Set in a horrifying near-future United States, seventeen-year-old Layla Amin and her parents are forced into an internment camp for Muslim American citizens.
With the help of newly made friends also trapped within the internment camp, her boyfriend on the outside, and an unexpected alliance, Layla begins a journey to fight for freedom, leading a revolution against the internment camp’s Director and his guards.
Heart-racing and emotional, Internment challenges readers to fight complicit silence that exists in our society today.
LB School: How did the ideas for each of your books come to you, and why did you feel that they were stories that needed to be told?
Samira Ahmed: I always see a character first and then begin by writing a short story around that character to see if the story has legs, to see if this is a character I want to build a world around. After the November 2015 terrorist attacks in Paris, there was a significant uptick in Islamobphobic rhetoric in the United States that spread to changes in policy and an increase in anti-Muslim hate crimes. There was a public guilting or scapegoating of Muslims as if all Muslims had to bear the onus of the terrible acts committed by a few. American Muslims, as ever, were seen as other, a group that continually and consistently was being asked to prove its Americanness, but always falling short because of bigoted standards.
That was the environment in which Layla’s story came to me. I imagined a young woman who just wanted to live her life—go to school, play on the tennis team, apply to college—but who wasn’t allowed to because of fear mongering and Islamophobia. I’m very interested in understanding and unpacking the moments in childhood where life is shattered—how kids react to that gross unfairness, how they respond, how they resist. I believe that teens can be incredibly brave—are often forced to be—because of the failure and cowardice of adults. It doesn’t mean they’re not scared—their courage comes from being scared but knowing act and speak out anyway. That is what I set out to explore in Internment.
*Taking on Islamophobia and racism in a Trump-like America, Ahmed's magnetic, gripping narrative written in a deeply humane and authentic tone, is attentive to the richness and complexity of the social ills at the heart of the book.—Kirkus, starred review
"A riveting and cautionary tale. Internment urges us to speak up and speak out, to ask questions and demand answers, and when those answers prove unsatisfactory, to resist."— Stacey Lee, award-winning author of Outrun the Moon
"Internment is a visceral, essential book, both horrifying and hopeful. Ahmed deserves a spot on every book shelf in America."— Kiersten White, New York Times Bestselling author of And I Darken and The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein
"Internment is a scathing indictment of our current political times. Ahmed has gifted us Layla, a courageous young revolutionary who fights against all boundaries of hate and ignorance. A must read for activists who continue to push back against the big What-Ifs."—National Book Award finalist Ibi Zoboi, author of American Street and Pride
"A powerful and poignant exploration of a nightmare made real. It's a testament to Ahmed's writing then, that the heart of the story is one of hope. Read INTERNMENT. Raise a fist."—David Arnold, New York Times bestselling author of Moquitoland and Kids of Appetite
"The Hate U Give meets The Handmaid's Tale in this slightly futuristic and dystopian version of America in which Muslim Americans are placed in internment camps. A revelation."—Christine Stamper, Bookbug, Kalamazoo, MI
"Terrifying, inspiring, heart-pounding, and incredibly timely. With an ultimately hopeful voice, Samira Ahmed shows how one person and small acts of bravery can spark a flame of resistance and inspire others to bring change."—Lauren Nopenz Fairley, Curious Iguana, Frederick, MD