You Think You Know Me by Ayaan Mohamud
Published: February 2nd 2023 by Usborne
Rating: ★★★★½ (4.5)
Genre: Young Adult // Contemporary
Quick Thoughts: A powerful, unputdownable novel that leaves a lasting, permanent touch on the reader.
About The Book:
A stunning debut about finding the strength to speak up against hate and fear, for fans of The Hate U Give and I Am Thunder.
Hanan has always been encouraged to be a good girl, a quiet girl, never making trouble. When her classmates treat her as a target for their racist bullying, and her teachers use her as their perfect Muslim poster girl, she keeps smiling and keeps her mouth shut. They don’t see past her headscarf, but she knows she is so much more than that. Then a local man is murdered, tensions run high and Muslims become targets for even worse abuse. After a terrifying attack, Hanan decides that it’s time to make her voice heard…it’s time to shake the world.
When You Think You Know Me arrived on my doorstep, thanks to the lovely Usborne team, I was immediately intrigued—not only because I’m an advocate for anti-hate and inclusivity, but because opening the cover for a peak at the writing, I couldn’t stop reading. So I knew it was going to have me hooked.
Hanan has always been the good, quiet, well-behaved girl that she not wants to be, but has to be. She’s already a target for bullying by a group at school her friends call The Braids (mean girls amped up) and being loud, speaking up, would make her more of a target for their hate. Even her teachers use her for her image as their flawless, poster child for a Muslim student at the school. But Hanan has dreams, wishes, and desires to speak her mind and stand up for herself and every other person that gets the same racist undertones (which is just blatant racism most of the time.)
When a murder occurs close to her school, something changes. Muslims are becoming a target for hate—even more so than usual, as horrifying as it is—and it gets personal. As one of the few girls at her school that wear a headscarf, she knows all too well what appearances play in hatred. And when she and her twin brother are hurt, something in Hanan changes. She knows what she has to do—raise her voice, gather those close to her that will stand with her against the hate, and make a difference that no one will be able to ignore.
Overall, You Think You Know Me was so many things; riveting, heart-breaking, impactful and, despite the underlying reasons behind the book’s message, had so much love; characters who’s love for one another spills well beyond the pages. Whilst some of the pace felt slow in places, Hanan’s was a great POV to read, and I thought her family were so caring and supportive. Whilst her friendship group goes through trials and tribulations, they come out strong, and I loved their connection. I especially loved Hanan’s connection with her brother, too. This was such a powerful, unputdownable novel that leaves a lasting, permanent touch on the reader, shining a light on how hurtful and devastating hate crimes truly are. Highly recommend!
About The Author
Ayaan Mohamud wrote her first ever book in lockdown and during NaNoWriMo, while also studying as a medical student, and it became her debut novel. It was inspired by her own experiences of Islamophobia and a desire to write about Somali culture which she hopes to shine more of a light on in YA. She lives in London and can usually be found either writing or complaining about writing. When she isn’t doing either of those things, you may find her simply annoying her sisters or daydreaming.