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Not the Girls You're Looking For

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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.

336 pages, Hardcover

First published June 19, 2018

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About the author

Aminah Mae Safi

7 books428 followers
Aminah Mae Safi is the author of four novels, including Tell Me How You Really Feel (Feiwel & Friends) and the forthcoming Travelers Along the Way: a Robin Hood Remix (Feiwel & Friends, 2022). She’s an erstwhile art historian, a fan of Cholula on popcorn, and an un-ironic lover of the Fast and the Furious franchise. Her writing has been featured on Bustle and Salon and her award-winning short stories can be found in Fresh Ink (Crown Books) and the forthcoming Freshman Orientation (Candlewick Press, 2023) among others.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 242 reviews
Profile Image for ♛ may.
806 reviews3,792 followers
September 13, 2018
full rant posted

this book was supposed to make me feel represented and instead it gave me a migraine

you know what the saddest thing about this is that I want to support authors of colour, I want to read their books and squeal over them and recommend these books to my friends and family and be like WOW this book was written for me

but that’s rarely happens :) like :) ever :)

so here we are again

DISCLAIMER DISCLAIMER, before y’all @ and subtweet me, im aware that everyone has their own views and practices what they believe and im not dismissing anyone else’s beliefs, but these thoughts are personal to ME so be nice and respect opinions yada yada

Also minor spoilers ahead

Let’s get the positive aspects out of the way first

- the scene where the main character, lulu had to talk to her relatives on the phoNE WAS !!!SPOT ON!!
- yes its that awkward and a tragedy on its own regard
- Dolma™ (stuffed grape leaves) was mentioned a few times and 🙏 🙏 🙏
- if y’all never had dolma, (im weeping for your soul) I suggest you stop reading this review, go grab yourself some and then come back bc we got a long ride ahead of us and there ain’t nothing more comforting than rice stuffed in leaves (I swear it taste better than it sounds)
- I felt the book did explore the struggle lulu faced of not being arab enough and not being American enough really well
- its hard when you don’t fit in on either side and kinda feel like an outcast to everything and everyone around you and I really appreciated how that was discussed
- it did delve into some pretty deep topics of consent, sexual assault, racism, drug use, and under aged drinking
- there were Arabic phrases included into the book and I just found that really really refreshing to see in YA literature


The Characters
- oh man, this is gonna be a long one
- so the characters are all snakes
- Lulu herself is such an awful character
- Shes incredibly rude to her parents, her friends, everyone in her life, FOR NO GOOD REASON
- She literally acts like the universe revolves around her but honey take a seat for a second okay that’s not how it works
- i’m not even dramatizing but lulu’s group of friends are all catty, rude, so. fricken. reckless., arrogant, snobs
- they pretty much hate each other???? why are you friends with people you dislike???? I’m????concerned
- it’s like mean girls but worse
- the female friendships really threw me off bc they’re supposed to be this tightknit, got-your-back-kind of friendship that lasts through the ages, but instead they ditch each other for the simplest of things
- there was no communicating
- there was no understanding
- there was no trust between them
- theyre just so shallow, god it hurt to read
- they definitely grew and came back together for the nice, cute, ending but like??? I didn’t get how, when they were all so toxic for each other
- one of her friends was actively seeing a guy who SHE KNEW had a girlfriend
- Oh my god, its so weird
- Shes 17 and her parents let her get away with the most awful behaviour
- Like they have no input in her life and im like ??!!!???!?!?!?!?!?!??
- She treats them so awfully, disrespects them, and then whenever she wants something its like of course my sweet darling angel child
- My eye is twitching

Islam Rep
- so, im not dismissing anyone or being judgmental in any sense
- muslims are not perfect, every human makes mistakes and that’s how the world works. But when a book is marketed as having a mc who is a ‘biracial Iraqi-american muslim girl’ and nothing about islam is explained or given much weight
- its like ????exucse me????
- For example, Lulu, our mc drinks alcohol, makes out with boys, dates, attends parties, does drugs, etc. and while these things are prohibited for muslims, there’s not a single mention about it
- Im NOT judging her, don’t get me wrong. Like I said earlier, no one is perfect, she can live her life the way she wants, that’s not my business, but the fact that this book is supposed to represent muslims and the Islamic ruling isn’t even MENTIONED makes me frustrated
- And then when Ramadan came around, shes like ‘soz cant drink now’ and her friends are like ??why?? you were drinking with us before and im like yes plz explain it to me too bc im just as lost
- I just feel like for someone who doesn’t know islam well, it might confuse them and give them an incorrect judgement of islam
- I wish she just acknowledged it, that’s literally all I want
- With so many false portrayals of muslims and islam these days, its really sad to see a book supposed to represent it fall so flat
- Lulu as a character is very frustrating for me to see bc I thought I would have so many similarities to her and instead I just felt like I was done dirty
- She never makes reference to the Quran or the Prophet (peace be upon him) or any Islamic belief, its like if I didn’t read it in the synopsis, I wouldn’t have thought she was muslim at all
- Literally the only thing I want is for Muslim rep to be something more than a marketing device can I just get that?

