My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Rebellions are built on hope.
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.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
Given the nature of the current political climate around the world, Internment is a frighteningly stark, no holds barred, powerful YA contemporary set “15 minutes” into the future within a US internment camp for Muslims.
Some books you read for pleasure, and others you read because you should read them and you need to read them. Internment is an uncomfortable read because it’s so believable. Previous examples of internment camps are referenced and discussed by the characters, particularly the Japanese Americans interned during WW2 and this constantly reminds the reader that this isn’t just fiction, this has all happened before and could easily happen again.
By focusing in on the main character Layla’s experience, Internment becomes a really personal story and really emphasises how crazy and arbitrary the idea of these camps are. Layla and her parents go from being normal American citizens to prisoners within a single night, with little explanation from those interning them.
The conditions described in the book are atrocious, made all the more horrifying for façade that the government have put up to make it seem as if the camp is not a prison- individual caravan type homes for each family, a mess room to eat dinners in and schooling/work schedules. Samira Ahmed explores human rights in a really interesting way, depicting how quickly people interned in this way become grateful for the smallest of privileges when just the week before they were normal citizens with complete freedom.
I really liked the dynamic between Layla and her parents. Layla is a very strong, determined woman and her parents are torn between encouraging this as they have previously, and wanting her to keep her head down inside the camp to keep them all as safe as possible.
At times I did find the actual plot of the book lost its way a little and could have been a bit tighter. I didn’t much care for Layla’s boyfriend David and found his sneaking into the camp the most far fetched aspect of the whole book (which is actually terrifying when you think about it…)
Overall, Internment is a gripping, terrifying reminder about what governments can do given the power if we don’t all fight against it. It’s depressing to know that in 2019 a book like this is still so relevant and important. Samira Ahmed’s writing is very accomplished and the story is written so realistically which makes it all the more effective. This book should be required reading in schools.