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I Am Change

4.53  ·  Rating details ·  175 ratings  ·  58 reviews
They told her that her body belonged to men and her mind didn’t matter. They were wrong.

“What if I don’t want to marry?” Lillian held her breath. She had never said the words out loud. “Not want to marry?” Her aunt frowned. “What else would you do?”

Set in a Ugandan village, Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people’s ideas of what a girl is. In her village
Published August 1st 2019 by Black Dog
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Average rating 4.53  · 
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Jenny (Bookbookowl)
Aug 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thank you so much to Walker Books Australia for providing me with a copy of I Am Change, in exchange for an honest review.

Lillian lives in a village where girls are expected to be married as a teenager, to a man their parent's select, and live the rest of their lives producing sons and looking after their husbands.  They are not expected, or encouraged, to go to school.  Why would their families waste money on sending them to school when they don't require an education?

But Lillian desperately wa
Laura Altmann (laurabookish)
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Trigger warnings: rape, domestic violence, female genital mutilation.

Lilian, a young girl growing up in rural Uganda, has big dreams. She's hungry to learn and plans to be the first person in her family to graduate primary school, hoping to one day be a teacher or an author. Unfortunately, Lilian's mother has other plans for her, viewing a good marriage as the only thing that can save her from a life of poverty. Though Lilian is fiercely intelligent, will she be strong enough to resist her mothe
Mar 29, 2020 rated it really liked it
Similarly to some readers, I find it difficult to read books like this when they are written from a presumed middle-class white perspective. However, seeing what Suzy Zail does as a writer and activist, as well as noting her recognition of privilege in the book's acknowledgement's eases this. You can see that Zail is writing this to begin a cycle of change, to encourage girls much like Lilian to use their words and advocate for change.

"No wonder boys do better at school, Lillian thought, they
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book was beautiful.

I am at a loss for words for how absolutely exquisite it was. The way it was written. The layers of stories of all the girls.

Full review to come on my blog tour stop this Friday! Subscribe to my blog so you don’t miss it!

Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Oh wow. I have not read a book this powerful and eye-opening since reading Waris Diri's "Desert flower"almost 20 years ago. And sadly, some things have not changed in that time. In many parts of the world, not just Africa, girls are still being denied an education, treated as servants within their own families, forced into marriages with older men and forced to endure the horrors of female genital mutilation.
Suzy Zail has done a BRILLIANT job of telling the fictitious yet HIGHLY believable stor
Julie (Bookish.Intoxication)
Aug 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: loved
From the minute you open the cover of this book, you will be hooked, mesmerised by the sheer different world that Lilian and her family live in. Zail has written a masterpiece, inspired by women who have lived through similar situations and have found their own voices to share their stories with the world.

Suzy Zail is a master story teller, one that will have you so entranced in this tale of change that you won’t know what day or time it is, when you finish reading. Zail has a way of writing wi
Carolyn Taylor
Nov 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2019-books-read
My daughter wanted to borrow this from the school library but needed my consent, as it was a 16+ book and she is not quite 13. So I read it on the weekend before deciding if I was comfortable with her reading it.

This story was brilliant. It had some very confronting topics, however; they are explained and worded in a way which would be easy for a young person to understand. It makes me incredibly sad to know that the things described in this novel still happen to young girls today. It was heart
Brooklyn Tayla
Review to come on my posting date of the AusYABloggers blog tour of this book. A huge thank you to Walker Books Australia for providing me with a copy of this book and AusYABloggers for having me on the tour!
Jun 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I Am Change is inspiring.
Usually this isn’t the type of book that I would pick up. The synopsis didn’t grab me and the book is pink (I know… I’m fussy!!) I was however blown away, which I did really enjoy!
I Am Change is inspired by young Ugandan woman and the struggle and hardship that they have to endure. Not only as people that are poor and struggling in life but as woman. The start of the book dives in to young marriage and how woman must learn how to please a man. (When really men need to b
TRIGGER WARNINGS for this book: abuse, sexual assualt warning, non-consensual bodily mutilation, sexism, misogyny.