The Story Itself
- From the very beginning, I was thrown off with the writing
- Its written in 3rd person, which I usually LOVE, but this time it was just REALLY hard to get into
- The writing was also really,,,,,,weird??
- This is an actual quote
- “Lulu scooted over and blew on her wet nails. They were blue – blue like the pair of hot pants she’d found once at a thrift store…blue like a shining metallic muscle car, blue like Nightcralwer’s naked, muscular thighs. That was Lulu’s favourite shade of blue.”
- Y’all wanna explain this to me or??
- Exhibit B
- ”…the whole point of his attire was to walk around shirtless, exposing his perfect abs all night, inflicting them on an unsuspecting populace.”
- 🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️🤦‍♀️
- I threw up a little in my mouth
- Also there was this scene where Lulu went to this gathering with all her dad’s arab friends and she was hanging out with the girls and they were so catty and passive aggressive to her and I was actually shook, I did the whole
- description
- Like idk if y’all ever sat with a group of arabs but even if they hate your guts and trash talk you behind your back, in front of you, theyre actually the most hospitable, welcoming, friendly people ever
- This is a fact, you can ask anyone
- Objectively speaking, the plot to me was very all over the place and I wish it focused more on lulu and her struggles of being an Iraqi-american rather than this run around of ‘my friends aren’t talking to me for a very unknown, unnecessary reason’
- I mean, if they just picked up the phone and talked, then it could have been solved in half a page

I commend the author for taking a step in the right direction and being brave enough to write about such personal topics but objectively speaking, as a reviewer, this is how I felt and I want to express it too.

Idk if anyone even cared to read all this, y’all are heroes if you did.

I ran out of words and I need to refill my tea. goodnight everyone


i simultaneously have low and high hopes for this book like this is the rep ive been dying to see in YA but at the same time ive just been disappointed by all arab-rep books up till this point :")

anyways, if the mc doesn't guzzle olive oil, use 'yalla' and 'ya3ni' in every other sentence, or eat dolma at least twice a month, im 1 starring goodbye
500 reviews2,414 followers
July 5, 2018
Not the Girls You're Looking For wasn't what I expected it would be--but that's definitely not a bad thing! It's just that I expected a light, fun read based on the way the synopsis was written, but this book was brutal. It was a tad dark, but it was just so truthful and hit me right in the feels.

I'll admit, the start was a tad slow, and I was iffy about the girl-on-girl hate, but I came to love this book so much, and I definitely want more! Generally, here's what you will LOVE about this book (hopefully) as much as I did:

And even then she was less alone here than she'd believed. Less alone than she'd feared.

1. Character growth!

Lulu's not easily likable. She makes rash choices that don't always make sense. As the story progresses, we get to know her more, and she also discovers more about herself. It's lovely watching her realize that sometimes, we have to lower our pride for the people who are important to us. It's great getting to learn along with her as well.

2. Realistic girl friendships.

The girl-squad in this book features Lulu, Audrey, Lo, and Emma. And to be honest? They're bitches. They're the kind of bitches who talk trash behind people's backs, who don't think about the consequences of their actions.

They have fights, misunderstandings, and all those negative things that come with any friendships. It's natural! I find them to be really authentic teenage girls. I seriously commend the author for showing even the ugly--but truthful--side of girl squads.

3. Awesome family dynamics.

Lulu comes from a mixed family. It was refreshing to see someone try to blend in to a culture they're not from, since I see it all the time when my Chinese relatives marry non-Chinese people. Again, this isn't all kittens and rainbows--we see that it's tough for some people, but it happens!

While Lulu isn't always on the best terms with her extended family (again, totally relatable), the love she has for her immediate family is just amazing. They have ups and downs like we all do, but at the end of the day, family is family. 


James is one of the most adorable leading guys ever. Fine, you won't like him the first time you meet him, but you'll come to love this quirky, sweet, caring guy. The romance definitely takes a backseat since this novel focuses on friendship and family, but it's a side-story you will adore. I wish we had more of it!


Like I said earlier, Lulu comes from a mixed family, so this book champions cultural diversity! We were introduced to Arabic food and practices, which was fantastic. But!!! It also features sexual diversity. One of Lulu's friends is bi, which I appreciated a lot. It took her a while to open up, but when she did, Lulu and the rest of the gang were really supportive of her, and I loved seeing that a lot.

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Profile Image for Fadwa (Word Wonders).
547 reviews3,543 followers
July 4, 2018
I received a review copy in exchange of an honest review

Full review originally posted on my blog: Word Wonders

CW: Dubious consent, sexual assault, racism, underage drinking, drug use, slut shaming, ableist language.

