A timely and necessary read for all communities to reflect upon.

MISFIT IN LOVE

While helping with her brother Muhammad’s wedding, Egyptian and Indian American Janna Yusuf prepares her heart to confess to her crush in this sequel to Saints and Misfits (2017).

Though originally planned as a small, intimate nikah ceremony, Janna’s Indian father has turned Muhammad and Syrian American Sarah’s katb el-kitab into an elaborate affair. Also attending is Janna’s friend Nuah, with whom she recently realized she is in love. But while trying to find a moment to confess, she discovers that her father doesn’t approve of Nuah because he is Black. Disturbed and angered by her father’s racist views, Janna becomes increasingly aware of other instances of anti-Black discrimination and racism among Muslims in her family and community. This complicates her feelings about her relationships as her realization grows of how these views have affected other Muslims as well as her own budding romance. Ali’s narrative of a Muslim teen navigating life, heartbreak, and romance also explores larger issues with depth and texture. Janna works through cognitive dissonance as she examines principles of justice, equity, and committing to everyday anti-racist action while also considering the degree to which boys have been at the center of her attention. The cast of the first book returns, and Zayneb and Adam from Love From A to Z (2019) make a cameo appearance, but new readers will find the story accessible.

A timely and necessary read for all communities to reflect upon. (Fiction. 12-18)

Pub Date: May 25, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-5344-4275-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Salaam Reads/Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2021

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Riveting, brutal and beautifully told.

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WE WERE LIARS

A devastating tale of greed and secrets springs from the summer that tore Cady’s life apart.

Cady Sinclair’s family uses its inherited wealth to ensure that each successive generation is blond, beautiful and powerful. Reunited each summer by the family patriarch on his private island, his three adult daughters and various grandchildren lead charmed, fairy-tale lives (an idea reinforced by the periodic inclusions of Cady’s reworkings of fairy tales to tell the Sinclair family story). But this is no sanitized, modern Disney fairy tale; this is Cinderella with her stepsisters’ slashed heels in bloody glass slippers. Cady’s fairy-tale retellings are dark, as is the personal tragedy that has led to her examination of the skeletons in the Sinclair castle’s closets; its rent turns out to be extracted in personal sacrifices. Brilliantly, Lockhart resists simply crucifying the Sinclairs, which might make the family’s foreshadowed tragedy predictable or even satisfying. Instead, she humanizes them (and their painful contradictions) by including nostalgic images that showcase the love shared among Cady, her two cousins closest in age, and Gat, the Heathcliff-esque figure she has always loved. Though increasingly disenchanted with the Sinclair legacy of self-absorption, the four believe family redemption is possible—if they have the courage to act. Their sincere hopes and foolish naïveté make the teens’ desperate, grand gesture all that much more tragic.

Riveting, brutal and beautifully told. (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: May 13, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-385-74126-2

Page Count: 240

Publisher: Delacorte

Review Posted Online: March 17, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2014

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An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development.

I KISSED SHARA WHEELER

A romance with solid queer representation set against the backdrop of an Alabama Christian school.

Chloe Green is the only one who sees through Shara Wheeler’s goody-two-shoes act, and now that Shara’s pulled a disappearing act right before being crowned prom queen, she makes it her business to find her. This means teaming up with unlikely allies like Smith Parker, Shara’s jock boyfriend, and Rory Heron, the brooding boy next door, both in love with Shara, just as Chloe claims she is not. What brings the trio together is a series of notes Shara has left them, along with the awkward fact that she kissed all three of them before vanishing. McQuiston’s YA debut starts off as a fun page-turner with a rich cast of queer characters but ultimately disappoints with its predictable plot twists and protagonists whose journeys feel lackluster. In a story that uplifts the importance of friendship and found family, the main character’s tunnel vision and indifference toward her friends’ problems make for an ending that doesn’t feel earned. Rather than coming across as a complicated but earnest love interest, Shara feels superficial and narcissistic, raising the question of why so many people drop everything to pursue her. Shara and Chloe are White; Rory has a White mom and Black dad, and Smith is described as having dark brown skin. Bisexual Chloe has two moms.

An engaging, fast-paced story let down by character development. (author’s note) (Romance. 14-18)

Pub Date: May 3, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-250-24445-1

Page Count: 368

Publisher: Wednesday Books

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2022

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