Review Blog

Feb 03 2020

I am change by Suzy Zail

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Black Dog Books, 2019. ISBN: 9781925126839.
(Ages 16+) A confronting but important story inspired by the true experiences of young Ugandan women. I Am Change follows Lilian, a young girl who dreams of becoming a teacher or a writer in a village where women's education is not valued or encouraged. Fighting hard to be the first person in her family to graduate primary school, and eventually the first girl from her village to graduate university, Lilian faces countless obstacles on the path to these goals. From fasting so that the men have more to eat, to exchanging sexual acts for basic school supplies, the women in Lilian's village have accepted that their purpose is to please the men in their lives. While the injustice and oppression around her is suffocating, Lilian is determined to break free from the cultural expectations that surround her and forge her own path towards the future she dreams of. Zail fictionalises the recounts of real young women in Uganda with an authenticity and rawness that maintains the reader's interest and anger at the injustices that they face from the first until the very last page. The novel highlights the cultural beliefs and expectations that are still actively present in Ugandan communities and brings them to the attention of readers; providing a confronting insight into a very different environment, with a hopeful message; while education is the key to battling injustice and poverty, inner strength, determination and persistence can improve even the toughest circumstances. Lilian's drive and resolve not only improved her own life, but the lives of the women around her, replacing feelings of shame, regret and hopelessness with courage and light. Warnings should be noted for sexual assault, domestic violence, female genital mutilation, sexism and misogyny. Not recommended for younger readers.
Daniella Chiarolli

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