Not The Girls You’re Looking For by Aminah Mae Safi
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Release Date: June 19, 2018
Pages: 336 (327 ARC)
Summary: 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.
*Received ARC through Yallwest*
My Rating: ★★★★☆ ½
My Thoughts: Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a YA Contemporary that explores with such complexity: friendships, love, family, and self-growth! Safi’s debut also seamlessly weaves in humor while navigating a complex and heavy topics!
Through a 3rd person POV, Safi’s debut centers around Leila “Lulu” Saad as she’s continuing to navigate her life + high school with her friends: Audrey, Lo, and Emma by her side!
But aside from high school there’s also family, friendships, and so many different facets to her life that are explored throughout the entire book! From the very beginning Lulu came to life on the page and with each and every moment, Safi continued to develop her character with so much depth!
I loved that there were just–so many different sides of Lulu’s life that are explored and seen throughout.
Friendship is a huge element of this book, obviously seen through Lulu and her core group of friends. As the friendship hits a few bumps along the way, it allows us to explore the complexities of it through Lulu’s eyes as she finds herself attempting to mend the conflict that has driven her friends apart.
Safi tackles the messy aspects of friendship in what I found to be an honest and complex way that is a big element to the story!
With Lulu a bit lost and unsure of how to mend and repair those bonds, it allowed for numerous amounts of page time of seeing Lulu’s complexity and the differing sides of her life!
It really allowed for me to connect to her even more and see her struggle to find a balance with various obstacles that appear as the story progresses.
Lulu was easily my favorite character of the entire book! She’s outgoing, reckless, sarcastic, and some would say “imperfect” but that’s what makes her such an incredible character!
She loves going out to parties, making out with guys, drinking + hanging out with her friends, etc. and I loved how she’s very outgoing and just always willing to have fun!
For me personally, at certain moments it definitely takes time to be very outgoing, but reading about Lulu and how confident she was, was just really inspiring and I just loved reading about a character who’s personality is different than mine but also very much like mine in ways too!
She is very much trying to find a space for herself, both as a biracial teen (white mother & Muslim + Iraqi father) finding where she fits in with her other family members, & overall just on her own.
I loved how Safi explored Lulu’s character and made it such a grounded element to the story!
Family is also a huge aspect to this book as Lulu confronts her uncertainties of her identity as she spends Ramadan with other family members and also explores the complex relationships/dynamics with them.
Additionally, I loved the sibling dynamics explored with her older brothers Ben & Reza. Though they aren’t present for the whole novel, their moments with Lulu are done so well as we see the sibling banter between them and as they try to help Lulu navigate the rift between her friends.
I also loved how integral her parents were! Her relationship with her mother and father is explored so well throughout the entire book. For me I did find the growth and development was slow and gradual and something that really took its time to develop and change, which I loved!
Also the way Safi crafted them as characters, their development/dynamic growth with Lulu and overall through Safi’s writing-style, they really did feel so real and I found them to be so memorable and real!
While there’s definitely memorable parents in YA Contemporary, there’s just something about Safi’s complex writing that added unique layers to Lulu’s parents, Aimee +Ahmed as well!
From family to friendship, Safi makes it clear that there’s so many differing sides and the dynamics and relationships we have with them aren’t just one sided and I loved how she explored that through her writing.
There’s also a character named James who Lulu finds herself falling for and I love how their relationship was developed! She finds herself really opening up to him over the course of the story before + after the obstacles with her friends arise!
She’s very outgoing + bold and it was great seeing that part of her shine through even more as she got to know him!
Plot-wise, it was very unique! There was never a moment where I knew where the plot was going and I found that made this reading experience so great!
From Lulu’s family life, school, celebrating Ramadan, etc. I loved the way Safi developed her plot while also making it both slow and fast paced & having work perfectly for the story!
Not The Girls You’re Looking For also discusses a number of complex/heavy subjects involving consent as it becomes a relevant topic to the overall story.
There’s just so much I loved about this book!! From the amazing focus on family and family dynamics that are so central to the story, importance of finding yourself, and the messy/complex dynamics of friendships!
Overall Not The Girls You’re Looking For is a must read YA Contemporary! It explores numerous topics from friendship, family, self identity, and so much more! Safi navigates the real and messy moments in life, while also balancing with the wonderful and memorable ones too!