I’ve been absolutely dying to read this book for the longest time so when I saw that Aimee over at Aimee, Always was organising the blog tour, I jumped on the occasion and joined the fun. I read the book as soon as I got it and ended up enjoying it despite a few qualms I had with it.

The writing is fairly simple and yet enjoyable and easy to read, Lulu, the MC’s, voice came through it sharp and clear and I loved that about it. Going into the book, I didn’t know what to expect as the synopsis keeps it pretty vague, when I started reading I didn’t think the story would have a lot of depth to it because it took me a little while to get into it but as I kept on reading I realized I was wrong. Some parts gave me food for thought especially when it came to Lulu exploring her identity and where she fits in two worlds that don’t seem to want nor reject her completely.

Not the Girls You’re looking for is, at its core, a coming of age story. Messy, real and raw. Lulu is trying to find her place on one hand, with her classmates for which she is the muslim kid, and with her relatives on the other hand, who see her as not muslim enough. The cutural disconnection was real, the disconnection from people her age was real. Especially with the story being set in Ramadan (clever choice, in my opinion) where Lulu still went on with her activities as usual but while trying to respect the restrictions that come with the month. And I liked that the message I got out with was that it was okay not to fit completely, and to carve your own space that fits YOU.

Lulu is a biracial Iraqi-American teen with a white christian mom and a muslim Iraqi dad. And she’s so wild and perfectly imperfect. I can’t say I loved her, but I appreciated her, the angst, the sarcasm, the recklessness (because I feel like muslim teens rarely get to have that in fiction). She came off as aggressive and pretentious to most people and I think that a lot of that was due to her lacking that sense of belonging, a defense mecanism if you will. I also appreciated the fact that she was deeply flawed and not particularly religious, as those types of muslim teens tend to be forgotten in narratives eventhough they are not rare.

The main thing I had a problem with is her relationship and interactions with her girl friends. They always seemed to be in conflict with each other and I didn’t really see much support coming from any of them, including Lulu. A lot of the time I wondered why they were friends when they seemed to hate each other, especially when one of them doesn’t respect Lulu’s religious practices, when sometimes they slut shamed each other (and other people) and when they tended to take other people’s words over each others’ and not really trust one another. That took away from my enjoyment of the book but by the end, the way the whole situation was handled showed growth for most of them.

Two type of relationships that I DID like are the siblinghood and the romance. Her banter with her Brothers was lighthearted but real when it needed to be, they weren’t perfect (a pattern in the whole book) but are ultimately there for her at the end. As for her romance with James it was SO CUTE. That boy is adorable, she’s caring, gentle and patient with her. He messes up but owns up to it, apologizes and does better which leads to her opening up to him, a thing that she rarely does.
Not the Girls You’re Looking For is the perfect book if you’re looking for a read that shows just how much teenagehood can be messy and hard, especially for a muslim biracial girl.
Profile Image for Jodi Meadows.
Author 31 books4,628 followers
September 4, 2017
Official comments: NOT THE GIRLS YOU'RE LOOKING FOR is an intense, emotional debut about finding one's place in the world and throwing off labels applied by other people. These are girls with teeth, claws, and hundreds of razor-sharp edges that protect their vulnerable hearts.
Profile Image for alexandra.
229 reviews1,506 followers
September 3, 2020
i'm so in love with these messy friendships and angry girls!!!! *sobs* it took a while to get into it, but once i got the swing of things i didn't want to stop. there isn't much of a plot, but i think that's part of why i enjoyed it more. it reminded me what it feels like to be ~peak teen~ when friends argue, love-hate family thrives, and you're filled with SO MANY EMOTIONS. lulu is so loud and angry and it's so so wonderful!!!!!

diverse rep: arab, muslim, bisexual, lesbian, latina, and so much more
Profile Image for Aimal (The Devils We Find).
507 reviews461 followers
September 27, 2018
DNF at 48%

I really wanted to like this, but I just couldn’t get into it so instead of taking another 10 days to trudge through the second half, I’m just going to DNF.

Not the Girls You’re Looking For has a lot going for it. It centers a biracial Arab-American Muslim teenager during the month of Ramadan. She is fasting throughout the book, and you get to see her home-life, school-life and personal struggles revolve around a month that is so vital to Muslims everywhere but is often glossed over in every book I’ve ever read. What makes it interesting is that Lulu Saad isn’t particularly religious, and she drinks, parties and casually hooks up with boys but she still fasts. I know this is going to rattle some people and make them mad, but I appreciated the author’s candidness because as much as people like to pretend Muslim girls like Lulu Saad do not exist, they very much do and they are just as valid and their stories are just as important to tell.

Another element I appreciated was the centering of female friendships. Much of the book involves Lulu and her friends, their dynamics and stories together and separately. I really liked this in theory, but God, I didn’t know why any of them were friends with each other. Lulu seemed to hate them all, and their relationship felt quippy, petty and off. It didn’t feel supportive, so I couldn’t get behind it at all. Plus, there’s a scene where Lulu’s best friend is complaining about Lulu not drinking during Ramadan, which just rubbed me the wrong way. Her best friend also slut-shames women without being called out for it.

