Take it Back by Kia Abdullah
Release Date - December 8, 2020
I can't admit to having too much of a clue as to what it's like being Muslim in a country like England or the U.S. I've only seen snippets of other people's behavior while taking a Muslim college student around my state. A handful of Vermonters showed their racist attitudes. That little peek saddened me, and I only saw little pieces here and there. That helped shape my opinions in Take It Back.
Zara Kaleel is one of the best lawyers in London, but she left her high-income career to do something of value. She now helps women at a sexual assault center. When a disfigured white teen comes into the center claiming to have been raped by four Muslim teens, Zara jumps in to help this teen get justice. It also means turning her back on her own culture, something that doesn't set well with the local Muslim community.
Jodie Wolfe is 16 and used to gossip and cruel treatment due to her medical condition. She has neurofibromatosis (Elephant Man's Disease) and her misshapen facial features draw negative attention. Few, including Jodie's best friend, believe Jodie's telling the truth. Add in the racial aspect that pits a white girl against four Muslim boys from upstanding families and it's going to be a trial of the century.
From the beginning, I found Take It Back to be so heartbreaking from so many perspectives. You have the boys who claim they're innocent and come off as very believable. You have Jodie who may or may not be lying with every word she mutters. You have Zara who is torn knowing the cultural impact this trial will have, but she also has to do her job.
I found myself hooked from the start and didn't finish until I'd completed the final page. It's not an easy read. It can be pretty graphic. It's also one of the best books I've read in 2020. Kia Abdullah makes it to the top of my must-read list with this legal suspense.