Fight Back by A.M. Dassu is an important and powerful story. It should be read by adults as much as by the young people for whom it was written. In a similar vein to A Kind of Spark by Elle McNicoll, it reveals issues of identity, respect, community and empowerment that need to be recognised and addressed in British society. Teachers especially would benefit greatly from reading this book.
A word of caution – Fight Back start with a fictional terrorist bombing at a concert venue. For some readers, this may be distressing, particularly for those with a personal connection to the Manchester Arena bombing. Adults recommending this book must be very mindful of who is reading it and what support they may require. I would suggest this book is more suitable for secondary school children. The publisher has labelled its audience as “upper middle-grade & teen”.
13-year-old Aaliyah and her diverse group of friends are obsessed with their favourite K-pop band. When they get the chance to go to a concert, they can’t wait! Excitement turns to terror when a bomb explodes in the arena. What follows is a time of fear, bullying, harassment, racism and broken relationships. Aaliyah and her family are targeted because they are Muslim, blamed for the attack. Instead of hiding who she is, Aaliyah decides it is time to stand up for herself and wear a hijab. She wants to show her community that they have more in common than they are different and they can work together to get rid of hatred.
Fight Back sensitively reveals what it’s like to be a Muslim in a society where news often shows only negatives. It will build empathy for individuals, families and community groups who want to create a positive, diverse community based on mutual respect and unity.
Thank you to Scholastic for an early copy of this ground-breaking book.
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