Author: Samira Ahmed
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Fiction
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
No. of pages: Hardcover, 400
Publication Date: March 19, 2019
Date Read: January 11, 2019
Rebellions are built on hope.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
First, thanks to The NOVL for sending me a review copy through their ‘Little, Brown Young Readers Partner’ Program.
Secondly, many thanks to Samira Ahmed for writing such a gripping story that highlights the danger of the way American is turning under current leadership. Thank you for writing a story that doesn’t back down from the hard truth. Thank you for writing a story that should break your heart. And if you read it and you find yourself unmoved at the end, you need to check yourself.
Internment follows the story of Layla, a seventeen-year-old Muslim American that is moved with her family to an internment camp by the United States government. Under the care of a harsh, militaristic, xenophobic director, Layla, her family, and other Muslim American families are branded, given small trailers to live in, and put behind a fence in the middle of the Californian desert. After being taken away from everything she’s known, Layla is not accepting this as a new normal like many others in the camp. Layla, along with her new friend Ayesha, and other teens in the camp decide to resist. Though their ways of protest are legal and not hurting anyone, the Director and his Exclusion Authority decide that they’re dangerous, and they must be dealt with at all costs. Layla, with the help of some guards, the support of her friends, and her boyfriend outside the camp, stays strong in the face of adversity, hatred, and violence against herself and her fellow Muslim Americans and continues to resist. Layla Amin in this story is the face of bravery surrounded by people who rise up with her as they resist to protect their freedom.
I think, with how heavy our political climate is, the horror surrounding the internment camps that children and families at the border are in currently, and the way that people are showing their true colors in this day and age, that this book is one that is not only very much needed, but that it’s one that everyone needs to read and learn from. Many times in this book it references the internment camps that Japanese-Americans were taken to during WWII. It referenced the camps of the Holocaust. It shows that before in history, we’ve seen atrocities taken against people, humans regardless of their beliefs or their race and ethnicity, and have degraded them. But here again, in 2019, clearly the government hasn’t learned from lessons in the past. Ahmed, in this story, tells a futuristic fiction story, but also highlights and makes you realize that this may not be far off for millions of people in America. And it absolutely breaks my heart. There is no place for hatred and fear-mongering. There is no place for fear of people who seem different from you. There is no place for treating someone “less than” because they hold a different belief than you. I truly hope that people read this book and realize that separation, segregation, fear, or hatred has no place and shouldn’t even be considered. It’s human lives that are at stake, and the lives are others should be more valued than the prejudices that you hold against them.
I loved everything about this book. There were times where I was crushed, times where I cried, times where I was angered, times where I wanted so much to help. There were moments that my heart was wrenched to the extreme. This book made me feel. And it makes me want to help. And it makes me want to stand in solidarity with people treated differently because of the religion they want to practice or the religious clothing that distinguishes them.
One of the things that I absolutely loved was that regardless of what was happening around her, Layla continued. Through the book, she’s constantly reminded that she’s not alone. She was helped, she was surrounded by people who wanted to resist. She was strengthened by the community that she was in. She realized that what was happening was bigger than her, so of course, she persisted. There was too much at stake not to. They were already in a place where they could possibly die doing nothing, so they might as well do something.
As I continue to think and dwell on this book, I truly this is one that will remain in my mind, and on my heart, for a the long-run. Ahmed has created a story that not only mirrors what is currently happening with people trying to legally enter our country, but also highlights a future that may be on the minds of Muslim-Americans today. I can’t speak for them and that what they’re feeling as I’m a white, Christian woman, but I can remember this story. And I can empathize, and I can speak up when I see something wrong, and I can do what I can to promote this story as a warning as to what could happen if this country continues to elect leaders who spout lies about people based on their religion, ethnicity, and race. During WWII and in this story, the people put in these camps weren’t foreign to our country. They were Americans. They had rights and those rights were stripped away and the people and government that swore to protect them failed them.
Internment releases on March 19th. Truly, make every effort you can to pick this book up. It’s one that is much needed, not only as a warning as to what could happen, but one that serves as a reminder to those who are persecuted that they are stronger than the ones that beat them down. I can’t wait for you all to read this one.
And finally, don’t be complicit in silence. If you see something that you know is wrong, call it out. Don’t be the one that could have done something, but stayed silent to save your own skin.