Hello friends! A warm welcome to all my new readers and my immense gratitude for your continued support of The Bookish Context despite my unplanned hiatus. Wading through a sea of YA fiction in search of an engrossing read? On the lookout for a novel with a heartening message exploring intersectionality? Laila Sabreen delivers exactly that and more in her impressive debut, You Truly Assumed.
I would like to thank Qamar Blog Tours for allowing me to take part in this Blog Tour, and to the author, publisher and NetGalley for providing me with a free eARC of this book in exchange for an honest review, all opinions expressed here are my own.
Synopsis and Book Details
Publisher: Inkyard Press Length: 352 Pages Publishing: February 8th, 2022
Dear White People meets Love, Hate, and Other Filters in this powerful, thought-provoking own-voices debut novel about three Black Muslim girls who create a space where they can shatter assumptions and share truths the country doesn’t see.
In this compelling and thought-provoking debut novel, after a terrorist attack rocks, the country and anti-Islamic sentiment stir, three Black Muslim girls create a space where they can shatter assumptions and share truths.
Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.
Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for…or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.
Islamophobia and Racism
It doesn’t matter what’s been written in your story so far, it’s how you fill the remainder of the pages that counts.You Truly Assumed, Laila Sabreen
What Did I Like?
I believe I am not alone in having found kindred spirits in our three protagonists with them being especially appealing as characters in terms of relatability. Sabriya with her distaste for uncertainty coming to revel in the brilliance that spontaneity might bring. Zakat desiring a life beyond the confines of Lullwood, comforting in its familiarity yet limiting in its unwitting propagation of fear. And, Farah learning to strike a balance between holding steadfast the people to whom she is beloved and letting go of resentment in favour of a hope-filled future.
Circumstance. Coincidence. Chance. All these words to try to make us feel like we’re in control of the unknown . In all honesty, that’s what I’m most terrified of. Not knowing what I can’t control.
The unifying bond between three distinctive personalities in their determination to challenge bigotry is not easily achieved. However, in the author’s beautiful depiction of camaraderie established through shared experiences, and more importantly, the emphasis on there being no all-encompassing way to practice one’s religion, with human experience being infinite. Respect is given to every aspect of a person’s identity and to individual differences, such that one’s story may be fashioned as per one’s choice.
Terrible things happen all the time, but I’ve never once thought that anyone I loved would ever be affected. I guess I’ve always thought of my family as being in an untouchable bubble.
What Did I Dislike?
Considering a central plot point is the YTA blog gaining widespread popularity and the resulting sense of community wherein everyone is given a voice, the reader is not made privy to this journey as the posts are interspersed through the novel and do not make the above wholly believable. Also, to appreciate their blossoming friendship further, I would have loved to see them interact more. With the focus on diversity in experiences within Black Muslim teenagers and in trying to integrate multiple parallel storylines cohesively, a deeper level of emotional connection was compromised.
Names can decide between who lives and dies. Between who can live in peace and who has to live in fear. Between those who can tell their own story and those whose stories are assumed before they can pick up the pen.
A fitting read for those who enjoy reflective young adult contemporary fiction, with an emotional plot inspiring dialogue addressing Islamophobia; self-expression and activism coalescing for a meaningful cause through an online forum. Also, the delightful portrayal in the multi-cast audiobook certainly enhanced my experience, highly recommend it! Check out the other stops in the tour here.
About the Author
Laila Sabreen is a writer of young adult contemporary. Raised in the Washington, DC area, she currently attends Emory University and majors in English and Sociology. Her love of writing began as a love of reading when she fell in love with the Angelina Ballerina series. When she isn’t writing, she can be found working on essays, creating playlists that are way too long, and watching This Is Us. You can find out more here or connect with her on social media.
Have you read You Truly Assumed? What did you think?
What are some of your most anticipated releases of 2022?
Any YA contemporary fiction recommendations for me?
Feel free to chat with me in the comments below!!