You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen (344 Pages)
Three Black Muslim Girls Amplify The Voices of Their People
A terrorist attack in Washington D.C. shakes the nation, its ripple effects felt all over the country. The attacker is assumed to be Muslim, which results in the growth of Islamophobia. Sabriya takes comfort writing in her private blog, “You Truly Assumed,” working through her feelings of not only being Black but also Muslim, and the implications of the attack on her community. She soon discovers that the blog was accidentally set to public mode, and it quickly gains traction and popularity online. Many others relate to her writing, including Zakat and Farah. The two join Sabriya to expand the blog, all while living in different parts of the country. Impacted by the horrific events, they each use their experiences to express themselves and connect with others. When they receive threats and become recipients of online hate, however, the blog is negatively impacted and their safety is compromised. The girls must decide if continuing with their online presence is worth the risk.
You Truly Assumed Amplifies Diverse Voices
Amplifying diverse voices in literature is extremely important, and the premise of a story involving Black Muslim women is intriguing. They are a group that is underrepresented in literature, and I was elated that author Laila Sabreen is paving the way for stories such as this. The characters in this book are strong despite their ordeal; each living in different states with unique family dynamics.
I appreciated the teen-parent relationships in this story. Sabreen carefully wrote characters who understood that their lived experiences, while valid, are also limited. That turning to parents and guardians they trust for advice is often the best course of action. It was refreshing to see that in a young adult (YA) novel; reflecting what teen-parent relationships ought to look like.
While the subject matter is excellent and the messaging important, there are several technical aspects of the book that left it feeling underdeveloped. The writing was repetitive and the prose jumpy, making the plot feel disjointed. There were other aspects including the side plots that felt far removed from the main events of the story, making it difficult to connect the two and understand the significance.
The Bottom Line: 2.5/5 Brookie Stars
There are many readers looking forward to this novel, and while I enjoyed the premise I felt emotionally disconnected from the characters and the story overall. There is a great message that could have been executed or edited differently in my opinion. This is a debut novel and I hope that the author continues to tell important stories such as this. We do need more Black Muslim representation in literature and I look forward to a revised writing style.
What YA novel with BIPOC representation did you enjoy? Let us know by emailing us or visiting us on social media @booknbrunch.
Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music. Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry
Favorite Brunch Spot: Cafe Cristal
Maiya Alismaili is a 34 year old bookacholic who currently resides in Ottawa. With a background in Human Resources and Psychology, you will often find her people watching. When she doesn’t have her nose in a book, she will likely be exploring the town for new bookstores, rewatching Gilmore Girls, or cleaning to 80s music.
Favorite Book: A Fine Balance By Rohinton Mistry