In a similar vein, I didn’t like Lulu whatsoever. I understand that she’s supposed to have a degree of unlikability to her, but there was no dimension to her. There was no self-reflection involved, nobody was calling out her self-centered behavior, and if there was just some more nuance to her unlikability, I would appreciate the book a lot more. But she’s just a dick to everyone from her parents to her friends to her extended family to strangers. I do not like being in the head of someone who is unnecessarily cruel to everybody around her.

There’s also... no plot as far as I read. It’s one of those slice-of-life books where Lulu’s just living her life, and we’re looking into how she lives it. Which is fine, but the writing does not lend itself well to the format. It’s well-written, sure, but it’s so painstakingly detailed. There were so many moments in every chapter where I raised my eyebrow and thought, “Really? Was this necessary to spend a whole paragraph on?” The lack of foreseeable action-climax structure coupled with overbearingly detailed writing made reading this book feel like a chore. And I hate saying that, but there’s no other way to describe it.

Triggers apply for: slut-shaming, sexual assault, racist micro aggressions

I received an ARC of this book via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
Profile Image for chloe ♡.
393 reviews264 followers
July 25, 2019
my read for the third reading rush prompt - read a book you meant to read last year ; this one started out a bit slow for me, but i loved the last few chapters!
Profile Image for kayleigh.
1,734 reviews87 followers
September 14, 2018
1 star.

“He was a boy made to be conquered, maybe even saved. But not by Lulu. She was neither a knight or a Nightingale. She was a girl made to be selfish. She would have her own adventures.”

I'm having a terrible time coming up with my own summary of this book, so here's the Goodreads 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.”

Okay, so. I'm kind of sad that I didn't love Not the Girls You're Looking For, because I really wanted to. The one redeeming quality this book has is that it's diverse and features a Muslim main character (which... I have some problems with, but we'll get into that). Literally, that's it. I didn't like Lulu, the writing style was extremely hard to get into, and the plot is completely missing. I considered DNF'ing this book so many times that I'm surprised I managed to finish it as quickly as I did.

Before I get into why I thought the representation was kind of terrible, I will mention I'm not Muslim. However, based on what I know (and the fact that I read this book with one of my best friends, who IS Muslim, and she agreed with me), I did feel like I should point it out. If you are Muslim, feel free to tell me if you disagree, because this is way more your lane than mine. I always feel a little weird talking about things that aren't completely my place, but I also have a lot of opinions on things I know about. Plus, on a personal level, I'd want someone to point out badly represented Judaism if they were educated about it, at least for the sake of warning people who might want to read said book for the representation.

That being said, I'll just be completely honest: Lulu being Muslim kind of felt like an after thought. She drinks, does drugs, dates, goes to parties, etc., and while I know there are Muslims who do this, it makes very little sense to market your book as one about a Muslim girl when she literally ignores every aspect of her religion. Not to mention, nothing about Islam is explained. Lulu's friends want to know why she can't drink during Ramadan when she drinks all the time (which, fucking valid, you know?), and even that's not explained properly. As I said, I know there are Muslims who do these things, which is totally cool and none of my business, but it's not cool to market a book as Islamic representation and completely forget to include the Islam part.

As for the characters, well, they were all terrible. Lulu was selfish (I chose the quote in the beginning for a reason) and so fucking mean for no reason, and it wasn't fun to read. Even if the writing wasn't awful (which it was), Lulu would've made this book nearly unreadable. She reminds me a lot of Dimple from When Dimple Met Rishi, who was also a selfish, mean, and bitchy character. She treated her parents and friends like complete shit all the time and it was never called out and she was never punished for it. Right. Can't relate.

I won't say much on this because I mentioned it earlier and there's just not a whole lot to say, but where the hell was the plot? Nothing happened and it kind of seemed like there was absolutely no point to this story except to read about how terrible Lulu is to everyone and everything. I'm not even trying to be an asshole about it, I'm just genuinely confused on what the hell this book was actually supposed to be about. From the summary, I suppose it was meant to be a character driven book about a girl who realizes there's more to the world than her little problems and finding out who she is, except there was zero character development, so that can't be it. Who the fuck knows, honestly.

