Internment by Samira Ahmed

Internment cover

Internment is a powerful young adult novel set in near-future America, in which a seventeen-year-old girl has to try and fight for revolution. Layla and her parents have been sent to the first internment camp for Muslim Americans, ripped away from their home and lives. There, Layla finds friends and allies as she fights to get contact with her boyfriend on the outside to share what is happening and to rebel against the camp’s Director and guards.

The real terror of Internment is how close it is to the present-day United States, with the narrative making it clear how few additional nudges are needed. In addition, there is a deep-running theme about complicity and about how not standing up to something can be the same as letting it happen. This is not only how non-Muslim people either allowed or actively voted for the laws and internment camp seen in the novel, but also how people can turn on those who rebel. Having the novel from Layla’s perspective shows the personal side to the horror of the camp—how they are imprisoned, watched, and controlled—and also her anger and how difficult it is to find ways to channel that anger into protests that will actually make a difference.

Internment is a novel that will make readers think, teenagers and adults alike. It is intense, but hopeful, and it shows how important solidarity and rebellion are. It seems like YA fiction is really a powerful voice in showing present realities and possible futures, particularly with regards to racism and Islamophobia.