Take It Back is quite a powerful book for many reasons. It touched on some important topics, and delivered an educational message. However, that being said, it wasn’t the mysterious courtroom thriller I hoped it would be.
Genre: Mystery, Courtroom Thriller
Publisher: HQ Stories
Format I read it in: Paperback
Zara has left her career as a lawyer behind her, and now works as a rape counsellor. When one day, a 16-year-old girl tells her that four boys from her school sexually assaulted her, she cannot sit still and decides to help this girl get justice.
This trial gets a lot of traction from the police, media and the public very quickly. The girl has facial deformities and the boys are all Muslim. There are a lot of accusations thrown around, and a lot of stereotypes being called out, but very little evidence.
Zara finds herself in the middle of everything. Being a Muslim woman, she is now prosecuting four Muslim boys, which is enough to earn the scrutiny of her own family and her community. She only wants to seek justice and for her client to have a fair trial, but her community has already branded her as a traitor. The amount of mental and physical abuse she gets is outrageous! As the trial days keep rolling, everything is starting to escalate…
The reason I picked this book up was because it has a courtroom setting, a trope I enjoy reading in thrillers. This one in particular, was a Goodreads recommendation when I specifically asked for a courtroom thriller. And in that aspect, the book didn’t really deliver. I expected more witness statements, more cross-examinations and more twists during the questioning of the witnesses. Also, I was underwhelmed by the ending. I didn’t pick sides and wanted to rely solely on the statements and evidence in the book and see if I can solve the mystery / case myself, but there weren’t too many clues thrown around. I feel like without any clues, the book was very biassed in trying to make us believe one side, only to then reveal something worse in the end, that we could never have predicted or unravelled ourselves.
Despite the ending being what it is, this book sends some very important messages, and that is what I will take away from it. No matter your religion, you should always try to do good in the world. On this Earth, there are good and bad people, regardless of their religion, upbringing, where they were born, what language they speak or who they hang out with. If one person does something bad, it doesn’t mean that their whole family is the same. Biases are real, and biases are dangerous. Don’t judge anyone before you have all the information and all sides of the story. Once you start acting with your bias, you can’t ever “Take It Back”. With that being said, I would definitely recommend it for the mystery lovers out there, but if you are looking for a courtroom thriller in particular, you may want to choose something different.
About The Author:
Kia Abdullah is a bestselling author and travel writer. Her novels include Take It Back, a Guardian and Telegraph thriller of the year, Truth Be Told which was shortlisted for a Diverse Book Award, and Next of Kin which was longlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger Award and won the Adult Fiction Diverse Book Award 2022. Her new novel, Those People Next Door, is out now.