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Take It Back

(Zara Kaleel #1)

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  3,241 ratings  ·  1,121 reviews
A shocking, twisting courtroom thriller that keeps you guessing until the last page is turned.

The Victim: Jodie Wolfe, a physically flawed 16-year-old girl accuses four boys in her class of something unthinkable.

The Defendants: Four handsome teenagers from hard-working immigrant families, all with corroborating stories.

The Savior: Zara Kaleel, a former lawyer, one of Londo
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published August 8th 2019 by HarperCollins Publishers
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Kia Abdullah I'm not 100% sure Take It Back is appropriate for a 12 year old. I think your mum will have to make that decision. That said, I was reading all sorts …moreI'm not 100% sure Take It Back is appropriate for a 12 year old. I think your mum will have to make that decision. That said, I was reading all sorts when I was your age!(less)
Kia Abdullah Hi Karen, thank you for the question. At the moment, Take It Back is being released in the UK and Commonwealth territories, so there's no US release p…moreHi Karen, thank you for the question. At the moment, Take It Back is being released in the UK and Commonwealth territories, so there's no US release planned as of yet! It will be available on Amazon Canada so I hope you manage to get a copy from there.(less)

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Nilufer Ozmekik
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is one of the books have blown my mind and shaken me to the core, my emotions all over the place. I’m cursing, crying, clenching my fists, screaming, more crying and I don’t want to do next….
Victim Jodie Wolfe, 16 years old with facial deformities, living with emotionally unbalanced, abusing, alcoholic mother claims that she has been raped by four schoolmates.

Four handsome immigrant and Muslim boys are coming from good, hard-working families, having a bright future ahead them.

BOYS claims J
Jul 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*4.5 stars*

Jodie Wolfe is a white 16 year old girl with horrific facial deformities - she’s had a really difficult life, the constant taunting and bullying about her looks, not to mention an alcoholic mother who’s always concurred with other people’s perceptions of Jodie, basically that she’s ugly, and she’s happy to voice that opinion to Jodie on a daily basis. However when Jodie accuses four teenage boys from hard working immigrant families of rape, her life will take yet another turn for the
Meredith ( on Semi-Hiatus until February)
4. 5 stars

“Women aren’t born warriors, we learn to fight because we have to.”

Take It Back is a complex courtroom drama about a 16-year-old disabled white girl who accuses four Muslim boys of rape. This is a timely, provocative, disturbing, and all too real read about the blurred lines of rape cases. In this case, race becomes equally as important as rape.

This story has many layers. It is complicated and controversial, as it not only has the reader questioning whether or not the rape occurre
Jul 08, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Kia Abdullah writes a brilliant, powerful, moving and intelligent psychological thriller and courtroom drama that pushes all the buttons as it lays bare all the ugly divisions and prejudices in our contemporary world, including race, class, disabilities, religion, politicsl and culture. This was a deeply unsettling and uncomfortable hard hitting read, with such well executed storytelling that it felt all too real and authentic, and which could so easily be true. Jodie Wolfe is a white 16 year ol ...more
Sep 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wow. Ok, if I were a publisher and someone came to me and said they had an idea for a book that would shine a harsh light on rape, race, religion, gender, class, the media, drug dependency, disability, the justice system and assault I would have said "jeez, take it down a notch, you're biting off way more than you can chew." But I'd be wrong because that's exactly what Kia Abdullah did and I think she did an outstanding job of it. An 𝙤𝙪𝙩𝙨𝙩𝙖𝙣𝙙𝙞𝙣𝙜 job.

I went into this book knowing it was a highly
Jul 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
i dont like telling people what to do, but this book comes out in less than two weeks and it needs to go on everyones TBR list N O W!

holy crap. this is a shocking ride. it grabbed my attention right from the first page and never let go. what seems like a pretty open and shut case becomes a tangled mess of he said, she said. literally. i went from moments of believing the stories of both jodie and the boys accused, to not believing a single thing anyone said, to finally being shocked speechless.
Brenda - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
HOT DIGGITY DANG!!! I am speechless with that OMG ending!!! If you haven't read this, I highly recommend making this one your next one!

Take It Back is a gripping, intense, explosive courtroom drama that explores racial and gender conflicts, family, and duty. Zara, a formal barrister now rape counselor, is divided between her family, her heart, and her job when 16-year-old Jodie accuses four boys of rape. Jodie is white and disabled with a facial disformity, and the boys are from hardworking imm
Nov 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
5 stars, among the best of 2020
This book has a fabulous premise and Abdullah does a great job fleshing this story out. Zara was a hotshot London lawyer before shucking it all to be an advocate for rape victims. Her client, Jodie Wolfe has physical deformities reminiscent of The Elephant Man. She alleges that four young Muslim boys attacked her after a party. No one else believes Jodie. And, in truth, I had no clue. Both stories seemed believable and with every alternating bit of story revealed,
Oct 08, 2020 rated it really liked it
Am I supposed to put my religion ahead of the fact that I’m a woman? Do I owe more loyalty to Islam than a girl who has been victimised?
Can’t you see, Mum? Oppression doesn’t spread through men with guns, or bombs on trains. Oppression spreads when women like you tell their daughters to marry a certain man, or wear a certain dress, or work a certain job. It happens when women like you tell us – gently and with all the love in the world – not to peek above the parapet, instead to stay at home,
Oct 05, 2019 rated it really liked it
Ever say something then regret it? Once it’s out though, especially in public, there’s no taking words back. Whether true or false.
The penalty can be victimizing and shameful.
This story is one inside another- a larger racial story to be told. A former lawyer turned rape advocate has her own battle to fight as she enters the court for a rape victim. Her own Muslim culture, community and family question her motives as she fights for a girl who claims was raped by 4 Muslim boys.
A superb read;
Michael David
Oct 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: widget-received

