Book Club Pick: October 2019
Title: I Am Change
Author: Suzy Zail
Series: Stand alone novel
Publisher: Black Dog Books
First Published: 2019
Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people’s ideas of what a girl is.
In Lilian’s 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.
Inspired by the true accounts of young Uganda women, I Am Change is the tragic but empowering story of how a girl finds her voice and the strength to fight for change.
I am Change follows Lilian, a young woman from a rural village in Uganda, who dreams of writing stories and has ambitions of becoming a teacher.
Unfortunately for Lilian in her village young women are often pressured into marriages arranged by their parents. It is expected that the young woman’s focus will be producing sons and caring for her husband’s needs. Many young women do not complete their education as these arranged marriages will occur when they are a teenager.
I understand the importance of Own Voices literature so I had my reservations reading a novel about a young impoverished Uganda woman written by a white Australian former solicitor.
It is not my place to say whether it is Zail’s place to tell this story. It is clear that she has done her research and treats the subject matter with respect.
In 2015, Zail met Nakamya Lilian, a 29-year-old woman from Uganda, who was visiting Australia. She told Zail her story of growing up in an improvised rural village and her ambitions and struggles to get an education.
Zail flew to Uganda and interviewed thirty young girls, and their stories are the basis for the novel. One of those young women Namukasa Nusula Sarah read each draft and wrote the foreword for the book.
The novel tackles some strong issues around women’s rights, such as a patriarchal education system, female circumcision, arranged marriages, prostitution, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
Although I am Change is confronting and challenging at times it is optimistic and hopeful, and inspires and advocates for change.
Source: I borrowed this book from my public library.