I was granted complimentary eARC access to Take It Back by Kia Abdullah from the publisher via NetGalley, but unfortunately I didn’t end up finding the time to read and review before publication date. Encouraged by a group blog partner’s fierce love for this title, I sought out the audiobook via Libby last week so that I could finally get through this one despite my still too-busy schedule. On one hand, I’m so glad I listened to the audiobook because the narratorss voices and handling of the languages and accents needed in this book were such a pleasure to listen to. (I absolutely love the cadence of Indian languages and how native speakers bring that to their English!) On the other hand, I’m now devastated that I didn’t get the opportunity to be part of the pre-release cheering squad for this amazing book.
About the Book
Take It Back
Zara Kaleel Book One
by Kia Abdullah
Published 8 December 2020
by St. Martin’s Press
First published 8 August 2019
Genre: Crime Thriller
Page Count: 304
Audio Length: 11 hours 20 minutes
Narrated by Sartaj Abdullah, Sophie Bentinck & Tania Rodrigues
Add it to your Goodreads TBR!
From author Kia Abdullah, Take It Back is a harrowing and twisting courtroom thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page is turned.
Who is telling the truth?
Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest legal minds, shattered the expectations placed on her by her family and forged a brilliant legal career. But her decisions came at a high cost, and now, battling her own demons, she has exchanged her high profile career for a job at a sexual assault center, helping victims who need her the most. Victims like Jodie Wolfe.
When Jodie, a sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, accuses four boys in her class of an unthinkable crime, the community is torn apart. After all, these four teenage defendants are from hard-working immigrant families and they all have proven alibis. Even Jodie’s best friend doesn’t believe her.
But Zara does–and she is determined to fight for Jodie–to find the truth in the face of public outcry. And as issues of sex, race and social justice collide, the most explosive criminal trial of the year builds to a shocking conclusion.
My Rating: 5 Stars
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Take It Back is the story of Zara Kaleel, Jodie Wolfe, and a quartet of Muslim schoolboys in modern-day London. Zara, a former barrister of a more prestigious station, who now works for a non-profit defending victims of sexual crimes. Jodie Wolfe is a white teen with a severe facial deformity and an alcoholic single mother who resents her. When Jodie shows up in Zara’s office claiming to have been assaulted by four of her Muslim classmates, Zara finds herself trapped between her duty as the legal council of a victim and the hostile ire of her own Muslim community who see her stance on the case as an act of betrayal.
This is a very emotional book that doesn’t shy away from the gruesome details one expects in a case like the one presented, but everything is handled so delicately. The writing is graceful and gentle, yet brutally honest, and it’s easy to empathize with every single character introduced. Due to the grotesque nature of the crimes being tried in this book, it is pertinent to mention trigger warnings for rape, child abuse / alcoholic parent, immigrant struggles, and murder. With that said, I do feel that these issues were handled with enough care and sensitivity that I would not discourage fellow survivors from reading this book, provided you’re personally ready to explore stories with this sort of content. I did not feel that I was any more uncomfortable or distressed while reading this book than the average reader is supposed to be.
My only complaint is that there are two male non-relative characters in Zara’s life who fill different roles and needs in her life, but I wasn’t always completely sure which one had shown up at times. One is a lover, the other a colleague, but both care deeply for her and do interact with her in casual situations. This confusion doesn’t decrease my star rating or my overall impression of the book, mostly because these are secondary characters and not the focus of the book, and I do think if I had read the book with my eyes first rather than experienced it as an audiobook I might have had an easier time keeping them straight. Their names would have stood out more to me.
Thank you again to all involved in allowing me access to the eARC and sorry again that I didn’t get to it in time.
About the Author
Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of the year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. The follow-up, Truth Be Told, came out on 3rd September 2020 (HQ/HarperCollins).
Kia has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times and The Telegraph, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a non-profit organisation that advocates for diversity in publishing.
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