cover image Take It Back

Take It Back

Kia Abdullah. St. Martin’s, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-27301-7

Barrister Zara Kaleel, the heroine of this riveting, thought-provoking legal thriller from British author Abdullah (Child’s Play), is a rising star in a prominent London law firm, until she decides to do something more meaningful: become an advocate for sexual abuse victims. Her first case in this new role involves four teenage boys, all English Muslims from East London, accused by their classmate Jodie Wolfe, a 16-year-old disabled white girl, of rape. That Zara is an English Muslim herself advocating against Muslim boys guarantees front-page attention. Zara is torn by her family’s dismay over her role and her firm belief in Jodie, even though Jodie’s alcoholic mother and best friend don’t believe the girl. The residents of East London, immigrants and poor native born, each come across as distinct individuals. In the courtroom, shifting testimony and constant new revelations reveal the humanity—good and bad—of all participants. Readers may find themselves believing one side, then the other, up until the shocking ending. Abdullah is definitely a writer to watch. Agent: Jessica Faust, BookEnds Literary. (Dec.)