Monday, June 11, 2018

Blog Tour: Not the Girls You're Looking For - Aminah Mae Safi

Not the Girls You're Looking For
Amina Mae Safi
Series: n/a
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
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.

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 received in exchange for an honest review.

"Lulu," he said. "That's got to be short for something."

Lulu sighed. "Leila. It's short for Leila."

And, right on cue, the boy began to wail, "Leiiiilaaaaa," like he was Eric Fucking Clapton. He looked over, a grin spreading across his face until it crinkled into the corners of his eyes. He caught Lulu's eye. The singing immediately stopped. "Bad call?"

"Absolutely horrendous."

"Horrendous? Why horrendous?" But there was no demand in his tone. "Please."

Lulu turned over onto her side to face him fully. He just looked at her, his face wide and open. Her pretty smile fell. Raw honesty wasn't something Lulu got much of in her neck of the woods. She stared, waiting for the sarcastic bite, the playful joke to his words. The light from the pool glimmered across his face. And his round, unflinching eyes just kept on staring. As if the rabbit could transfix the snake.

"I've never wanted any man on his knees, not really. Or worrying some kind of ease, or whatever the lyric is. I dunno. I don't wanna be Leila, or Carmen, or Belle de Jour. I just want to be me. Without some dude strumming a guitar or writing an opera or filming a movie trying to tell me how to do that. The singing reminds me that no matter what I go by somebody is gonna step in and remind me what some obsessed asshole thinks of my name. Reminds me that Clapton’s Leila is cruel and Bizet’s Carmen dies. So Lulu. That's me. It's mine. And it's just as real as any other fiction. No serenade required." Lulu took a deep breath. She'd managed to run out of air by the end of her confession. She didn’t expect him to understand, because the only person who really got it was Lo.

"Okay, Lulu," he said. "I'm James."

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Aminah Mae Safi is a Muslim-American writer who explores art, fiction, feminism, and film. She loves Sofia Coppola movies, Bollywood endings, and the Fast and Furious franchise. She’s the winner of the We Need Diverse Books short story contest. Originally raised in Texas, she now lives in Los Angeles, California, with her partner, a cat bent on world domination, and another cat who’s just here for the snacks.



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Do you have a favorite book featuring a female friendship?
Let us know in the comments!


  1. I'm glad the overall lack of plot didn't deter you from enjoying this one! I do love books with good female friendships.


    1. It really didn't, because the characters kept me interested and coming back for more.

  2. I’m glad you liked it. I need more plot in my stories but I am becoming more character driven so maybe I’d like it after all.

    1. I feel like most contemporaries are light on plot, but I love taking the journey with the characters, if they are well written, and Safi gave us some great characters in this book.

  3. Hooked! Oh my gosh--that excerpt has me wanting more of James and Lulu!

    This book sounds super unique and i can't wait to give it a try!

    1. That scene was at a party near the beginning of the book, and really made me want to know more about Lulu.

  4. This book was already on my TBR. I love the premise and take away from this book.

    1. I sort of love these "outsider" stories, because I think everyone has felt like they were on the outside at some point in their lives and could relate to that part of Lulu's story.

  5. This one is new to me but it sounds so good. I especially like that it features a strong female friendship. Adding this to my TBR now :)

    1. I am so glad to see all these books featuring female friendships, and I appreciate that Safi shows this friendship in an honest way, because relationships are hard, and we should see that in books too.

  6. I love the sound of the friendship dynamics in this one. I love the sound of Lulu and can't wait to meet her!

    1. The friendship was very real. It was messy and had its ups and downs, but in the end, these girls were there for each other.

  7. I normally go for more plot-driven books, but this sounds like a fun coming-of-age story!

    1. I am good with character driven stories, and though this book is not plot heavy, a lot happens.

  8. Hmmm, a personal journey story can definitely work in the right author's hands -- and this sounds like it definitely did. Can I just say how joyous the cover looks? It just makes me smile!

    1. Lulu grew tremendously and was a better person at the end of the book, and I love the cover too. I think it captures Lulu's spirit, because she had a lot of life and joy inside herself, it just needed a way out.

  9. It's been ages since I last read a YA contemporary, but this one is calling to me! I love the combo of a tough and vulnerable heroine, and Lulu sounds really lovable. Strong family dynamics are also a win in my mind!

    1. Lulu's good qualities are slowly revealed, and by the end of the book, I loved her.

  10. I honestly don't need a whole lot of plot if the characters intrigue me. This sounds like one where it would be fun to just follow along the character's journey.

    1. I read a ton of contemporaries, and feel most of the books have little plot, other than the character growing, but I like seeing how other people live and they deal with things and how they learn from their experiences, and Lulu had an interesting journey.

  11. I'm on the fence with this one, but I'm usually a fan of contemporaries, so chances are that I would like this one! It's great to hear that the friendships are complex. I think I would like a bit more plot in my stories, but I usually get attached to characters pretty easily. Great review Sam! :)

    1. These relationship were so messy and realistic and really make you think about how you hurt the ones you love.

  12. I love books like this that have lots of cultural details in them. It always feels like a trip that you never have to leave home for. I am definitely interested in this one and look forward to finding out more about Lulu. :)

    1. I was especially fond of things that were specific to her family. They way her mom and dad tried to meld their cultural and religious beliefs.

  13. I don't really mind books having no plot as I am a character driven reader. The main character sounds like she really develops and goes through her struggles. I've been thinking about reading this one.

    1. I am also a character driven reader, and what is most vital for me is that I like the character and that the character grows over the course of the book. Lulu ticked off both those requirements for me. She was a very complex and engaging character. I enjoyed getting to be part of her journey.