I think I've said all I wanted to say about Not the Girls You're Looking For. Terrible characters, terrible writing, little to no plot, and pretty terrible representation. I wanted to love this book, but it's a huge no from me.
Profile Image for Katy Upperman.
Author 4 books306 followers
September 29, 2017
1. aMaZiNg characterizations. I’ve been searching for one perfect adjective to describe Lulu and her girl friends and… I don’t think there is one? They’re fierce yet vulnerable, confident yet afraid, always exuberant, and so very real. There are some A+ parents plus a pretty great boy, too. ❤
2. Enviable prose. This is one of those novels chock full of passages you’ll want to read over and over again, because they are either lovely, or sharply insightful, or darkly funny.
3. Feminism for the win. I can’t wait to hand this book to my daughter in a few years. Its girls are complicated, and they make mistakes, and they do risky things. But they champion each other in ways that consistently warmed my heart. Pick up a copy of Not the Girls You’re Looking For next summer!
Profile Image for Aminah Safi.
Author 7 books428 followers
June 25, 2018
Darling, Lulu. I didn't know you'd get to breath fresh air and take up shelf space when I wrote you. I got you wrong so often in that first draft. But I kept plugging away and you took on shape and you took on life and here you are out in the world. I'm so proud of how messy and vulnerable and angry and hopeful you are. I let you do your worst, and in turn, you showed me your best. Your growth and determination. Your love and your humor.

Anyways, this is me being a sap and telling you my first novel is OUT NOW IN THE WORLD please go check it out-- buy it, check out copies from the library, post a review on here or on Amazon, too, if you've already read (the perennial favorite-- item arrived as expected is always appreciated) 💜💜💜
Profile Image for Lara Kareem.
Author 4 books93 followers
June 20, 2018
Not the Type of Girls You're Looking for is that book that is going to creep up on you, that you won't expect to like but at the end, you'll end up loving it so bad, the story stays with you forever. This story is hell-bent on kicking stereotypes to hell, and judgemental asses to the curb.

The story starts off slow and then you're going to be like wth? Are these characters, these girls alright... These girls are messy and I was constantly thinking wtf is going on, but as the story, progressed so did my interest and I couldn't not finish it. It was that good. Some actions in the book have me cringing and there are places which had me creasing because I can relate to Lulu, she's Muslim me and her friendship with her girls is as bad and as great as my own was with my besties in secondary school. But that's where it ends cause Lulu is one hell of a ballsy character.

Our main protagonist is Lulu Saad, she's a half Arab Muslim girl. She is as beautiful as they come, she knows it and owns it. She's a girl who takes pride in being a girl and won't stand for any misogynistic or sexist actions or speech. She will own your ass and put you in your place.

She doesn't quite fit in with the rest of the Arabs in her community because her mum isn't Arab, I swear I don't know why some people are so mean and stuck up to their own people, people you're meant to embrace, and take as your brothers and sisters. This treatment has a major effect on her sense of identity and of course, it's nothing good when people have made you feel like you're an imposter.

Lulu isn't perfect, she is so flawed and I love that about her. She jumps from one bad decision to another that has a dramatic domino effect on her life and you've just got to accept that all of the girls Lulu, Emma, Lo and Audrey are so flawed. Their actions will have you facepalming, you'll get mad at every single girl. They are assholes, and the assholery will get to new heights that they can't even stand each other, but nonetheless, are still there for each other, because they care for each other and they work. The four girls are the type of girls who have huge personalities, that can't help but clash, but it works as each of them have what they add to the relationship and are always there for each other when it counts.

I could tell you about the girls, but what's the fun in that, I'll let you find out about the personality traits all by yourself, nope not getting spoilers out of me.

What you need to know is, these girls aren't naive, they are growing and they are learning to be better people, cause as the story progresses they get more aware of how their actions affect others and they want to be better, even if it's messy getting there. The self-discovery is spot-on.

Lulu's family dynamic is eccentric and wonderful, I loved her interactions with her parents and her brothers. It's not perfect, but I love the honesty, I love what the story is preaching about it, be forthcoming with your parents, 90% of the time LOL. Cause it's good to have your parents on your side. Aimee Saad is mothering goals. I seriously love her.

There are people in the book though, yeah the privileged and you're just going to be like oh why did they get off so easy for being racists, homophobic and sexist maggots, but if you really think about it, a lot of racist get off easy because of the privlege they have and how it protects them and keeps them locked in a bubble of trash self-importance and a superiority complex, when there's not one thing that is good or will ever be good about them if they continue the way they are, which unfortunately is the MO for all racists.

Then you have the wonderful boys James and Matt, who you just can't help but like, I swear.

This is one story that has been executed so well because at the end it all comes together and makes sense, you understand why the protagonists are the way they are, you see it for yourself. You can't help but love it and if you DNF this book without even getting 30% in then your opinion is invalid. Yes, I said it.
Profile Image for Brooke — brooklynnnnereads.
1,004 reviews244 followers
July 16, 2018
Unfortunately, this was just not the story for me.

From the start, I felt somewhat out of sorts as I felt the story began abruptly without an introduction of any kind. At one moment, I even questioned whether I was reading a sequel due to the beginning of this novel. I like novels that begin with a quick pace but for this one, I felt that it was too quick and as if the reader was supposed to already know the background and these characters.

As for the characters, that was another issue that I had with this novel. I didn't really like.....any of them. If I had to choose a favourite character, I probably would choose Matt because of his humour (he's a character that we rarely read about, in case you don't know). The main group of characters came across too much like the cast of "Mean Girls" and maybe that was the intention, but I didn't enjoy that aspect.

