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Stunning Ayaan Mohamud debut tackles Islamophobia

You Think You Know Me by Ayaan Mohamud is out on 2 February 2023, published in paperback by Usborne YA, £8.99

“Powerful, heart-breaking and unflinching in its honesty. You Think You Know Me features an unforgettable main character whose voice demands to be heard. Hanan’s story lingers long after the final page.”

Ravena Guron, author of This Book Kills

Meet Hanan Ali, a hardworking 17-year-old student at North West London’s Grafton Grammar School with big dreams of pursuing a career in medicine.

Hanan has always been good and quiet. She follows her faith and follows the school rules, accepting her role as Grafton’s perfect Muslim poster girl. She ignores the racist bullies. Then tragedy strikes…a local man is murdered, and suddenly every Muslim is to blame.

Ten years after losing her father whilst escaping Somalia’s civil war, Hanan now finds herself the target of Islamophobia. How can she stay silent while her family is ripped apart once again? It’s time for Hanan to stop being the quiet, good girl. But can she find the courage to speak her truth in the face of so much hate?

A brave exposé of the harsh realities of Islamophobia, institutional racism, bullying and gang culture in modern Britain, You Think You Know Me by 25-year-old talented author Ayaan Mohamud is a fresh and authentic debut.

Told through the lens of a refugee, the story is informed by Ayaan’s personal experiences of Islamophobia, as a young Somali growing up in North West London, as well as the haunting stories of others, while celebrating her colourful, wholesome and vibrant Somali culture, with the language, food, clothing and community beautifully woven into the narrative.

Compelled to write the story following the tragic deaths of Shukri Abdi, a 12-year-old Somali refugee, and Lee Rigby, a British Army soldier, Ayaan was keen to shine a light on the real-life stories behind the headlines. She explores how the backlash from a crime committed by a Muslim affects an entire community and leads to a vicious cycle of violence.

Offering insight into what it’s like to be confronted with Islamophobia at school during a time when hate crimes against Muslims are on the rise, this inspiring and powerful story is about finding the strength to speak up against hate, fear and injustice.

Ayaan aims to unite and create much-needed empathy and understanding among young generations of readers. She said:

“Like most Muslims living in the West, I have never forgotten the first time I experienced Islamophobia, and the fear of being abused because of my faith has always been a constant shadow. I wanted to explore this in You Think You Know Me, and also consider how different this experience might be from the point of view of a refugee who has already faced so much in a difficult world.

“This story is everything I never read in books growing up because Hanan actively chooses her faith. It’s a beautiful part of her character that I was excited to write and for readers to see and I hope too that it proves educational for people who may not know much about Islam.

“Up until now, the representation of Muslim characters in Young Adult books has been dire, and this is amplified when you consider the lack of characters who are visibly Muslim or who actively practise their faith. I believe it is vitally important that representation of all groups is shown across the spectrum of lived experiences and I can’t wait to see how readers respond to Hanan and her inspirational story.”


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