Internment by Samira Ahmed: A Powerful Look at a Potential Future if Islamophobia Persists

4.5 stars

Layla Amin and her parents marked themselves as Muslim on the U.S. census, despite watching hatred against Muslims grow in the community and word around them.

Now, Layla and her family have been forced to leave their homes and live in an internment camp for Muslim-American citizens, under the rule of a harsh Director and his guard, all armed with guns.

Yet, with the help of friends inside the camp, a guard, and her boyfriend from the outside, Layla tries to lead a rebellion for freedom, fueled by hope.

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Internment is not a perfect story. But it is so, so powerful.

Especially given recent events, books that fight Islamophobia are so important and I hope they will show future generations the consequences of perpetuating bigotry and hatred. I can only hope that Internment will shed light on the dangerous paths people–high profile and everyday–have taken in normalizing Islamophobia.

Because Islamophobia is not okay, even if it’s meant as a “joke.” Internment shows a dangerous future that may be shocking to some, but isn’t unimaginable to me.

I can’t say that this isn’t a possible future, especially if America and other countries fall further into an us vs. them narrative.

I know people will say that this book sounds “exaggerated” or “tries too hard,” but I personally disagree with the idea that Internment is overdoing it. Very strongly.

This book shows one future that could be very likely if we don’t speak out against it.

It’s scary. It’s so scary. I think people who find this as a caricature or as overblown need to consider that this is

  1. written for teenagers!
  2. drawn from real life, and can very well be true. I think people who think this is overblown need to take a step back and reconsider whether they understand the full extent of Islamophobia today. (tea: sipped)

Internment, in my opinion, is not supposed to be a book about pain. It’s not supposed to spend a lot of time on suffering, but rather focuses on rebellion. On fighting back. On giving hope.

It isn’t perfect. But I think it’s a very good start and that it can’t satisfy everyone.

I think anyone who reads this book is hoping for something different out of it. And I don’t think Internment will be able to please everyone. I personally was hoping for a less clean ending (weird, I know), but what Ahmed provided was different from that, but this didn’t make it bad.

Islamophobia and its potential to harm so many is such a huge topic, and I don’t think any book would be able to adequately cover every element of this specific brand of hate.

Ahmed still did a wonderful job of exploring the topic, and I really appreciated the nuance she added with the racism within Muslim communities (i.e. how black Muslims are treated differently from white Muslims or desi Muslims etc.).

Internment may not cover everything, and it definitely won’t satisfy everyone. But I think, ultimately, the courage Layla shows in starting a rebellion was extremely admirable, awe-inspiring, and powerful.

I think this is a wonderful book–for teens especially. It’s powerful and is clear in its message while still holding that subtext in between the lines.

(I also think that adults need to remember, when reviewing this book, that it’s for teens and that writing a book with an extreme level of graphicness and a less hopeful message ultimately will decrease Internment‘s power for its intended audience.)

So please read Internment. I find it moving and powerful, and I believe everyone needs to not only read this, but read this with the seriousness and consideration that it deserves.

My review did not do this book justice, but I hope it provided some insight into just how important I believe Internment is. It’s a story of girl who rises up against hatred, and is inspiring in every way.

Thank you so much to The NOVL for sending me an advance reader’s copy in exchange for an honest review!

Are you ready for Internment this Tuesday?

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13 thoughts on “Internment by Samira Ahmed: A Powerful Look at a Potential Future if Islamophobia Persists

  1. This is a wonderful, wonderful review Vicky and this sounds like such an important book, too. I’m really happy books like this one have been written and I’ll be looking forward to reading it someday ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is a thorough and fantastic review on a poignant and essential book for the times. I will say that even written for teenagers, unfortunately, there are many adults that haven’t learned from history and don’t realize just how on the brink America is from this future (and not just for Islams) 😔

    Liked by 1 person

    1. yes! i think a lot of people don’t realize the sheer expanse of racism today, and find it unrealistic when many POC can see exactly how real it is. and thank you!

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m really nervous about reading this because as a Muslim when I read Love Hate and Other Filters, I actually found it to be a pretty misleading and terrible representation of the “religious struggles.” But I’m trying to keep an open mind about this one!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aww, oh no! Do you have a review I can read more about it? I’m sorry, that’s really disappointing. I’ll try to let you know if Internment falls in line with that or not, based on what felt off to you in LH&OF

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Everything you said makes sense! Okay, putting Internment in context, I think Layla *is* proud of her heritage in it, so you don’t have to worry about that, but she also doesn’t spend a lot of time in the novel talking about her religion. It’s more about being discriminated on the cause OF religion, but it’s not super focused on Layla and her religion. I have a feeling you probably won’t like it a lot, but maybe a little more than you did with LH&OF. Oof. I’ll probably recommend her books a little less (also I loved Saints and Misfits???? YESSSS)

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Aw man😥 Thanks so much for the heads up though I really appreciate that! I might read it later but with a more cautious mind!
        And yesss I’m super excited about Love From A to Z!

        Liked by 1 person

    1. Definitely! In certain moods I don’t think I would have been able to handle this, but in the right one, it packs such a sucker punch. I hope you find the perfect mood & end up loving it!

      Liked by 1 person

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