A gripping story that will support and inspire young readers who experience Islamophobia and racism, and enlighten all readers on how to be a better ally.

Thirteen-year-old Aaliyah is into reading, K-pop, and loves her best friends Lisa and Sukhi. But life as a Muslim isn’t easy in a society that ripples with racism. After a terrorist bombing, she’s passed a note in class - “Is the London attacker one of your uncles? I heard your dad got the weapons from Pakistan for him”. Meanwhile, Aaliyah’s lawyer mum is abused in a supermarket for wearing a hijab. 

Then, when another attack happens closer to home – very close, in fact – the abuse escalates and Aaliyah is ghosted by Lisa, whose controlling older brother Darren holds despicable “take back our country” views. Though hurt, Aaliyah’s response is one of pride and courage. She decides “wearing a hijab would empower me to be true to myself… I’d show everyone a proper Muslim wasn’t anything like the few bad ones plastered all over the news. It was time I came out and was confident about who I was. It was time to fight.” 

When her school bans hijabs in response to complaints from pupils and parents, and Darren organises a “BRING BACK OUR SAFE WHITE NEIGHBOURHOODS” protest, Aaliyah decides that enough is enough and speaks out at a public event.

Perfectly pitched and paced, and radiant with Aaliyah’s courage, Fight Back is an engaging must-read that challenges racist stereotypes as it shines with the vitality of empathy, friendship and positive protest. 

Author, A.M. Dassu

What the Shortlist Committee Say...

"A stirring story of fighting racism and bigotry through unity, community, courage and speaking out loud and proud"