Take It Back

Take It Back

I was lucky enough to hear Kia Abdullah speaking at West Dean College earlier this year, and immediately started her first bestseller Take It Back. It was a gripping examination of race and gender.

A flawed, likeable protagonist, Zara, has given up her high-flying career as a barrister to work at Artemis House in east London, where free legal advice is given to rape victims. She has a troubled relationship with her Muslim family, lives alone, has no partner and is addicted to pills. The light in her life is her loyal and funny friend and former colleague, who can always make her smile.

Into her surgery one day walks Jodie, a 16 year-old white girl with a severe facial disfigurement. She lives with her alcoholic mother who openly resents her daughter and is horrible to her, as are most of the other people in Jodie’s life.

Jodie tells Zara that she has been raped by four Asian teenagers at an east London party. The boys are adamant that they are innocent and their families and the wider community swing in behind them to try and protect them from a life blighted by the accusation and possible conviction.

Zara stands by Jodie through the preparation for and into the trial. As it unfolds, it becomes less and less clear who is lying, and Zara faces bitter recriminations from the Muslim community for supporting the prosecution of the boys.

The story twists and turns right to the very end, and never fails to keep you enthralled. A highly recommended book for some holiday reading.