"...equal parts conflict and heart..." —Teen Vogue
"Safi’s prose style has a lively staccato rhythm that captures Lulu’s spirited nature.. In addition to Safi’s focus on multicultural identity, her story provides a candid perspective on female friendships that are full of conflict, love, and angst...Safi offers a refreshing perspective on conformity and the path to self-actualization."
—Publishers Weekly (starred)
"Safi’s debut novel offers Arab and Muslim readers a teenager they can relate to as they too learn to navigate racial and religious tensions in a predominantly white society. Delightful and funny but still giving voice to serious issues of sexual consent and xenophobia."
"These authentic teen girls are smart, complicated, sexual, and sensitive. Their friendships can be mean and messy, but they are also fiercely loyal. This rich story also explores biracial and mixed culture identity (Lulu has a white mom and an Arab dad) in all its joys and struggles..This debut is a worthwhile purchase for all teen collections."
—School Library Journal
Not The Girls You're Looking For
Lulu Saad doesn't need your advice, thank you very much. She's got her three best friends and nothing can stop her from conquering the known world. Sure, for half a minute she thought she’d nearly drowned a cute guy at a party, but he was totally faking it. And fine, yes, she caused a scene during Ramadan. It's all under control. Ish.
Except maybe this time she’s done a little more damage than she realizes. And if Lulu can't find her way out of this mess soon, she'll have to do more than repair friendships, family alliances, and wet clothing. She'll have to go looking for herself.
Debut author Aminah Mae Safi's honest and smart novel is about how easy it can be to hurt those around you even if —especially if—you love them.
A Junior Library Guild Selection
"As hilarious as it is heartwarming, this beautiful story about family, friendships, and one amazingly complex teenage girl will leave you begging for more."
—Sandhya Menon, New York Times bestselling author of When Dimple Met Rishi
“Engaging and unexpected, voice-y and full of verve, this a whip-smart swan dive into all the messiness of best friendships and new romance, fitting in and growing up.”
—Katie Cotugno, New York Times-bestselling author of How to Love
“An intense, emotional debut about finding one's place in the world and throwing off labels applied by other people.”
—Jodi Meadows, author of Before She Ignites
“Lulu Saad is exactly the girl YA fiction has been looking for: a fearless and beautiful Arab-American Muslim ready to take the world by storm. Sparkling with humor, wit and vulnerability, Safi's debut will make you laugh and cry.”
—Tanaz Bhathena, author of A Girl Like That
The Bibliography— Not The Girls You’re Looking For
The Classic Mean Girls of Cinema
Mean Girls -- One of those movies that was iconic as soon as it came out, but also, isn't holding up for me the more I re-watch. I keep thinking how the last ten minutes of the movie just neatly happen, the girls moving beyond their mean girl phase. I wanted a whole story about that-- the what comes after a girl transfers her ambition away from the most destructive spaces.
Grease -- Rizzo forever.
Clueless -- Because Lulu's life is totally normal.
Heathers -- The original. For dark comedy. What's your damage?
The Classic Sisters of Literature
The Bennet Sisters from Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen -- Like many writers, Austen is a touchstone. But for this story in particular, the ways in which sisters take on roles and form mirrors and foils to one another, often of their own choosing, was a theme that kept coming back to me as I wrote.
The March Sisters from Little Women by Louisa May Alcott -- Like Lo, I will stan for Amy March until I die. Please look into the history of May Alcott Nieriker before at-ing me on this.
Bachelorette, dir. Lesley Headland -- The classic mean girls of cinema, all grown up. A lesser known dark comedy on when we grow up but our co-dependent relationships don't. (n.b. TW for suicide attempts and drug abuse).
Saving Francesca, Melina Marchetta -- Marchetta has been formative in many ways but, for me, none so much as this one. Ensemble casts, girls integrating at a previously all boys school, Italian heritage, family depression, and feminism all collide in this perfect book.
Habibi, Naomi Shihab Nye -- the first half Arab, half American protagonist I ever saw in fiction. Liyana was among the first and the few Arab American girls I'd get as a protagonist. About a girl who moves from St. Louis to Palestine in the 1970s.