Another odd component of this novel was the character's maturity/immaturity. To me, these characters (specifically the main character of Lulu) came across as immature for the age of sixteen. I understand that teenagers can be immature, but she came across as unrealistically dramatic and immature. However, in contrast, some of the events going on came across as very mature. Examples would be: the casual amount of drinking, keglers, mentions of "vaping", etc. I don't know. I understand that may be the average experience for some in high school but it wasn't the average experience for me (or for many others that I know).

This novel did contain messages regarding consent, individuality, religion, sexuality, ethnicity, safe sex, and drugs/alcohol that were important. It was a diverse novel, I will admit that. However, I wish that it was done in a better way. I unfortunately felt that a lot of the problematic issues of this novel were dealt with casually and I wouldn't necessarily recommend or want other teenagers to read this thinking that this is the average high school experience.

***Thank you to Raincoast Books for sending me an ARC of this novel in exchange for an honest review***
Profile Image for Samantha (WLABB).
3,430 reviews234 followers
June 11, 2018
Not the Girls You're Looking For was a look at one girl's struggle with self identity and complex relationships, which was very thoughtful, witty, and honest.

The Good

•Lulu was a force to be reckoned with! She was interesting and complicated, and I never knew what to expect from her. To others, she seemed so tough, but that was only on the outside. Inside she was nursing wounds, grappling with personal demons, and slowly unraveling.

•Safi's exploration of Lulu's inner struggle of not be white enough or arab enough was quite compelling, and made my heart ache a little for Lulu. It's hard enough trying to navigate one's teen years without gaining more scrutiny for being biracial.

•I loved all the infusion of cultural and religious aspects Safi put into this story. Setting the book during Ramadan allowed the author to share so much about this important month on the Muslim calendar, and I really enjoyed visiting with all Lulu's "family". I especially adored the wedding, because I felt totally immersed in Lulu's joy during this event.

•I am such a fan of female friendships, and this was quite a special one. Lulu's group was diverse and each young woman brought something to the group. When they were together, there was a synergy, and the group could take on any challenge. Safi explored the complex nature of this group, and she showed them at their best and their worst.

•There are quite a few lackluster males in this story, but there were also some really wonderful ones. I was such a fan of Lulu's father and brothers, as well as James.

•Lulu's mother was pretty incredible. She stood by her husband and supported his culture, despite the fact that she was not accepted into his world. She worked towards blending her culture with her husband's and passing this onto her children. She had her ups and downs with Lulu during this story, and there were a few mama bear moments, but not once did I question her love for Lulu.

•A lot of ideas were touched upon with respect to relationships, consent, loyalty, family, culture, and personal responsibility, which I really enjoyed.

The Not So Good
• This story had very little plot. It's mostly about Lulu's personal journey, and sometimes seemed to wander, but it really did not detract from my enjoyment.


A wonderful story of self discovery, friendship, and family, which was filled with astute observations and warmed my heart.

*ARC provided in exchange for an honest review.

Profile Image for Shealea.
441 reviews1,200 followers
October 1, 2020
This is easily one of the most difficult book reviews I’ve ever had to write because I have plenty of mixed feelings about Not the Girls You’re Looking For that make expressing my opinion just a tad more complicated.

While I eventually learned to appreciate many aspects of this story, its beginning was rough, slow, and oftentimes confusing and this continued to drag on for a significant portion of the whole book. There was a lot of weirdly written dialogue that showed no direction and came across as unnatural, making it difficult for me to follow and to understand what was happening.

Speaking of, I don’t think anything was actually happening in the first part of the book. The opening half of Not the Girls You’re Looking For was littered with mundane, directionless scenes that collectively did not constitute an observable plot. The experience felt like watching fish swim in an aquarium; that is, I was introduced to a group of friends and had to read about them navigating through their everyday lives in their natural habitats, but nothing about their lives or their environments was engaging at all.

It was around 54% of the book that Not the Girls You’re Looking For started becoming more interesting and more bearable. The sudden one-eighty turn that the story took on definitely made up for the incredibly weak and frustrating first half. For one thing, the storyline began to move along at a faster, more compelling pace, and as events progressed, it became clearer to me what ideas the story was trying to tackle. In line with this, the unlikely female friendships were developed more dimensionally, and by the end of it all, I was actively cheering for Lulu and her friends.

Overall, I have an incredibly turbulent hate-to-love relationship with this novel. My reading experience was filled with an extensive range of strong emotions that was easily spurred on by Aminah Mae Safi’s effectively evocative writing style. There was a lot of beauty held within eloquent passages, but at the same time, the author was blatantly unafraid to show the uglier, crueler, and upsetting side of things. In doing so, socially relevant messages about existing inequalities and realities were effectively broadcast, as well as important themes of love, friendship, and learning from mistakes. Not the Girls You’re Looking For was definitely an unforgettable read: unapologetically messy, hauntingly real, brilliantly snarky, but ultimately, poignant and timeless.

