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 the publisher
304 pages                78-0316522694           Ages 12 and up

Richie’s Picks: INTERNMENT by Samira Ahmed, Little Brown, March 2019, 400p., ISBN: 978-0-316-52269-4

“My mom hugs me. Tight. ‘I’m so sorry sweetheart. We had no idea it would come to this.’”

“Trump is an Islamophobic bigot. As president, his words matter. He is using them to spread hatred. And deranged, unwell or evil people have allegedly been inspired by those words to target the very people that Trump targets in his speeches and his tweets. The charged suspect in New Zealand cited Trump ‘as a symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose’...

Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry has a long history. In 2011 and 2012, Trump insinuated that President Barack Obama was secretly Muslim. In September 2015, at a campaign rally, Trump nodded along as a supporter claimed ‘we have a problem in this country; it’s called Muslims.’ Trump continued nodding, saying ‘right,’ and ‘we need this question!’ as the supporter then proceeded to ask Trump ‘when can we get rid of them?’ In response, Trump said: ‘We’re going to be looking at a lot of different things.’

In November 2015, on ‘Morning Joe,’ Trump said that America needs to ‘watch and study the mosques.’ Four days later, he indicated that he would ‘certainly implement’ a database to track Muslims in the United States. Two days after that, he falsely claimed that ‘thousands and thousands’ of Muslims cheered in New Jersey when the World Trade Center collapsed on Sept. 11, 2001.

Then came the most egregious statement — one that should haunt Trump’s legacy forever and taint everyone who supported him subsequently: On Dec. 7, 2015, he called to ban all Muslims from entering the United States. Three days later, Trump tweeted that the United Kingdom is ‘trying hard to disguise their massive Muslim problem.’ On March 9, 2016, Trump falsely claimed that ‘Islam hates us.’”

-- from “A Short History of President Trump’s anti-Muslim bigotry” Washington Post, 3/15/19

“Independence, California. The town where we disembark for internment is called Independence. I balk at the irony of the name. And at how sunny the day is. There should be dark clouds and storms. Permanent night. But the earth, the sun, and the moon keep on their course, utterly oblivious.

A loud voice barks from the PA: ‘Stay with your families. You will board for Camp Mobius by identification number. Show the underside of your left wrist as you exit the station. Stay calm and exit in an orderly fashion’

Camp Mobius? I guess that’s what they’re calling it. They give it a name, like it’s a summer sleepaway camp, and not a prison.

‘We’re in the first group. Let’s get in line.’ My dad walks numbly forward.

‘How can you be so calm about this?’ I hiss at my parents. I know it’s not their fault, but I’m tired, and nothing makes sense, and I desperately want an explanation for something, for anything.

My mom takes my elbow. ‘Layla, enough.’ My mom’s voice is low but not soft. ‘We’re not calm like we’re meditating. We’re keeping our cool so we don’t get shot. Understand?’

‘They’re not going to shoot us. We’re American citizens. They can’t.’

‘Our government is jailing us because of our faith,’ a voice from behind me says. I spin around to face a girl who looks about my age. ‘They can do whatever they want. They already are. It’s a brave new world.’

‘We haven’t gotten to that book on the syllabus yet,’ I say. ‘What happens?’

‘Spoilers.’ The girl grins. I like her already.

‘I appreciate your commitment to protect the secrets of nearly century-old literature.’

‘I pride myself on my anti-spoiler crusade.’”

INTERNMENT is a young adult thriller that follows the plight of a Muslim American teenager and her parents after the United States government decides to forcably incarcerate all Muslims in the US--including all Muslim-American citizens--in internment camps. While Donald Trump is never identified by name in the book, his publicly-expressed sentiments make repeated appearances in the story.

A month after the President declares that Musiims are a threat to America, the Exclusion Authority comes for high school senior Layla Amin, her poet father, and her chiropractor mother. They are given ten minutes to each pack a bag before they are taken away for processing. This includes their getting a “processing” number imprinted on the inside of their left wrists. They are jailed in Camp Mobius, located in the California desert, not far from Manzanar where many Japanese American citizens were similarly imprisoned during the Second World War.

America interned Japanese Americans a mere decade before I was born. Given the deep roots of white supremacy and anti-immigrant sentiments in the US, we can’t assume that history won’t repeat itself. If you know American history, the premise of INTERNMENT is all too easy to swallow.

We see how internees who make waves disappear from Camp Mobilus, never to be seen again. But Layla repeatedly takes life-threatening chances as she probes potential strategies for escaping the armed and electrically-fenced facility. She takes advantage of the friendship of Corporal Jake Reynolds, a mysteriously empathic guard, and is able to contact her Jewish high school boyfriend David on the outside. David’s father works for the State Department, but is apparently unwilling to help.

Layla also has a new friend to confide in on the inside--Ayesha, the girl with whom she bantered about spoilers during their intake processing.

These teens are well-read students, familiar with the history of the WWII-era White Rose resistance group. Despite the untimely end that the White Rose teens experienced, Layla decides that emulating them is her best bet for effecting change from the inside. Thus begins a high-stakes cat-and-mouse game between Layla and the camp authority.

Like me, you’ll hold your breath, wondering how this will all end.

I sure hope that, in the real world, Americans of good conscience can unite in opposition to fascism and will help steer the ship of state in a different direction than what is portrayed here. Let’s hope that the future will not reveal this book to have been prophetic.


Recommended by:  Richie Partington, MLIS

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1 review
This book is scary because the scenario is not a new one in world history. Neither is it something that occurred a long time ago. It is a real and current issue in America.
The book is set the near future. The powers are once again forcing segregation and it’s not Hitler this time abusing his power promoting racism. It is the president of The United States of America. I don’t believe he is ever named but I may be wrong. Read the first paragraph on page 26, chapter 3 of the hardback. Too long to quote and may violate copyright.

One night, seventeen-year-old Layla and her parents are given ten minutes to pack up their things before they are taken to an internment camp for Muslim Americans. There, they are held under guard, along with many others, separated by race and encouraged to police one another.
Anyone who complains is forcibly ‘disappeared’. Layla is a normal teen who is horrified by how fearful and compliant her parents have become. These are living in unjust conditions. Layla is an American and her family had done nothing wrong and has never wronged anyone.
Layla, with her friends on the inside and boyfriend campaigning outside, she claims her voice and learns to fight for freedom for her family and the other people in the camp.

The scenario reminds me of American government’s ‘zero tolerance’ border protection program as well as the World War II internment of nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans.

This is a highly political novel with a compelling story.
Be sure to read the author’s notes at the end. She challenges young readers to educate themselves and to engage in active resistance.
There are also resources to learn more about Japanese internment in World War II.
Suitable for ages 14+.
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