regardless of what she wants, she must.
A strong point is made throughout the novel about racism. The interesting thing is it is about Muslim-to-Muslim discrimination and not from “outside.” Janna’s father is prejudiced against a darker skinned friend of Janna’s as a love interest for her. Some of Sarah’s family feels “slighted” by what they see as not being “included” when their traditions not included in the nikah celebrations, or at least too much focus on “other traditions” instead of theirs. And there is also everyday family dynamics to deal with. There is mention at the privilege of Janna coming from a well-to-do family, and the idea of “needing a man” to “complete” you.
There are a few places that reference the first novel, but also is clear enough to let you know what happened without having to have read it (though it would not have hurt to have done so). I would say at least ages twelve and up would be the best bet for readers (there is mention of the assault Janna faced in book one, a death of a new friend’s sibling), but there is nothing really “overly bad” to it.