Disclosure: I received a digital ARC of Not the Girls You’re Looking For (via NetGalley) as part of my participation in a blog tour. This neither affects my opinion nor the content of my review. Thank you very much to the blog tour organizer (Aimee @ Aimee, Always) as well as the publisher for the opportunity!

🌻🍃 More bookish content on Shut up, Shealea 🍃🌻
Profile Image for Allison.
651 reviews2 followers
March 17, 2018
So clearly I'm in the minority so far, but this book was like a 2.75/3 stars for me.

First off, what I did like:
1) Yay, a Muslim main character! Well, a 16 year old high school girl who just happens to be Muslim and fasting for Ramadan.
2) The culturally blended family! Lulu's mom is white and southern, and I love the way that she... seemingly gracefully and like a normal human person... takes on and supports the culture of her husband's family, even though she's not fully included
3) The MC who feels in between - never fully American and never fully part of her father's culture either
4) The Arabic. There's the actual text of Muslim prayers in Arabic written out, and short explanations family traditions that have been syncretized. There's also a lot of greeting and small discussions in Arabic, which are only partially translated (a good thing).

In terms of diversity and representation, this book was a total win. It was subtle - it wasn't like some other books, where the author/MC is like hey, here's a book about the challenges of being a Muslim teenager. This was a book about a very believable teenager who happened to be Muslim, so many of the background details of her life were influenced by that fact.

Anyway, what I didn't like as much: I was bored. For more than 3/4 of the book. It was just too much teenage angst and friendship complication for me. I really liked the first 10% and the last 10%, but the middle... I found myself skimming and wishing it were over. I usually love YA, but this was more... teenagery... than I am used to. So it wasn't for me. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to someone who was actually in high school, though.
Profile Image for Maraia.
470 reviews173 followers
September 4, 2018
This is an important book that about feeling split between two cultures and trying to figure out how to fit in. In addition to addressing racism and multiculturalism, the book also deals with safe sex and violence against women. It is a feminist, sex-positive, girl-power story that I hope will empower many teen girls. It’s one of only two YA contemporaries I can think of that actually portrays a visit to a gynecologist, which is amazing to see. Only two things stopped me from giving a full 5-star rating. One is the fact that I struggled to connect with the boy-chasing, party hard aspect of the main character’s personality. That doesn’t mean Lulu’s story isn’t a realistic or valid one, it’s just very different from my own high school experience. I also disliked the frequent use of the word “bitch,” especially when used by girls to put down other girls and women.
Profile Image for julianna ➹.
207 reviews263 followers
Want to read
April 11, 2021
i love the fact that after starting this audiobook i went to goodreads and saw that exactly Two of my gr friends rated this book higher than 3 stars, what a disconcerting experience
Profile Image for Morgan Avalyn.
Author 2 books28 followers
May 19, 2018
"You aren't who anyone decides you are. You aren't how anyone treats you. You have to find peace in that."

A book of deeply flawed, sharp-clawed, and relatable girls, especially the main character Lulu. This book ripped me open and handed me a mirror to see, before sewing up the wound and kissing it better. I cheered and held the book to my chest with a grin on my face when I finished, unable to contain my joy. Some parts made me laugh, some made me swoon, some made me cry. I love this book to pieces.

TW: sexual assault/harassment

The main character does deal with sexual assault and harassment on page in this book, so be careful, but I felt it was dealt with in a realistic and healing way.
Profile Image for Rachel.
Author 10 books56 followers
May 23, 2018
Lately, Lulu has been screwing everything up. Her three best friends are all pulling apart at the seams, an almost accidental drowning at a party has her grounded for life (or at least the remainder of Ramadan), and she finally snaps at one of the aunties for saying something that—as it turns out—she didn’t even say. So, yeah, Lulu’s life is a bit complicated. But she’s determined to set things right, because as painful as it is to admit you’re wrong—or that you’ve been wronged—there are some things that make it worth it. Like friendship and family…and maybe even the cute new boy she almost accidentally didn’t drown at that party.

I really, really enjoyed this YA novel about friendship, owning who you are, and learning to be the bigger person—but still maybe get a little revenge along the way. Lulu and her three best friends are unrepentant “assholes,” girls who get to be snarky and independent and imperfect and, yeah, a little mean without apology. They’re all complicated and nuanced in ways that make for really great dynamics. The girls feminism—and the feminist message of the book overall, that girls should get to be whoever they want to be, and to be as imperfect and complicated and brash as boys—was so refreshing.

And the fact that this book is about a Muslim, Arab American girl, set during Ramadan, and prioritizes lots of different kinds of love and relationships? Lovely. Plus, the fact that the title is a bit of a Star Wars reference? Even more marks in its favor.

