I don’t have words for how much I loved Internment. It was gripping, raw, terrifying, and inspirational all at once.
Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Internment is immediately terrifying. It feels gripping, visceral, and real. Ahmed doesn’t mince words. I don’t even know if it’s classified as science fiction or contemporary. But Internment is emotional and captivating. There’s a perfect balance that Ahmed strikes between being horrifying real while also being inspirational and hopeful. In the face of adversity, of hatred, of ignorance, we are reminded that, rebellions are built on hope. That people, even those who are being pushed down, oppressed, have the power to fight back, to speak out and stand up. That those on the outside have the power to protest, to march, and to rally.
Gripping and emotional
I really am at a loss of words for how to review this book that is poignant, timely, and moving. It’s a book that doesn’t pull punches. Showing the way that people close to us don’t say anything, go along with it, who we never would have figured. Our neighbors, our teachers, people who have spent time in our homes, with our kids. And the ways it doesn’t happen overnight. How it’s a steady process of fake news, fear, and ignorance. It takes days, months, years to breed, not just one night. And how all these moments build up to the current one. To the night when you are taken away in the dead of night. To the windows of your neighbor’s houses as the lights are hurriedly turned off, doors locked, and children silenced.
The way our liberties are taken away. Slowly. One by one. Our freedom of movement. Until the only control we really have is our own body, our mind, our thoughts. Even if it’s a momentary illusion. Internment mentions futures, events, within our own grasp, in our immediate living history. And it reminds us of the glimmers of people beneath the masks, beneath the rules, and the system.
Do we rock the boat? Speak out, or favor silence and survival?
One of the main themes of Internement is whether we resist? And at what price. But what Ahmed showcases with brilliant honesty, is can we afford not to pay it? When offered with the motivation to turn in our own friends for our own security, do we refuse? While there are certainly those who accept, the only true method of change is to stand together, to try to make people see on the outside and inside. There’s no waiting it out because when we all wait, today, tomorrow and the next come without pause.
Unlike what you may expect from a dystopia, Internment is a book built on hope, on resistance, and the power of individuals to enact change. It is a rising, moving and inspiring book which will make you stand out, speak up, and resist. Internment can bring you to tears, stoke anger in your heart, but ultimately moves you to hope, stand together, and know when we do, that real change can happen. It’s about resistance in the face of oppression, erasure, and violence. It’s a story for everyone, but I want to personally give it to all the teens, to those feeling apathetic or hopeless. Let’s hear the battle cry of resistance and hope.