This is a tense, sometimes brutal, courtroom thriller that doesn’t let up until the very last page.

Zara Kaleel is a Muslim woman who left her job as barrister to work as a legal representative at a sexual assault center. Her current case involves Jodie Wolfe, a disfigured 16-year old who claims four male classmates raped her. Jodie is white, and the classmates are Muslim. While Jodie’s mom and best friend don’t believe her, Zara quickly finds that she does.

What follows is
This is a crime novel which is as much about RACE as it is about RAPE.

Zara Kaleel, herself a Muslim, left her prestigious role as barrister, to join Artemis House as an independent sexual violence advisor. and is representing Jodie Wolfe, a white teen who has suffered from neurofibromatosis, a genetic disorder that has caused her to have a severe face deformity.

Jodie arrives at Artemis House with a compelling story of how four Muslim Boys have raped her.

Should Zara put religion ahead of the fact
Aug 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
When a book expertly takes on such important themes as rape, race, substance abuse, cultural misogyny, and bullying, it hardly seems fair to classify it as a “courtroom thriller.” I hope that label, along with the generic and forgettable name TAKE IT BACK, won’t limit its reach this December when the novel gets its US hardback debut.

TAKE IT BACK tells the story of Jodie, a 16-year-old white girl with severe facial deformities (and a negligent, alcoholic mother) who accuses four Muslim classmate
Jun 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: arcs-read
**4.5-stars rounded up**

((me: reads the final scene))

Blushing and looking around, I think to myself, she got me. Kia Abdullah got me!

This provocative Legal Thriller was a non-stop guessing game. My head was reeling the entire way through trying to decipher who to believe.

I hate to say that, but I have to be honest. The reason I don't like to say that is because the case central to this story is that of a sexual assault.

This would be an enticing book club read. I can see a lot of great discussion
Susanne  Strong
Dec 22, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: netgalley, buddy-read
Review also posted on blog: https://books-are-a-girls-best-friend...

A Highly Emotional Story that Packs one Hell of a Punch.

There are two sides to every story. The difficulty is determining wherein lies the truth.

In London, a young teenage girl accuses four teenage boys of rape. The victim is Jodie Wolfe, a girl with facial deformities. The accused are four Muslim boys who claim innocence.

No one is left unscathed. And I mean No One.

Zara Kaleel is a Victim’s Advocate and a former barrister who i
Rarely do I read a blurb going into my upcoming read. For me, the less I know the better. I find it only adds to the anticipation and mystery of it all.

So let me start by saying the premise took me by complete surprise! And I mean that in the best of ways! I got so much more than I ever expected.

Zara Kaleel gave up her life as top-notch attorney to devote her time to a sexual assault referral center. In doing so she sacrificed so much more than just her brilliant career. She found it necessa
Aug 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
5 enthusiastic stars

This was such a fabulous book that I can't hardly find the words necessary to convey how very good it was. It combined decisive writing, tight scenes, and a flow that made the book seamless.

A sixteen year old white deformed girl , Jodie, has allegedly been attacked by four Muslim boys. The boys come from hard working immigrant families and while Jodie is the only one who can back up her claims, the four boys swear that nothing happened. Seeking help, Jodie enlists the assista
Jan 14, 2021 rated it really liked it
A terrific legal thriller that is intelligent and through provoking. I really enjoyed stepping into January with this one. It’s well written with plenty of discussion for a book group.

I am fussy when it comes to thrillers and love finding something different and fast paced and Take it back was just the type of thriller I enjoy. I am drawn to court room drama style novels and couldn’t put this book down. A novel where you are encouraged to take part as a juror and listen to the evidence before y
Aug 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2020
This is a heartbreaking, well-written and thoughtful book about sexual assault. The entire book centers on an accusation of gang rape by four high school boys against a fellow student. The accuser is a disabled white girl with a severe facial deformity. The four boys accused are Muslim immigrants from successful, hardworking families who are popular in their class. The ultimate question of the book is, did the four boys rape her or did she make it up?

Pretty much everything in this book will bre
Lindsay - Traveling Sisters Book Reviews
5 stars!

Intense. Heart-breaking. Shocking. Uncomfortable. Thought-provoking.

