Publication date : March 19th, 2019
Publisher : Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Genre : Young Adult | Speculative fiction
Page Count: 381
Synopsis : 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. (From Goodreads)
TW: Islamophobia, slurs, displacement, internment camp, violence, torture, electrocution, gunshots, death.
If you know me, you know that this one of my most anticipated releases and I’m still in a little in denial about the fact that I read it back at the end of 2018, and it’s all done. I admittedly didn’t love it as much as I hoped but I still have a lot of love for it. I will go in detail about the why of it a little further down in the review but I want to preface it by saying that this my review for the ARC. I was told by the author that there are some major changes in the finished copy, namely more talk of white supremacy as well as making the love interest biracial in addition to Jewish and a discussion of that intersection. So I will probably read the finished copy when it releases and edit my review accordingly.
The opening chapter is one of the most powerful and memorable ones I’ve ever read. The writing is like a punch in the gut. That’s the best and only way I can accurately describe it. It’s so emotionally packed and hits you right where it hurts the most, it pushed all my buttons, poked at mine and many other Muslims folks biggest fears and that was hard. Internment was hard to read. Especially with how introspective it is, it focuses a lot in how the main character feels in the horrible circumstances, her thought process and how she deals with said feelings. Fear, anger and despair are at the forefront of it all so this book can be quite draining, emotionally speaking.
Internment is set a couple years after the US election and it felt to me like a companion to Love Hate and Other Filters (it’s not) and that Maya would be in that camp as well. As Muslim citizens are first put on strict curfew and made to live an impossible life, and then gathered and shipped off to internment camps, and you know what? This was a pretty accurate representation of today’s society with teenagers leading the rebellion and pushing for change and I don’t think it would have been realistic any other way. I also liked the nuance that went beyond the Us vs. Them dichotomy. How the internees found support in the most unexpected places but were also betrayed by their own keen.
Like I said before, this book is very introspective, which is understandable. In circumstances where people have their freedom stripped away, are trapped and can’t do much of anything, their thoughts are the only thing they still have so we get a lot of Layla’s reflection and ruminations, her feelings and internal turmoil. That being said, I wish the book dove deeper into the history and politics of internment camps, the oppression, brain-washing, and propaganda that makes them more or less accepted by the masses, giving them a false sense of security. Don’t get me wrong, we do get that, as well as some historical parallels between the current camps and Japanese and Nazi concentration camps during WWII but by the end, it still left me with a sense of lacking, I wanted this book to dig deeper, I felt like it only grazed the surface when it comes to its potential in this regard.
I love Layla as a main character so much. She’s impulsive and a fool who doesn’t know when to protect herself sometimes but it’s all for the greater good. She’s a smart mouth, strong, resilient and I admired that so much about her. How no matter how bad her situation got, and even when her faith of ever being free again wavered, she still pushed through and refused to give up on herself and her community. Even when said community doesn’t back her up and I think that takes a lot of bravery. She goes through so much in the book and grows a lot, learning when to speak up and when silence is her greatest weapon.
She strikes up a friendship instantly with Ayesha, another girl at the camp, and it feels like her solace, someone she can laugh with, and cry with, someone she can confide in and who will understand exactly what she’s going through. Ayesha is also her voice of reason sometimes when she goes too far. I loved their friendship so much. Other minor characters appear but this one is the one that stuck with me the most. Then there’s David, Layla’s boyfriend from high school. I loved how supportive he was and how he never gave up on her, not even for one second. Their relationship wasn’t perfect, he often missed the mark and said the wrong things at the wrong time, but he listened and learned. And did his best to help with the means he had.
Internment is an important story and one I encourage everyone to read if you want a look into the terrifying future that is only a few steps away from the current climate in the US. Because truth be told, this book is closer to reality than it is to dystopia.
That’s it until next time.
Did you read Internment? If so, what did you think?
Hope you enjoyed, write to you soon.