Rummanah Aasi

Description: 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.

Review: Lulu is ready to tackle junior year and any other obstacles as long as she has her three best friends by her side. After one hookup goes sour, her friendships start to tear apart. To make matters worse, she's on thin ice with her mom. Lulu struggles to put back the pieces of her life and find herself in the process. Not the Girls You're Looking For is a character-driven, coming-of-age story that explores relationships and identity in many forms, which is mostly done well.
  Lulu is an abrasive, "in-your-face" character that took me a long time to warm up to. She is smart, flawed, sexual, and vulnerable. Lulu is approachable when she opens up and lets her guards down. We learn that due to Islamophobic bullying, she has to develop a thick skin and become aggressive. Lulu is not particularly religious either. She drinks, smokes pot, and casually hooks up with boys though she does fast during Ramadan, which is when the story takes place. I wished the author would have explored more about the significance particularly of self awakening, spiritual aspect that is the core part of observing Ramadan. Once again an educating opportunity is slipped and what pained me about it most that it made Lulu ashamed to talk about it because she was afraid of being bullied.
  The exploration of female friendships takes the center stage in the book. Each girl brings something to the group, but it messy, mean, and uneven at times which makes it realistic. The discussion of slut shaming, a candid look at consent, and sexual assault is also an important aspect of the book, but it could have been fleshed out more. The inclusion of a healthy romance where consent is taken seriously plans a good contrast so readers can distinguish the two different behaviors. I do wish the author spent more time in tackling one character's alcoholism and having another character confide with an adult about sexual assault. I was unhappy about another character's sexuality and coming out just through into the story as a plot point to get to Lulu's light bulb moment. 
  Personally, I was more engaged in the book when Lulu explores her biracial and mixed culture identity (Lulu has a white mom and an Arab dad) in all its joys and struggles. Her frustrations of always being labeled as "other" and the feelings about being an impostor or having impostor syndrome is poignant and thought provoking. I would have much rather preferred if the book was just about unpacking her identity. The plot sometimes suffers from uneven pacing, but Lulu's voice is strong and I was curious to see where the story went.

Rating: 3 stars

Words of Caution: There is strong language, underage drinking and drug use, scenes of sexual harassment/assault, and a brief sex scene in the book. Recommended for Grades 9 and up.

If you like this book try: Love, Hate, and Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
1 Response
  1. This one sounds like it is more appropriate for high school than junior high. I know it was far from perfect, but I'm so glad Muslim characters are available now for our students to read about.

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