Sixteen-year-old Jodie comes to Artemis House, a sexual assault crisis centre, to seek help and support after a brutal attack. Jodie was born with extreme facial deformities and has no form of support in her home life. Zara takes on the case at the crisis centre, promising to accompany Jodie through every step from reporting the assault to the police to attending court with her. Zara is Muslim, as are the group of four
Jun 21, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: suspense

There's an antipathy that underlies some aspects of this story which in and of itself diminishes the impact of the main subject matter: rape.

Undoubtedly, Rape is a harrowing & dehumanizing incident but when conflated with religion, an already tense situation is amplified. Abdullah was about as subtle as a sledgehammer re her disdain for Muslim men and this story suffers due to the overt prejudice and misandry that permeates almost every page.

We're introduced to, Jodie, the alleged rape
Dec 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020
5+ courtroom stars

If you are looking for your next amazing book to read, look no further than “Take it Back” by Kia Abdullah. This will finish in my top reads for the year. This is one of those books that I knew was a solid 5 star read for me, no rounding up or generosity needed!

The premise starts as a simple one, a young white teenager comes forward to accuse 4 young men, classmates of hers, of rape after a party. Things get more complicated when you learn that the young woman – Jodie -- has fa
This was slightly all over the place for me. I think the author attempted too much?
Not only was this a rape case about a girl with a disfigurement who grew up in a crappy household but also about 4 boys who’s faith overshadowed their actions. Or more accurately, their actions combined with the fact that they’re of Muslim, Asian descent, fuelled the narrative of this story. Truly representing the reality that is your typical, toxic, British/Western media.

I didn’t like this, nor did I hate it. I
Sep 16, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Call it 3.5 stars

Kia Abdullah pens this controversial legal thriller that will have readers pulled into the role of courtroom spectator in a rape case that could go either way, depending on who is to be believed. When Jodie Wolfe enters a women’s legal clinic, she has quite the story to tell. Meeting with Zara Kaleel, Jodie shares a story of being gang raped by a number of her fellow classmates at a recent party. Jodie, physically disabled with neurofibromatosis—a significant facial deformity—as
Mandy White (mandylovestoread)
After thinking about this one for a few days I have upped my review to 5 ⭐️

I listened to this on audio and it was a brilliant he said/she said courtroom drama. But it is so much more than that. It deals with a lot of tough subjects like race, religion, disability, bullying, family and more. Take It Back would make a fantastic TV series, I could see it all happening as I was listening.

It tells the story of a 16 year old white girl with facial deformities with an alcoholic mother who pretty much
Aug 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: best-of-2019, fiction
UPDATE: I'm bumping this up to 5 stars as I keep thinking about this book.

Wow! This book surprised me in the best possible way! The subdued cover and the unassuming title had me fooled and it was only thanks to the glowing reviews that I picked this up. Set in the present day London, this is a brilliant court room drama about a rape trial that becomes much more and turns into a trial about race.

Jodie is a 16 year old girl with a face deformity and is used to being ridiculed by others. She has a
Nov 20, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Classified as a psychological thriller, it is much more than that. This compelling and disturbing read addresses ugly racial and anti-immigrant feelings that surface in British society, but I felt it could be set in many other Western countries. It explores uncomfortable issues of race, religion, misogyny, cultural beliefs, arranged marriages, rape, and physical disabilities.

This is the story about a reported gang rape, the resulting trial, and its ugly related fallout. It contains many lies a
"Tell the truth, or someone will tell it for you." (Stephanie Klein)

Kia Abdullah has struck the match and lit this one on fire. Seriously......My jaw is locked in the dropped position for good reason. Ya gotta check this one out. I'm still feeling the embers burning inside my head.

The door swings open and sixteen year old Jodie Wolfe slowly makes her way to the desk of Zara Kaleel, former lawyer extraordinaire and now sexual assault victim advocate. What Artemis House in East London lacks in dec
Nov 25, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book made me angry and then proceeded to break my heart. 💔

I won't discuss plot points as they have been discussed in numerous reviews before this one and I am actually a little bereft of words at the moment.

A devastating book and a very impressive debut. Do not miss this one. 4 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and St. Martin's Press for providing me with a digital ARC in exchange for my honest review.
Katie B
There have been quite a few fiction books in the last few years featuring plots involving sexual assault. Given the subject matter, it can be mentally draining so I do try to avoid frequently reading these type of stories. This courtroom thriller explores other topics like race and social justice which contributed to it being a thought-provoking read. A depressing read, but one worthy of my time.

Zara Kateel was a rising star in London's legal world but she ended up walking away from her lucrati
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Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of the year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. The follow-up, Truth Be Told, came out on 3rd September 2020 (HQ/HarperCollins).

Kia has written for The New York Times, The Guardian, The Times an

Other books in the series

Zara Kaleel (2 books)
  • Truth Be Told

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“I—I want forgiveness, for others and for myself. I want to accept that the journey is all there is. That when you get there, there’s no there there and so you keep going, keep trying, keep looking for ways to fill that hole but it will never be filled because we are just human and life has a hole – it just does. That’s what I want.” 1 likes
“Oh, Jodie.” Zara shook her head. “Do you think I was this way at sixteen? Do you think Mia was like that at your age? Women aren’t born warriors; we learn to fight because we have to.” 1 likes
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