The darkness is crushing her,
Attacker masquerading as righteous,
Why can’t anyone see it?
Janna can cope with being considered a nerd because she studies or different because she wears the hijab at public school, which her remarried dad says is “too religious”.
But when the guy who assaulted her keeps her in sight at every mosque activity and is welcomed at friends’ homes, her fear grows – and she doesn’t want to be afraid anymore!
This June 2017 debut novel would be better titled as Saints and Misfits and a Monster, as Janna’s attacker stalks her in plain sight of everyone who sees only his pious exterior.
How can you support someone in Janna’s situation?
My book talk: Mom is the only divorcee at the mosque, brother Muhammad is is taking a year off from college, and Dad cannot understand why Janna wears the hijab – this school year cannot end fast enough for the Illinois teen who loves her friends greatly and is being stalked mercilessly.
Pleasant things: elder-sitting Mr. Ram with his poetic mind, laughing at Nuah’s jokes, daydreaming about cute Jeremy who’s in no school cliques, re-reading Flannery O’Connor.
Less-pleasant: explaining at school that she’s fine wearing hijab on hot days, her BFF’s continued cluelessness about how Janna absolutely cannot date, competing on Islamic Quiz Bowl team (tricked into it!), chaperoning Muhammad and Sarah as they begin spending time together (Saint Sarah as future sister-in-law?!)
Most unpleasant: watching popular kids bully people who are a little different, trying to avoid Farooq of the so-pious Noor family, finding photos online of herself with uncovered hair and tagged with her name!
What’s worse – having a crush on a non-Muslim boy or memories of a ‘pious’ Muslim boy’s assault crushing her?
The imam’s answers to emailed questions are both witty and wise – will Janna take the advice given by her uncle as she edits it for the mosque’s website?
Farooq seems to be everywhere, all the time – will she ever be able to forget what he did to her?
Sometimes saints aren’t so good and the not-good-enough are better than their detractors – it’s up to Janna to decide where the lines are drawn in her own life.