I Am Change is not a novel that I would categorise as a plot-heavy novel, I would think it would be more character-based and I think one of the main reasons why I adore this book is because of the main character, Lilian. The narrative is meant to immerse the reader in the everyday life of Lilian as she comes of age - her family, her culture, her traditions, her friends, her schooling
This book is being considered as a text at school. It will be an amazing springboard for many conversations beyond its literary merits. I was only half way through this book when I had to stop and make a donation to One Girl (an org that helps girls in Nigeria get an education). This book is that powerful.
Bree T
Oct 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Lilian has the misfortune to be born a girl in a Ugandan village. All she wants to do is go to school, complete her education and become a teacher or maybe an author. She has these big dreams but because she’s female, it’s likely she’ll be married off in her teens, not long after she becomes a ‘woman’. Her older brother experiences so much more freedom than she does and is waited on hand and foot, experiencing the sort of privilege Lilian can only dream about.

Fortunately for Lilian, she has a fa
Aug 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: physical
I Am Change is a powerful narrative inspired by true accounts of young Ugandan women. This book is the perfect blend of harrowing mixed with hope - it’s definitely not all smooth sailing however you are never left feeling entirely defeated, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel.

“Don’t let what you cannot do rid you of what you can”

This is definitely a character driven story and the main character is just so beautifully strong. Lilian fights for her worth, every single day. She fights
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This review and others like it can be found on my website:

RRP: $19.99 AUD
Publication Date: August 2019

"Men don't marry smart women" her mother said, snuffing out the fire. "Especially woman who are smarter than them." She stared at the damp page on Lilians lap. "Just because you can draw those lines and dots, doesn't mean your dreams will come true."

If you do one thing today, make it buying this book and then devouring it whole.

I Am Change was inspired by and written in co
Mackenzie Stolp
Oct 17, 2019 rated it liked it
3.5 ⭐️

Such an incredibly powerful story! education and birth control are incredible forces in ending cycles of poverty not just in Africa but globally.

Unfortunately the storytelling in this book was not as powerful. The writing was not terrible, but it felt quite basic!

The story of the text is definitely it’s driving force, and the writing style should not be a discouragement for you to read this book. Please read it! Stories about young girls like this do not get written enough, they’re far to
Confronting. Emotional.
Nov 24, 2019 rated it really liked it
A powerful and confronting story about young African girls and the struggles they face for education and equality. The story is told compassionately and engagingly and was a good read. I would recommend.
May 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Those books whose characters stay with you long after you’ve read them...this is one of them. Truly special!
Dimity Powell
Feb 12, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kids-lit
This story tugs you in forty different directions at once. That's not to say it's confusing to read. It's not. It is however an emotional junket that exposes the reader to a battery of feelings ranging from anger disgust, sorrow, disbelief, exhileration, joy, hope and triumph.

Lilian's story is pre-empted in a small but powerful way by the foreword by Namukasa Nusula Sarah, a female native of Kampala, Uganda. Like Lilian's real life name sake, Nakamya Lilian, the initial catalyst for this story,
Underground Writers
This review was first published on the Underground Writers website:

Lillian wants so much more out of life than what is expected of her. Growing up in rural Uganda, her life is destined to follow the same path as her sisters, mother, and so many women before her: marry, have children, and care for her husband for the rest of her life. But Lillian doesn’t want to marry; she wants to get an education and become a writer.

When an opportunity arises to move to
Jessica M
Jul 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing

I Am Change is an extraordinary novel from Suzy Zail, about dreams, destiny, expectations, and one young girl’s determination to follow her passion and reject the future that is expected of her.

