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Fight Back by A M Dassu - Review

Thursday, June 30, 2022

A M Dassu is my excellent mentor (paid for through Write Mentor) and I previously read her book Boy Everywhere which I reviewed here last year. So when I saw she had a new book I ordered it from Rhyme & Reason in Sheffield, in the spirit of supporting an indie bookshop. It arrived and I picked it up soon after. 

Aaliyah is thirteen and goes to school, she has two best friends, Lisa and Sukhi. She also goes to school with Sami from Boy Everywhere, who hasn't been there very long. She and Lisa and Sukhi manage to get tickets to see 3W, a k-pop band. They go to the gig and have a brilliant time but then on the way out the venue is bombed. None of the girls are injured, but their friend Jo loses her leg. All the girls are obviously traumatised by what they've witnessed.

And straight away Aaliyah begins to experience a ramping up of racist abuse. First it comes from Darren, Lisa's brother, and then from Jayden at school, who appears to get away with it with all the teachers, and then from neighbours and people further afield. She is obviously hurt, and decides to start wearing hijab as an outward symbol of being Muslim. Lisa stops talking to her, though, and her older brother Yusuf is getting into trouble fighting racists. Aaliyah decides it's time to fight back.

This IS a cute middle grade story which made excellent points about racism and I did like Aaliyah and her decision to fight back. I loved the subplot featuring the cat. I liked a lot of it, but it somehow just left me a bit flat. I didn't find it as compelling as Boy Everywhere, which made me sad. I also felt like Aaliyah thought that Sukhi (who is Sikh, although she has lighter skin than Aaliyah) couldn't experience racism which just isn't the truth at all. I had a few problems with it so I'm giving it three out of five, which I do feel a little bad about. 

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