But my absolute favorite part of this book was the loyalty and depth of the friendship between Lulu, Lo, Audrey, and Emma. As someone who grew up with three best girl friends myself, I always long to see that kind of profound and nuanced female friendship in books—and so rarely do. But finally here is a book that gets it! Seeing these four girls support and protect each other, hurt each other and learn how to apologize, grow, and forgive each other, was refreshing. That kind of friendship is such a powerful thing and so rarely depicted—and especially depicted well—in media. And getting to read a story where girls prioritized each other over relationships, while also supporting each other’s romantic relationships, was so, so lovely.

This is a wonderful book about a girl in the in-between spaces of life. In-between two cultures, in-between childhood and adulthood, in-between making mistakes and making up for them. But ultimately it’s about how she learns to own that in-betweenness and own who she is. And that’s a beautiful thing.

**Thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for providing me with an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.**
Profile Image for Rin.
158 reviews9 followers
July 13, 2021
Oh man... I tried but sadly this author is just not for me.
I've read Amina Safi's Tell me how you really feel which is YA sapphic romance with POC representation. I was really excited since it has all the elements and reps I usually look for in YAs. But that book just felt flat for me :/ and this is absolutely the same case for this book too.

It's a YA, with Muslim representation, tackling racism. It was not poorly written nor the pacing was bad but, you know when you just don't vibe with mc? Yeah..the mc was hella rude. I did not like her at all. She was rude to her parents, her attitude toward others in general were rude, her friends were hella toxic. Somehow I felt the toxic friendship was normalised in this. So in conclusion it was just not for me.
Profile Image for Deborah.
588 reviews1 follower
October 7, 2018
I don't really end up enjoying this. There were some solid moments i really enjoyed but overall I just didn't click with any of the characters.
Profile Image for Suzanne (The Bookish Libra).
881 reviews95 followers
July 21, 2018
3.5 Stars. I loved the focus on female friendships but at times, it didn’t feel like much was going on in terms of plot.
Profile Image for Cathy.
587 reviews3 followers
February 25, 2018
This book comes out in June, 2018.
Slow start but about 1/4 of the way in, it just starts steam rolling forward. If John Hughes had written one of his 80's rom coms with a quartet of girls as the main characters, this would be it.
Profile Image for Chantal Aurora.
405 reviews119 followers
February 10, 2019
“Queens, Lulu-cat. We've crowned ourselves. We run ragged as we please. The only people who tell us what to do are each other.”

4.5 stars
I love this book with every fiber of my being. It is so close to being a 5-star read, I docked half a star for lack of a plot. The conflict and resolutions were a bit weak as well. The timeline of this book was murky it would casually mention it was freshmen year then not much later it was sophomore year. Then it skips to them being juniors and going to prom? I wish she had picked one year and had everything happen in that year instead of skipping ahead so often without so much as an afterthought. It also took me about 100 or so pages to really get into it.

Not the Girls You're Looking For is a glimpse into the day to day life of an Arab American Muslim teenager, filled with witty/hilarious banter, profound moments, an exploration of identity, faith, friendship, family and growing up. I found myself wanting to highlight everything. The writing is exquisite and is brimming with gems in every chapter.

I loved the heartwarming family and friendship dynamics. Lulu is very close to her family, I really enjoyed learning about her father who is a history professor and gives impromptu history lectures. Her mother who is very southern and doesn't always understand Lulu but loves her nonetheless. She has two older brothers they only show up briefly but, I adored their banter and camaraderie. Lulu has a tight-knit fierce friendship group. All of them love each other and look out for each other. They are like sisters and they wouldn't hesitate to go to hell and back for each other. I adored seeing such a beautiful representation of healthy female friendships and how meaningful and important they were for everyone in the group.

Lulu and some of her friends throughout the book talk about having casual hookups with guys. Lulu eventually does start a serious relationship with a guy but initially, she's not interested at all in dating. I really appreciated seeing this, not every teenager or young adult wants a serious relationship, this was handled very well and when slut-shaming came about it was challenged beautifully.

Other than the amazing family and friend dynamics my other favorite parts were when Lulu was talking about what it means to be Arab American, and what it means to be biracial.
“I can't go around proving I'm American to everyone I meet. That's too exhausting. And, I'm Arab too. It's in-between. I'm in between. It doesn't come with a neat package or a support group. It just is. I can't change it. And even If I could, I wouldn't.
I don't fit. And sometimes that's the worst-knowing I'll never fit; nowhere will ever feel comfortable and nowhere will ever accept me all the way.”

As a language nerd, I really appreciated when she talked about the differences in Arabic and English.
"English, unlike Arabic, was not a poetic language. English had been cobbled together by too many unknown parents, too many unsure users. English lacked the single word that differentiated an attacking lion from one at rest. Nor did English have the capacity to relay the succinct, linguistic separation of a maternal uncle from a paternal one. English was not a thoughtful language."

All in all, this was marvelous, heartwarming, profound, hilarious and real. I cannot believe this is a debut novel.
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