Suzy Zail’s book is fictional, but it is based on countless research and interviews with young Ugandan women. Lilian’s story in the book was inspired by 30 different Ugandan women, and all of the experiences that Lilian had in the book, are based on real life events that happened
I've lived long enough to be aware of the sorts of discrimination, deprivation and abuse women have faced throughout history and into modern times. I know that in some countries this sort of treatment of women is fairly common place and even condoned by the law. Even though I know all this, it is still shocking to read about it and know women are enduring this treatment even as I type. Suzy Zail is brutal in her telling of Lilian's story, which she says herself is the composite of situations man ...more
Natasha (jouljet)
Apr 12, 2020 rated it really liked it
In Uganda, in tiny villages girls have limited choices and few chances to go and stay in school. Poverty, cultural expectations, the preference for boys to be the family focus, luck and indebtedness, leave girls married early and onto a path of no education and low health outcomes for her and her family. This is a YA story that highlights this cycle.

Lilian is lovable from the start - smart, ambitious to learn to read and go to school and be a teacher or a writer. She does all her chores, waits o
Graeme Cash
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
I am Change follows Lilian, a young woman from a rural village in Uganda, who dreams of writing stories and has ambitions of becoming a teacher.

Unfortunately for Lilian in her village young women are often pressured into marriages arranged by their parents. It is expected that the young woman’s focus will be producing sons and caring for her husband’s needs. Many young women do not complete their education as these arranged marriages will occur when they are a teenager.

I understand the importanc
Aug 21, 2019 rated it really liked it
Thanks to the publisher for sending me a review copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.

I was a little cautious heading in, because I figured it was going to be a pretty intense read, and also I have reservations about white/privileged/western authors writing about experiences that are really not their own. But I did a bit of research, and found that Zail had done a lot of research, spoken with many Ugandan girls and worked with organisations in Uganda that support girls seeking education. This
Bekah B
Aug 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
I Am Change tells the story of Lilian, a Ugandan girl who strives to have equal opportunities as the males in a country where females are not entitled to education, have opinions, and are encouraged to stay home to look after the men. I initially struggled with getting stuck in to the story because of what the story was about. Coming from a white British family in the UK it is clear why I initially had difficulties connecting with Lillian, the other characters and the plot. But as I read on thos ...more
I am Change, is Suzy Zail’s latest novel and presents a strong authentic voice through the main character Lillian and her struggles to get an education. Although this is a fictional work it is based on Zail's research and personal interviews with young Ugandan women from rural communities living in extreme poverty.

Although this story is heart wrenching and at times tragic, it is also a story of hope and fighting back against a system steeped in cultural traditions where women are down trodden a
Aug 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: feminist
Trigger warning ⚠️
Includes rape, domestic violence and female genital mutilations.
While I recommend this book please be aware this book doesn’t shy away from some hard hitting but important topics.

Review 📖
This is unlike any book I’ve read. I felt so many emotions while reading, mainly anger and sadness at our world. This story is powerful and written beautifully. Even though Lilian is a fictional character, her story is all to real for many young women in Uganda and elsewhere. I want to acknow
Female genital mutilation, domestic violence, rape, poverty.

An absolutely incredible read, insightful, confronting, emotional and inspiring, Lilian is a character who dreams of becoming a writer and echoes the voices of many girls around the world and the hardships they face.

Set in a small village in Uganda, we follow Lilian’s journey as a young girl growing up in a world where becoming a good house wife is more important than getting an education. But Lilian refuses to believe
Aug 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This story exudes power.
Power to have a choice.
Power to have an opinion.
Power to enact change.

The story represents the voices of many who do not have the same privileges as we do. It represents the idea that power, education, culture and identity can go hand in hand. It represents the notion that traditions of the past can be maintained and respected, but also, be changed and altered for the better.

The writing brings about awareness and inclusion. Luganda and English are woven together to show t
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Suzy Zail was born in 1966 in Melbourne, and has worked as a solicitor specialising in litigation. After the birth of her first child, Suzy left the law to concentrate on writing. Suzy has written for magazines, and is the author of award-winning children’s books. Her children’s fiction has been published in Australia, Canada, and the United States.

Suzy, an internationally published author, freela

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