TBR Thursdays: Anything But Okay by Sarah Darer Littman

Hiya everyone, it’s Sarah!

While perusing the Good Reads recommendations, I came across this novel. I thought I would give it a try, since it had the realistic fiction aspect that seemed interesting and I had read and enjoyed this author before in the past.

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Stella has been convinced by her best friend Farida to run for junior class president. While Farida would rather run for the position herself, her parents wouldn’t allow it because of the bullying that Farida experiences for being Muslim. Stella tries to be sensitive to her friend’s experiences, but can never fully understand them. However, as Stella begins to get hate because she is friends with Farida, she begins to have a better understanding of what her bestie goes through on a daily basis. Stella’s run for presidency becomes even tougher when a violent incident happens at the mall. Stella’s brother recently returned from a tour of duty and he is experiencing symptoms of PTSD. While their trip to the mall was supposed to be something fun to get him out of the house, he became violent with one of Stella’s classmates when they were harassing a worker of color. Now Stella’s brother is being targeted by the media and people are calling him a terrorist. Stella is having trouble coping with the negative environment she finds herself in, especially because her best friend is tired of her not getting it.


There is too much going on in this story. The author is trying to focus on too many afterschool special problems, which takes the focus away from her main themes and point. While all of the plot arcs could be realistically present, they should not all be the focus of this book. Characters were not as developed as I would have liked and the interactions between characters, especially between Farida and Stella, to feel more authentic. This book would have worked better as a middle grade novel because they characters truly felt like junior high students. I think if it had been reframed this way, the book would have worked better.


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