They told her that her body belonged to men and her mind didn’t matter. They were wrong.I Am Change Synopsis
“What if I don’t want to marry?” Lillian held her breath. She had never said the words out loud. “Not want to marry?” Her aunt frowned. “What else would you do?”
Set in a Ugandan village, Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people’s ideas of what a girl is. In her village a girl is not meant to be smarter than her brother. A girl is not meant to go to school or enjoy her body or decide who to marry. Especially if she is poor.
I have tried to start this review about 5 times, I’m just not really sure what to say. In this case, it’s because of how great this book is. I was already a big advocate for the organization Concern for the Girl Child, which helps educate and make sure girls are given choices in Uganda. So I was no stranger to the horrors that happen within this book. The way girls and women are treated.
All that being said, WOW this book was powerful and well written, and with obvious concern and care and sensitivity that was required. It is not an own voices novel but the author did extensive research including interviewing 30 girls in Uganda and have them read and edit the final manuscript.
The result is a stunning heart wrenching and utterly beautiful novel highlighting the inequality that exists in Uganda and the harsh realities of being a girl there. I personally found it was all written in a way that didn’t try to shame these cultures for their traditions, and their need to follow them to survive.
The story itself:
Lillian is such a strong character and so realistic I feel like I could go over to Uganda and meet her. Her struggles are heart-wrenching and her triumphs exhilarating. Each step of the novel you want to champion for her as she continually knocks back.
What echos again and again in this book is how trauma shapes us all. From a mother so traumatised, she can no longer smile To a brother who grows distant due to the trauma of watching his sister married off. Every single character her carries the heavy burden of trauma and each of them strives in their own way to lessen the burden on others.
I care for each of these characters, especially the women who at times do the wrong thing in their effort to protect their daughters. I appreciate how dark this story got at times highlighting how hard it is for Lillian. This book does not shy away from the realities of life for girls in Uganda. But it also shows girls doing what they can to get ahead.
Both the Foreward by Namukasa Nusula Sarah and the Author’s note share and highlight how real this story is, Lillian’s story is made up of hundreds of real things that happened to real girls out there. As Lillian says “It is up to us to convince our parents that we can do anything boys can do… Be the change.”
I give I Am Change 5 out of 5 stars.
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A Review Copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in exchange for an honest review.