Wednesday, 1 February 2017

Here I Stand: Stories That Speak For Freedom by Amnesty International

Reviewer: JJ Marsh

What we thought: A crucial collection of stories with the aim of bringing home the importance of human rights. The target audience is young adult, but these stories pack a pile-driver punch for any age group.

Artists such as Neil Gaiman, Jackie Kay, Matt Haig, Chibundu Onzuno, Amy Leon, John Boyne, A.L. Kennedy, Bali Rai, Chris Riddell and Sita Bramachari tackle subjects ranging across abuse, trafficking, asylum-seeking, FGM, religious extremism, women’s suffrage, indigenous people and pollution.

Through stories. Personal, individual stories, drawing the reader into empathy and loyalty when confronted by the struggles of the varied protagonists.

No lectures here, just slices of individual experience which underline the hardships and injustice suffered so many young people. It’s not neat, sweet or sparkly, but it is compelling. Good writing makes you feel and this book is stuffed with feeling.

The majority are short stories, interjected with poetry and visual narratives, ending with an interview with Chelsea Manning. Each piece is short, leaving you time to think and digest between. It’s not an easy read, but one you feel glad to have experienced. I would recommend for everyone.

This is a golden opportunity to step into someone else’s shoes and acknowledge one’s own responsibility and power. It’s also a salutary reminder of why we should never stop fighting for human rights.

You’ll enjoy this if you liked: Animal Farm, The Boy in Striped Pyjamas, Nervous Conditions, A Thousand Splendid Suns, anything by Judy Blume.

Avoid if you don’t like: Harsh truths about the way some people are forced to live.

Ideal accompaniments: Unsweetened homemade lemonade, fish jerky and the sound of a distant train.

Available on Amazon

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