Book Reviews

Review: We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid

I had no idea what to expect when I started We Didn’t Ask for This. I was just expecting a book about a high school lock-in, but what I got was so much more. We Didn’t Ask for This is a story about activism, identity, and friendship. Keep reading this book review to find out how We Didn’t Ask for This absolutely captivated me.


Every year, lock-in night changes lives. This year, it might just change the world.

Central International School’s annual lock-in is legendary — and for six students, this year’s lock-in is the answer to their dreams. The chance to finally win the contest. Kiss the guy. Make a friend. Become the star of a story that will be passed down from student to student for years to come.

But then a group of students, led by Marisa Cuevas, stage an eco-protest and chain themselves to the doors, vowing to keep everyone trapped inside until their list of demands is met. While some students rally to the cause, others are devastated as they watch their plans fall apart. And Marisa, once so certain of her goals, must now decide just how far she’ll go to attain them.


(Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley. This has not impacted my review which is unbiased and honest.)

We Didn’t Ask for This is a book that I read in about a day. Easy to read, the magic in We Didn’t Ask for This is in the balance between characters and tension. Throughout the book, we are able to see the inner workings, thoughts, and memories of each of these characters. In short sections, we get to know each of them – their fears of never fitting in, the family expectations, and their passions. It becomes easy to pick our favorite. But We Didn’t Ask for This goes further than that.

Tension & Writing

Somewhere along the way, I became attached to almost all the characters. We see them evolve, learn lessons, and change. Balanced with heart, We Didn’t Ask for This delivers tension. There’s a sense not only of time running out, but also our wonder whether Marisa will be successful. The tension pulls the readers through the story. This expert combination makes the pages fly by and I thoroughly enjoyed each one of them. There’s also something magical about Alsaid’s writing. It began with this almost legendary reputation for the lock-in, and evolved into a feeling of scope. A broadness. Knowing that this is so much more than just making a statement.


In We Didn’t Ask for This there’s a gap between who we are and who we want to be. What is more relatable than that? The distance between those spaces. Full of hope, guilt, shame, and apology. Feeling powerless because of the expectations weighing on our shoulders that choke us. And so for this one night of lock-in, there’s a chance of escape, a possibility to make something else of these hours.

We Didn’t Ask for This starts conversations about activism. What happens when the world does not listen to us? When do we decide to take a stand? Environmental activism, and activism in general, is so important. I found myself really connecting with Marisa. With her amount of planning and commitment, but also knowing that the world has not taken enough action to save our planet. We are asked how much change we can make on an individual level. I also loved how supportive Marisa’s parents were!


We Didn’t Ask for This is full of a diverse group of teens. Friendships bloom which are both unexpected and tender. We Didn’t Ask for This is a story about hope and friendship. On grief and love. It balances being a story about activism, without being heavy handed, and instead being grounded in characters and our ability to inspire. We can choose the mark we leave on this world. The impact we make.

Find We Didn’t Ask for This on Goodreads, Amazon, Indiebound & The Book Depository.


What is your favorite story that deals with activism?

Share this post

2 thoughts on “Review: We Didn’t Ask for This by Adi Alsaid

  1. I’m really impressed by the crop of books that seem to be appearing on activism. It shows what’s especially important to youth today, and I’m glad to see writers/publishers respond to that. One book I read recently is a graphic novel called Go With the Flow, in which a group of girls advocate for free menstrual products in their high school’s washrooms.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.