I really loved Aisha’s story in A Change is Gonna Come so I was really looking forward to reading her debut book and it did not disappoint!
Synopsis from Goodreads:
Safiya and her mum have never seen eye to eye. Her mum doesn’t understand Safiya’s love of gaming and Safiya doesn’t think they have anything in common. As Safiya struggles to fit in at school she wonders if her mum wishes she was more like her confident best friend Elle. But then her mum falls into a coma and, when Safiya waits by her bedside, she finds herself in a strange alternative world that looks a bit like one of her games. And there’s a rebellious teenage girl, with a secret, who looks suspiciously familiar . . .
This is a book that I wish I had been able to read when I was younger and trying to navigate my way through high school. It deals with friendships and bullying and growing up and changing. Everything that a lot of young people can struggle with. And the way Aisha deals with these issues is so beautifully done.
Reading a book where Safiya learns that it is okay to not be interested in the same things that other girls are interested in and want to talk about boys was so refreshing to read. High school can be so difficult for so many reasons and peer pressure being one of them. You feel like you have to like what the other girls and your friends like. But Safiya learns that it’s actually okay to continue to enjoy video games and have her own interests that are different from her friends. It doesn’t make her childish and she doesn’t need to “grow up” and like the same things as her friends. I loved seeing that so much!
“Being brave is about doing something even when it scares you.”
One of the themes in the book is friendship and how as you grown and change you can find yourself drifting apart from those who were your best friends. Safiya feels like she needs to hold on to those friendships because it is safe and constant in her life, even when that friendship is no longer safe and starts to become toxic. But slowly she learns that she shouldn’t stay friends with someone who is toxic to her and that it is okay to let go, that it is okay to become friends with others as your interests change and align with them. It can be painful but it will be okay. I also really loved how Safiya learns to stand up for herself and for those who are being bullied. It was so great to see these things in the book.
Aisha’s writing is beautiful and her descriptions are vivid that I felt like I was right there with Safiya. I loved the magic of Safiya seeing her mother’s memories and learning about her mum. The sounds and smells and tastes, oh the food descriptions! I just wanted to eat everything! The journey she takes to learn about her mum especially as at the time she wasn’t seeing eye to eye with her mum, not only helped her to understand her mum better but it was also a journey of self discovery.
“If you cut mum and me open we’d be filled with the very same fire, glowing red and orange and gold.”
This book is beautifully written and I really think that young people should read this book, in fact everyone go read this book!