One of our recommended books is Fight Back by A.M. Dassu

FIGHT BACK


Thirteen-year-old Aaliyah can’t wait for a concert by her favorite K-pop boy band, 3W. She isn’t too concerned with stories on the news about the rise of the far right—after all, it doesn’t affect her—until a terrorist attack at the concert changes everything.

Local racists are emboldened and anti-Muslim rhetoric starts cropping up at school and on the street. When Aaliyah starts getting bullied, she knows she has to do something to stand up to the hate. She decides that, instead of hiding who she is, she will begin wearing a hijab for the first time, to challenge how people in her community see Muslims.

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Thirteen-year-old Aaliyah can’t wait for a concert by her favorite K-pop boy band, 3W. She isn’t too concerned with stories on the news about the rise of the far right—after all, it doesn’t affect her—until a terrorist attack at the concert changes everything.

Local racists are emboldened and anti-Muslim rhetoric starts cropping up at school and on the street. When Aaliyah starts getting bullied, she knows she has to do something to stand up to the hate. She decides that, instead of hiding who she is, she will begin wearing a hijab for the first time, to challenge how people in her community see Muslims.

But when her school bans the hijab and she is attacked and intimidated for making her choice, Aaliyah feels alone. Can she find allies–friends to stand beside her and help her find ways to fight back?

Acclaimed author A. M. Dassu’s follow-up to Boy, Everywhere is an essential read to encourage empathy, challenge stereotypes, and encourage positive action.

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  • Tu Books
  • Hardcover
  • October 2022
  • 384 Pages
  • 9781643795881

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$21.95

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About A. M. Dassu

A.M. Dassu is the author of Fight BackA. M. DASSU won the international We Need Diverse Books mentorship award in 2017. She is the deputy editor of SCBWI-British Isles’ Words & Pictures magazine and a director at Inclusive Minds, an organization for people who are passionate about inclusion, diversity, equality, and accessibility in children’s literature. Her work has been published by The Huffington Post, the Times Educational Supplement, SCOOP Magazine, Lee & Low Books, and DK Books. She lives in the heart of England. You can find her on Twitter as @a_reflective.

Author Website

 

Praise

“This group of committed friends will win readers’ hearts.” Kirkus Reviews

Discussion Questions

1. What does the title Fight Back mean to you after reading? Why do you think the author chose this particular title?

2. How does Aaliyah’s find her identity throughout the story? Is Aaliyah sure of her identity at the beginning of the story? What about at end of the story?

3. How does Aaliyah’s character change and evolve from the beginning of the book versus the end of the book?

4. What do Aaliyah’s friends throughout the book teach her? How do Sukhi, Lisa, and her friends in the Gamechangers help Aaliyah cope with the situation and make her think differently about her life? How do each of them give Aaliyah perspective? Why does Mum not want Aaliyah to wear her hijab to school? Why do you think she is hesitant to accept that Aaliyah wants to begin wearing a hijab?

5. What lessons does Aaliyah learn about honesty and responsibility? What mistakes help her learn about what is important in life?

6. How does Aaliyah use her passion for freedom of expression and identity to fight for what she believes in? Who helps her in the fight against the religious symbols ban at school? What does this show you about the true meaning of friendship?

7. How does Aaliyah change her thinking on confronting those individuals who have caused her harm (Darren, Jayden, Sasha)? How does she first approach the situation and individuals? How does she approach those individuals and the difficult situations they put her in?

8. What does Aaliyah reflect on at the end of the book? What do you think she realizes? What lesson(s) does Aaliyah realize at the end of the story?

9. What does family mean to you after reading this story? Have any of your perceptions or feelings toward family members changed after reading this book? How do Aaliyah’s relationships with her family members inspire you to act toward your own family and friends?

10. Explore the structure of this text. Does the story describe events chronologically, as comparison, cause and effect, or problems and solutions? Why do you think the author structured the text the way she did? How does this story compare to other texts you have read?

11. As a reader, how did you feel throughout the book? What thoughts and emotions did you experience as you read Fight Back? What did you learn about what is means to be an ally? How did this story connect to your life? What moments did you identify with? Why?

12. Read about author is A. M. Dassu’s life (amdassu.com). What inspired her to write this story? How can our own lives and experiences be mined for inspiration? How can real life be used in fiction writing?

Excerpt

Maths — we had a substitute teacher in. And he was SO boring. I could barely keep my eyes open as he droned on about ratios. We’d covered this last week but I don’t think the teacher knew, so I looked out of the window at the tiny Year Sevens squealing and shouting as they played cricket on the sunlit field. Someone prodded my shoulder from behind and I jumped.

“Aaliyah!”
When I turned, Sukhi handed me a folded note.

Huh? She didn’t do this kind of thing.

She shrugged and mouthed, “Jayden.”

A note from Jayden? Bad boy from the back of the class to me at the front? Weird. I glanced at the teacher — he wasn’t watching, so I dropped it in my lap.

He had totally misspelled my name. Ignoramus. I unfolded the paper slowly to make sure nothing fell out; you never knew what Jayden and his gang were going to do. But there was just a black scrawl in the middle.

I felt another nudge on my shoulder. Sukhi splayed her hands, asking me what it said. Three tables behind, Jayden’s blue eyes pierced into me. He was grinning, his two goofball mates mirroring him. I don’t know how they got into the top set in maths.

“One sec,” I whispered to Sukhi before turning to read it.

Is the London attacker one of your uncles? I heard your dad got the weapons from Pakistan for him.

Heat rose in my cheeks. My chest tightened. He was blaming my family for the terrorist incident in London flashing all over the news this morning. As if we were all related.

Ugh. I hate him, I hate him, HATE HIM.

I didn’t want to give Jayden the satisfaction of seeing he’d got to me. I scrunched up the note and shoved it in my bag, picked up my pen, and tried to focus on what the teacher was saying.

Ignore them, I told myself. Their brains are full of snot. They haven’t got a clue about anything.

“So, what’d it say?” Sukhi caught up with me as I pushed through the door, trying to race out of class
before Jayden got a chance to say anything else. “Did he ask you out?”

“NO!” I shouted a lot louder than I’d intended, my voice carrying over the rabble of kids in the tiled
corridor.

“All right! Calm down! What did it say, then?” She rubbed her hands together. Sukhi was always cold,
even in the middle of May.

“I don’t wanna talk about it, Sukhi. Not here.”

“Okay, okay. But you have to show me later.” She adjusted her backpack strap and linked her arm in
mine. “Have you done your biology homework? Bet it took you, like, five minutes.”

“ ’Course. Would be pretty embarrassing for a future doctor not to know how to label an eye, right?”

“Don’t you start with your gory eye stories. Bleurgh.” Sukhi rolled her own eyes dramatically and pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose.

“Ha! I’ve got a new one, but I’ll save it till lunch!”

“Great! So much to look forward to.” She raised her neatly shaped brows.

“What you got now?” I asked