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.
At the center of this compelling drama is the rape of a deformed 16 year old girl by four of her classmates. In and of itself this premise has enough bones for a great legal thriller. But Abdullah takes us beyond “He said, she said” and has us take a good hard look at how societies respond to such high profile cases.
Our protagonist Zara has started on a new path in life. She has left behind her career as a barrister and has now assumed the role of advocate. We know that some trauma has brought her here and we see the fallout – strained relationships, substance abuse, casual sexual encounters. But the one area where Zara does not falter is in her unshakeable belief in Jodi’s story. Despite the ease with which Jodie has lied, her stories differing between advocate, police and lawyers. Despite the wholesome well bred reputation that the boys have. Despite her family’s pleas for her to leave the case alone. Despite the Muslim community denouncing her as a traitor.
As you turn the pages Take It Back develops into a complex shape that is layered with feminism, race and religion. We are asked as readers to view the case from all angles. To think about why men rape. To consider how physical beauty, or lack thereof, impacts how people perceive our character. Take it Back asks us to think about how society and culture mold us into individuals that can accept “boys just being boys”. We are tasked with looking at how our prejudices color and impede our quest for the truth.
Take It Back was a gripping novel. I look forward to reading Truth Be Told, the second installment in the Zara Kaleel series.
Meet the Author
KIA ABDULLAH is an author and travel writer. She has contributed to The Guardian, BBC, Channel 4 News, and The New York Times. Kia currently travels the world as one half of the travel blog Atlas & Boots, which receives over 200,000 views per month.