Take It Back
8th August 2019
Publisher: HQ at HarperCollins
The Victim: A sixteen-year-old girl with facial deformities, neglected by an alcoholic mother. Who accuses four boys of something unthinkable.
The Defendants: Four handsome teenage boys from hardworking immigrant families. All with corroborating stories.
Someone is lying.
Former barrister Zara Kaleel, one of London’s brightest young legal minds, takes up Jodie Wolfe’s case; she believes her, even if those closest to Jodie do not.
Jodie and Zara become the centre of the most explosive criminal trial of the year, in which ugly divisions within British society are exposed. As everything around Zara begins to unravel she becomes even more determined to get Jodie the justice she’s looking for. But at what price?
Take It Back by Kia Abdullah is one of those books that I will never fully get out of my brain. It hit me emotionally in many ways, taking me on a complete rollercoaster and even now, a couple of weeks after finishing it, I’m still not fully sure how to process my thoughts. To put it simply, this a stunning, important exploration of rape culture and race relations in the UK, with a London focus. It is the next Anatomy of a Scandal, but with more depth and genuineness than I would have thought possible from a courtroom drama. It withholds a serious, objective narrative tone, which reflects many courtroom cases. There are similarities to Netflix docuseries, When They See Us, and it had me guessing the whole way through who was really telling the truth.
Abdullah has created a searingly excellent drama in Take It Back, with gaslighting being the meal of the day and reliable sources few and far between. Main character, Zara journey is an interesting one, as she must force the voices and beliefs of her friends and family aside to stand by what she truly believes. I admired her conviction the whole way through, and felt that she came across as a truly good person, having fought adversity every step of the way, as the case reflects her life thus far. Jodie is painted as our typical victim; a disabled white girl who’s mother doesn’t care about anything but alcohol, and who’s best friend doesn’t even believe her story. What hope does she have?
Our ‘villains’ are an interesting bunch; four Muslim boys with good grades and futures ahead of them, most of whom had either ignored Jodie or been sympathetic towards her. Why would they ever want to hurt her? The portrayal of Jodie versus the accused is one of the most two-sided I’ve seen in a narrative such as this. Either outcome would shock you, as you witness everything as though you’re on the jury. When you have finished reading this book, I want you to think back to the trial; would you have convicted those boys or not?
Overall, Take It Back by Kia Abdullah is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Brilliantly plotted, with characters built in three dimensions, you’ll never guess the outcome of this trial. I recommend this for people who liked Anatomy of a Scandal by Sarah Vaughan, or enjoy watching hard-hitting true crime documentaries, as it reads just like one. Thank you Janet Aspey from HarperCollins for my proof copy of Take It Back by Kia Abdullah, and Lucy Richardson for organising this blog tour. 5*.