Summary: Lulu Saad is the type of girl doesn’t need anyone’s advice, especially with her three best friends by her side. At least that’s what she thought until she almost drowned a cute guy and made a scene during Ramadan that caused more damage than usual. With her friendships and family alliances on the line, Lulu needs to find her way out this mess soon, which may mean looking for herself first.
My Rating: 3.5/ 5 Stars
Early reviews for Aminah Mae Safi’s Not the Girls You’re Looking For Caught my attention, with much praise for the book’s biracial American Muslim protagonist. This YA contemporary debut definitely surprised me. The main character, Lulu, and her best friends deal with more serious issues than I realized upon reading the synopsis.
From the start, Not the Girls You’re Looking For sets a dark tone, as Lulu and her best friends party, drink, and hook-up with guys. I appreciate the book’s not-so unique cast, from Lulu’s mixed heritage to a certain character’s sexuality and finally, the fact that Lulu and her friends are certainly not perfect. However, the girls’ dynamic and personalities threw me off, as they often antagonize one another and drink or smoke through their issues at parties. While they each experience some character development towards the end of the book and I appreciate that they aren’t your typical YA cast, I had trouble connecting to them and the first half of the book.
Although it takes place in America, Not the Girls You’re Looking For reminded me of Tanaz Bhathena’s A Girl Like That. Both books feature Muslim characters and they both have descriptive writing styles. However, I do admit that I had trouble connecting to Aminah Mae Safi’s writing. While this isn’t true for every contemporary book I read, I find that I can often fly through contemporary books compared to heavier-reads, like fantasy. I felt like I was trudging through the first half of Not the Girls You’re Looking For, and I often found myself rereading passages to understand what was happening, like an important scene with Lulu and Dane. Even after finishing, I feel like I need to go back and reread to understand the full picture.
However, Not the Girls You’re Looking For did pick up halfway through, largely because there was more action, more of Lulu’s family, and Lulu’s realization that her relationships are in desperate need of fixing. I really enjoyed spending time with Lulu’s family and seeing her appreciation for her culture and religion. Lulu definitely experiences more character growth in the second half, which helps the reader like this unlikeable character a lot more. I also enjoyed her relationships with Matt and James, easily the most healthy of her friendships. I am extremely jealous of the proximity of a beignet shop to Lulu’s school (my college town needs one ASAP, please).
Overall, I enjoyed Not The Girls You’re Looking For for featuring diverse and unique characters and for being a darker story, but the first half of the book was slow and I had trouble connecting with the characters
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