Here I stand : stories that speak for freedom by Amnesty International
Walker Books, 2017. ISBN 9781406373646
(Age: 15+) In an eclectic collection of themes, forms and style, Amnesty presents short stories which invite us to walk in the shoes of those who suffer various injustices.
Whilst confronting, not all of the stories deal with the grimmest of subjects yet those which consider molestation, sex trafficking and suicide as a consequence of relentless bullying make this suitable for a 15+ readership.
Other situations are equally moving. An overworked public defender seeks the best legal outcome for a black youth entangled in gang culture. A young girl is tormented by the fact that her former best friend, with whom she shared a mutual devotion, now shows contempt and disgust for her sexual orientation. In a tale with a similar theme, a black youth is incredulous that his former best friend shows vile hatred towards him because of his skin colour. The very real situation of a child being embarrassed by having to interpret for her mother in delicate conversations with doctors and school teachers is the subject in another story.
A sliding doors moment is considered in the life a young migrant who is groomed to become a suicide bomber but also has the option to pursue the path of education and enlightenment towards a fulfilling life.
The brutality and futility of state sanctioned execution in a U.S. prison prompts a lawyer to ruminate on meaningful ways to manage 'redemption'. He imagines a remote island with a futuristic penal facility which protects wider society but enables prisoners to engage in environmentally productive work which generates income as compensation to victims of crime.
Industrial pollution destroys a river system in a developing country and completely devastates the communities which live upon its banks. No longer able to fish, these people starve in an unequal battle against a powerful international corporation with no concern for those who suffer from their negligence.
A recurring element in these stories is bullying which appears in various ways and on a range of levels. The trauma and pain caused is clearly evident but what I liked about this book is that the intention is to provoke thought and introspection. Despite the dark and harsh realities of many situations, these stories largely focus on the possibility for change and the creation of a safer, more just world.