Take It Back by Kia Abdullah, 4 Stars

It always strikes me when I read a tragic story of girl here in America, or in an Islamic country, who has been murdered or attacked as part of an honor killing. It’s insane to me that a people could feel so strongly about their religion that they would murder their own kin for violating the rules and bringing shame on their family.

And as I write this, I know it sounds ignorant. And I’m sorry, but it’s crazy. Of course, there are many religions who hold their religion above all else, without the promise of forgiveness or redemption.

Of course, I didn’t mean for this to be a religious post, but just to say that I don’t get it. But it brings up a lot of questions. And that’s what was so absolutely amazing about Take It Back by Kia Abdullah. Not only was it a page turner, but it makes you think.

From the Publisher:

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 Review:

As Americans, we don’t take people’s cultural backgrounds into account as often as we should. I might just be me, but I don’t think so. This one is set in London, which I’m led to believe is traditionally more tolerant of other cultures, or at least we could hope so. That’s what made Take It Back, such an engrossing story.

First of all, it had a Law and Order, ripped from the headlines feel, which is always interesting to me. Four Muslim boys are accused of raping a disabled white girl. But it’s the race here that causes an uproar. It’s Muslims against everyone else. Because the last thing they need is another reason to be discriminated against.

At the center of the controversy. we have Zara, a successful Muslim young woman who is acting as a victim advocate for the girl. Do you see a problem there? Because there is a huge one as the cultures clash. Zara has strayed from her religion and is a big of a black sheep to her family. It seems they try to avoid the topic, but with this case, her loyalty to the culture she was born into is thrust into the headlines.

Take is Back is a classic whodunnit he said, she said. Except there are 4 boys and 1 girl, but the boys are Muslim and the girl is white. Definitely a page turner that will leave you thinking for a while.

Special thanks to Netgalley and St. Martin’s Press for an e-galley in exchange for my honest review. This one is out December 8! Get your copy:


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