You know when a book just leaves you reeling and questioning yourself and your beliefs?
Yeah, Take It Back, by Kia Abdullah, does that.
And I loved it.
Disclaimer: Massive thank you to HQ and NetGalley for the opportunity to review this book. There are affiliate links within this post for which I may receive a commission at no extra cost to you.
Title: Take It Back
Author: Kia Abdullah
Page count: 383
The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses the boys of something unthinkable.
The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.
Whose side would you take?
Zara Kaleel is a former barrister turned victim support officer working to help those who need it most. When she meets Jodie, a neglected sixteen year old with facial deformities accusing four of her classmates of rape, Zara could never predict how much of an impact Jodie’s case would have, not just on her personal life, but across the country. This courtroom drama based thriller will keep you on your toes as you traverse the trial that divides families and the country.
Take It Back covers so many different dynamics.
In any other book, the amount of threads to this story would make it over-complicated and unnecessarily long. There’s religious tensions between Zara, a successful woman exploring the boundaries of faith and the modern world, and her traditional, Muslim family.
The relationship between a successful woman and her not-so-successful older brother in a patriarchal familial structure is also questioned, and is further compounded by a mother who is personally bought in to approve that structure.
There’s racial tensions – the impact of a Muslim woman on the prosecution against four Muslim boys to support a white girl and a questioning of the perception of the place of women of colour in the modern world.
Poverty and it’s links to substance abuse, in this case alcohol, is also touch upon. You’ll also find yourself reflecting on the way disabled people are treated within society.
It all adds up to a book that will make you question your own outlook.
The book is a perfect storm of worlds colliding, of privilege and power, and of degradation, lies and untold truths.
The story constantly changes, keeping you on your toes as you try to reason within your mind who is telling the truth and who will come out as the “bad guy”.
I couldn’t make up my mind as to who was telling truth. I was constantly being pulled one way or the other, waiting for that key piece of information to definitively tell me who was lying.
The amazing things is, no matter how close the book got to the “truth”, something would always pull you away and it’s credit to the author that I kept coming back for more.
Which leads nicely on to…
That ending, though!
Honestly, it blind-sided me. Completely.
I can’t remember the last time a book did that. Now, I’m always a sucker for a false-ending, there’s just something so powerful in the realisation that you have been wrong the entire time.
But this ending… Man, this ending is something else. It’s so devastating and, yet, so real. It feels so familiar and awful and, in the wake of things like the Warwick group chat scandal, it left the bitter taste it was supposed to.
This is one of the very best.
Take It Back is so much more than a crime/thriller – it’s a commentary on societal structures, on privilege and on justice. It explores the very depths of what it is to have power, to have freedom and what it is to tell the truth in the modern world.
Take It Back is out 8 August 2019 and is Kia Abdullah’s first novel. Trust me, you’ll want to preorder this.
As an aside, I’m also ridiculously happy that I seem to be back on the old reviewing buzz. I’m falling in love with writing all over again and it helps massively that I am striking lucky with the books I’m picking up!