Saints and Misfits, by S.K. Ali
Beyond all that—as if that isn’t enough—it’s a stellar story about family and friendship. Every single relationship—even between secondary characters—is complex and nuanced. The portrayal of various long-term divorce-related family tensions is fantastic, as is the difference in how Janna and her older brother Muhammad react and interpret those tensions. Janna and Muhammad clash about some things, but still exhibit Sibling Solidarity in regards to others:
We’d agreed that this is the best setup for video chatting with Dad as he sometimes starts asking about Mom’s buying habits if he glimpses anything new in the apartment. I guess he’s careful about his child support payments being put to good use.
Perspective, and how our perspective is shaped by age and life experience and gender and every other facet of identity, is the common thread that runs through everything. Janna’s take on Flannery O’Connor and on Shakespeare is not only affected, but framed by who she is, just as her elderly friend Mr. Ram’s opposite take is affected and framed by who he is.