“What they will lose are concrete things: a place in college, maybe a future job. What I have lost can’t be seen. I’ve lost my courage, my confidence, my belief that I can have a good life.”
I finished reading Take It Back by Kia Abdullah this past weekend, and have been trying to gather my thoughts on the story. This book destroyed me though, and I’m still not sure what to do with myself!
Take It Back is a courtroom drama. I’d never read a book within this specific genre before, but Kia Abdullah has set the bar high. This story is unsettling, emotional, and has enough twists and hints written in subtle language that you’ll be on the edge of your seat until the very end.
It follows the case of Jodie Wolfe, a teenage girl with facial deformities, who accuses four male classmates of raping her. To add another layer of controversy, Jodie is white, and the four boys are from a small Muslim community. (The story itself takes place in London, England.)
Jodie seeks help from Zara Kaleel, a former barrister who uses her legal knowledge to work as a counsellor at Artemis House: a sexual assault referral centre. She takes on Jodie’s case, and does everything within her power to help her seek justice. As a result, Zara is thrown into a different controversy: that of a Muslim lawyer helping a white client charge four young, Muslim teenagers from hardworking, immigrant families. This narrative is woven throughout the main story line, and creates another intense element to the story as a whole.
The case has a lot of “he-said-she-said,” but also takes a closer look at all the characters involved. What they’re going through at home, how they interact with others, and everything they tell to the police and lawyers. As a reader, you’re left to decide who is telling the truth, but the decision is not simply black and white.
Despite the subject matter of this book, I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. The writing was fast-paced, and didn’t include any legal jargon. The characters were well-developed, and although some of them made me very angry, I still wanted to know what happened to them.
Take It Back addresses issues of misogyny, race, religion, and the sometimes unfair legal system. It also illustrates how difficult legal processes can be for victims, and why many people decide not to move forward in similar situations.
One quote in particular really stood out for me:
Women aren’t born warriors; we learn to fight because we have to.
While this book has a powerful message and I really enjoyed it, I can understand how it would be difficult for others to read. If you’re looking for a dramatic, legal story filled with twists and turns, check this one out. If the subject matter might not be for you, that’s okay too!
Thank you to Harper Collins Canada for a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Take It Back was released on August 8, 2019, and is available wherever books are sold.