Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah

Published: September 3rd, 2020
Publisher: HQ
Format: Hardcover, Kindle, Audio
Genre: Crime Fiction, Legal Thriller, Political Thriller, Domestic Fiction, LGBTQ Literature

Happy Publication Kia Abdullah! I’m thrilled to be one of the bloggers sharing their review for this outstanding thriller on publication day as part of the blog tour. Thank you to HQ for the invitation to take part and my copy of this novel.

SYNOPSIS:

ARE YOU READY TO START THIS CONVERSATION?

Kamran Hadid feels invincible. He attends Hampton school, an elite all-boys boarding school in London, he comes from a wealthy family, and he has a place at Oxford next year. The world is at his feet. And then a night of revelry leads to a drunken encounter and he must ask himself a horrific question.

With the help of assault counsellor, Zara Kaleel, Kamran reports the incident in the hopes that will be the end of it. But it’s only the beginning…

Powerful, explosive and important, Truth Be Told is a contemporary courtroom drama that vividly captures today’s society. You will not stop thinking about it for a long time to come.

MY REVIEW: 

I’m still reeling from this phenomenal thriller. It’s one I devoured, foregoing sleep to read it in one sitting as I found it impossible to put down. 

Zara Kaleel is back and finds herself embroiled in another high profile case when Kamran Hadid comes to her for help. Kamram claims he was raped in his room at a prestigious boarding school after passing out drunk after a party. But his alleged attacker claims it was consensual. Why wouldn’t he say no if he didn’t want it? Why just let him carry on? 

When Kamran decides to persue the case, the question of consent is examined in great detail and leaves both boys attempting to grapple with the truth of what their actions, and inactions, that night meant. Full of shocking twists and turns, when the truth is finally revealed it will leave your jaw on the floor. 

He tried to give shape to the weight of his trauma. He thought of it as a thick bar of florescent light that hummed from throat to groin. Real healing with dim that light, snuff out sections until it grew dark – but how could he heal if he couldn’t remember? Instead, he would push down the pain until it was a sun-bright penny lodged in his gut. That’s where he’d let it burn.”

Truth Be Told examines a topic rarely discussed with truth and sensitivity, highlighting the complex layers of emotion and perception that accompany male rape. The author also addresses the intricacies and blurred lines of consent, and the prejudice faced by gay men in the Muslim community. Like her fantastic debut, it is an intelligent, well-written, powerful and thought-provoking novel that will stay with the reader long after reading the final page. 

Zara is a brilliant character to base a series on because she stands out from the saturated crowd of other protagonists. She is a modern, liberal Asian woman, trying to balance her family’s cultural expectations and traditions with her Western life and personal desires. This pressure has led to a misuse of narcotics that she’s seeking treatment for in this novel, adding another layer to her flawed character. 

The other characters are all equally as compelling and richly drawn. Kamran Hadid was the one who took my heart. Maybe it’s because I have two boys of a similar age that I couldn’t help putting in his shoes, but this kid broke me. The rainbow of emotions he’s feeling lept from the page and went straight to my soul. It was heart-rending to read his journey; the effect the trauma had on every facet of his life, changing him forever. It takes immeasurable strength for any victim to stand up against their attacker, and I had such admiration for Kamram in his refusal to be a silent victim. 

But the author doesn’t make it that easy. She also tells the story from the alleged attacker’s perspective. And while at the start he’s clearly sure it was consensual, there soon becomes hints that he’s hiding something. Though we don’t know what. We also witness his devastation as he faces the fact that Kamran views what happened as rape. That what Finn views as a mistake is a traumatic attack in Kamran’s eyes tears him apart, but he also feels sure that without a clear no it was consensual. I found myself feeling sympathy for what Finn was going through, then felt mad at myself for doing so. After all, whether he meant to or not, he raped someone. Didn’t he?

Fast-paced, hard-hitting and intense, this is not your typical legal thriller. Kia Abdullah has just cemented her place on my list of auto-buy authors. Outstanding and addictive, this is one I can’t recommend highly enough. 

Rating: ✮✮✮✮✮

MEET THE AUTHOR:
*From Kia’s Website

Kia Abdullah is an author and travel writer from London. Her novel Take It Back was named one of the best thrillers of th year by The Guardian and Telegraph and was selected for an industry-first audio serialisation by HarperCollins and The Pigeonhole. Her follow-up novel, Truth Be Told, is out in September 2020 (HQ/HarperCollins).

Kia has written for The New York TimesThe GuardianThe Telegraph and The Times, and is the founder of Asian Booklist, a non-profit organisation that advocates for diversity in publishing. 

Born in Tower Hamlets in East London, Kia was raised in a family of eight children. As the most stubborn of six daughters, she constantly found herself in trouble for making choices that clashed with her parents’, a habit they came to accept when she became their first and only child to graduate from university – with a degree in Computer Science.

In 2007, Kia left her job in tech to pursue the one thing she had always wanted: a career as a writer, taking a 50% pay cut in the process. She worked as sub-editor and later features editor at Asian Woman Magazine where she interviewed British-Asian luminaries like Riz Ahmed, Meera Syal, Anoushka Shankar and Nitin Sawnhey. 

Kia went on to join global publisher Penguin Random House where she helped grow digital readership at Rough Guides to over a million users per month. In 2014, she quit her day job to found Atlas & Boots, an outdoor travel blog now read by 250,000 people a month. 

Today, she splits her time between London and the Yorkshire Dales town of Richmond, and spends her time writing, hiking, mentoring pupils from Tower Hamlets and visiting far-flung destinations for Atlas & Boots.

Kia loves to travel, hates to cook and periodically highlights that, in actual fact, she is one of nine children (one passed away), making her Seven of Nine… which is cool but only if you’re a Star Trek fan… which she is. But please don’t hold it against her.

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