Goodreads summary of Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah (review below):
Kamran Hadid feels invincible. He attends Hampton School, an elite all-boys boarding school in London, he comes from a wealthy family, and he has a place at Oxford next year. The world is at his feet. And then, a night of revelry leads to a drunken encounter, and he must ask himself a horrific question. With the help of assault counselor Zara Kaleel, Kamran reports the incident in the hopes that will be the end of it. But it’s only the beginning…
Powerful, explosive, and important, Truth Be Told is a contemporary courtroom drama that vividly captures today’s society. You will not stop thinking about it for a long time to come.
Five Reasons To Read Truth Be Told By Kia Abdullah
Quite Simply: Kia Abdullah
Whether Kia Abdullah is writing Domestic Thrillers or Courtroom Dramas, she is queen. They both have one thing in common: Kia Abdullah is able to weave a multitude of themes that are focused on diversity without losing the suspense. And not just that diversity that is included, but her ability to dig deep with a lack of fear, makes her writing a relentless pursuit of shining a light on these issues. She is a master.
I have read every single book Kia Abdullah has written (see link for a complete list). Unfortunately, because of my hiatus, Truth Be Told is my first full review. However, I did feature other books in Things That Make Me Want To Pick Up A Book (linked) and Part One Of The Best Books I’ve Recently Read(linked), and I did a Can’t Wait Wednesday for Truth Be Told (linked). Kia Abdullah has never let me down, and Truth Be Told is no exception. Although it is a part of the Zara Kaleel (#2) series, Truth Be Told can definitely be read as a stand-alone. However, my recommendation is to read Take It Back. Not because you need to, but because everyone should.
Societal Male Themes
Everyone knows my love of women authors (especially thrillers) that include women’s issues that no one talks about, or maybe they talk about them but don’t do anything. Welp, now I know that when done well, a female author can do the same for men. It is easy to say that there aren’t any to talk about, except that there are. And Kia Abdullah captivates readers with the ones she attacks. While this is a male/male rape drama (I will get to that in a bit), that is far from the only issue she addresses.
‘And what if we had a daughter? Would you force her to learn to shoot? Shame her for crying when hurt? Shove her the way you do Kamran? Masculinity is a cage, Mack. And you put him in that cage.’
Truth Be Told By Kia Abdullah will release in the States on August 29th. It is already available on Audible.
The Treatment And Bias Around Male Rape
From the beginning, Kia Abdullah fearlessly demonstrates the bias about male raped. By aiming at people that automatically think men are trying to hide being gay, that they defend themselves easier than women, or that embarrassment trumps all the other emotions that come with such a violation, Truth Be Told is relentless in the best possible way. By bringing in so many different angles to address this theme, Kia Abdullah avoids the trap of feeling like she is beating a dead horse.
Her writing has such emotional veracity that these ideas stay with you for a long time. They make you question your own value system and beliefs around male rape. Do you believe that alcohol isn’t the only reason a male would report male/male rape? Or do you believe it is a sexual shame, as well? With a situation that is rarely discussed, Kia Abdullah forces you to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. Everyone has blinders. What are yours? Has it ever even crossed your mind?
‘<Your mother> will understand, Kamran. You don’t have to feel embarrassed’… Zahra felt her conscious needle. You don’t need to feel embarrassed… Why is it she seldom used that word with women, but reached for it first with Kamran? As it should be the for most emotion in a man that had been raped.
Effect On The Accused, Accuser, And Those Around Them
*I’m using that language to avoid spoilers.
It is on full display. If there wasn’t enough depth, Kia Abdullah also brings the lens of being a Muslim male that is raped. What are the additional effects on a family that centers itself on Muslim identification? Can you be both gay and Muslim? This isn’t my question to answer, but one of many that Kia Abdullah raises with authenticity. The life, beliefs, and identification of being Muslim aren’t my lane to discuss, so I’m not going in depth.
I will say that as a non-Muslim, I have learned a lot about these pressures through both Take It Back and Truth Be Told. Both books have left a lasting effect on my own lens of cultures I might not understand/have little knowledge of.
She even manages to thread in how male toxicity is a domino effect on society.
‘Without fixing problemetic men, without changing the systems that make them that way, we can’t improve things for women.’
Narcotics Abuse And Trauma
Zara Kaleel is facing her own demons throughout Truth Be Told. Due to trauma, she begins to lean heavily on prescription medications. Although she joins Narcotics Anonymous to become clean, her daily struggles are weaved throughout Truth Be Told. Moreover, her involvement in this trial is shown to exasperate her addictions. It is yet another angle Kia Abdullah brings to Truth Be Told.
There are many more reasons to read Kia Abdullah’s Truth Be Told. This is a suspenseful courtroom drama that won’t let you off the hook. Tell me if you plan to read it, or when you have, come back to this review and let me know what you think!