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Take it Back - a tense, thought-provoking legal thriller.

Zara Kaleel was a successful London barrister and a rising star but she was unhappy. She decides to walk away from her profession to become an advisor at a center which helps victims of sexual assault. Sixteen-year-old Jodie Wolfe, who suffers from neurofibromatosis, which has left her face disfigured, seeks help at the center. She claims that she has been raped by a group of boys from her school. One of them, Amir, is someone she has had a deep crush on for many years.

Zara is a fascinating character. She is a smart, independent woman whose rejection of many of her Muslim values has enabled her to be successful but also fractured her relationship with her family. It has also created an inability for Zara to enter into healthy relationships.

Jodie, in addition to her physical challenges, has an alcoholic mother and a best friend who doesn’t believe her story. And Jodie’s story is not without some question. We get to know more about the accused and wonder whether they could have done the horrible things Jodie says they did.

An important element is that Jodie is white and the boys she has accused of rape are Muslim. By taking on the case and supporting Jodie during the trial, Zara is seen as betraying her community. The trial is intense and upsetting. The racial upheaval that the case generates through the news and social media is tragic.

Author Kia Abdullah has provided much more than a good legal drama. It is a story that unveils deep rooted prejudices. We are kept guessing until the end as to who is telling the truth. This is a thought-provoking, emotional book that will stay with you.

Many thanks to NetGalley, St. Martin's Press and the author for a copy of Take it Back in advance of its debut in the United States. This is Book #1 in a new series. I am looking forward to the next installment.

Rated 4.25 out of 5 stars.

Mystery / Legal Thriller.

Publication Date: December 8, 2020 (U.S. debut)

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