Book Review: You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen

Book Review: You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

In this compelling and thought-provoking debut novel, after a terrorist attack rocks the country and anti-Islamic sentiment stirs, three Black Muslim girls create a space where they can shatter assumptions and share truths.

Sabriya has her whole summer planned out in color-coded glory, but those plans go out the window after a terrorist attack near her home. When the terrorist is assumed to be Muslim and Islamophobia grows, Sabriya turns to her online journal for comfort. You Truly Assumed was never meant to be anything more than an outlet, but the blog goes viral as fellow Muslim teens around the country flock to it and find solace and a sense of community.

Soon two more teens, Zakat and Farah, join Bri to run You Truly Assumed and the three quickly form a strong friendship. But as the blog’s popularity grows, so do the pushback and hateful comments. When one of them is threatened, the search to find out who is behind it all begins, and their friendship is put to the test when all three must decide whether to shut down the blog and lose what they’ve worked for… or take a stand and risk everything to make their voices heard.

Publication datePagesMy rating
Feb 8, 20223523.5/5 stars

I came across this book as I was browsing Goodreads earlier this month. It’s a fairly new release, and the cover alone was enough to capture my interest. Needless to say, I was really excited for a fresh perspective and, um, hello? A debut contemporary YA novel? Count me in. In all honesty however, I was kind of disappointed by the execution.

First off, I LOVE the premise of this book. The author brought to light the voices of a marginalized population within the Muslim community, and I found it very relatable for young readers and the unified struggle of defining one’s identity.

“I tried for years to separate both identities in order to feel like I fully fit into each group. Eventually, I realized that it wasn’t worth it to break off different parts of myself and try to stick them into different puzzles when both pieces belonged to the same one.”

You Truly Assumed, page 74

The author crafted the book in a way that integrated a much-needed discussion on microaggressions into a relatable and heartfelt story. It was a very honest and intimate narrative that exhibited the value of close-knit relationships and the power of community.

However, the execution could have been much better. The pacing of the story was too rushed at times and too slow at others, and there were many elements of the book that made it unrealistic (even though this is a contemporary realistic fiction novel).

I’m going to break it down a little bit:

Pacing:

The major events of the book obviously held a lot of weight, as they included themes of Islamophobia and racism. The characters’ internal dialogue was very rushed during these parts of the book, giving their reactions a sense of overdramatizion and taking away the ability to understand the gravity of the situation. While the story itself was great, I wish the author would have slowed down these parts so that these important developments would have had more of an impact.

Character development/interactions:

It took me almost 2/3 of my way through the book until I could finally place my finger on why the dialogue sounded so odd. The characters spoke IN WRITING, and not in conventional language. Nearly every piece of dialogue was structured in dense paragraphs!! I don’t know about you, but I need short and sweet discourse to maintain my attention and keep me interested. I think that’s why I truly enjoyed when the author included the girls’ blog posts because that’s when they were meant to talk in writing and it simultaneously expressed activism to the reader.

The family and friends of all three characters started to blend together for me because they all would say exactly what the character was thinking and/or needed to hear. I guess what I’m saying is, I would’ve liked them to have more flaws. I think most readers would agree, character complexity is part of what makes a book a great read. I found it a missed opportunity because it was clear to me that each of the characters placed a lot of value on their relationships.

Speaking of relationships, I NEED MORE of Bri, Zakat, and Farah together. While there were snippets of them facetiming or texting one another, I kept anticipating them having an actual meeting, which, to my dismay, never happened.

Resolution:

While the book started out with a little more depth, the plot quickly became a little too convenient. Don’t get me wrong, I like happy endings, but the way it all came together was too smooth. The resolution was predictable and the bad guys in the book were kind of weakly developed. I do love a good villain, so I felt the story was lacking in that domain.

With all that said, I would not hesitate to recommend this book to other YA readers because of the invaluable discussions it holds. I believe Sabreen has a lot of potential as a YA author and I would love to give more of her books a try.

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