A selection of the world’s finest writers for young people – in conjunction with Amnesty International UK – explore the rights and freedoms still lacking in today’s society, covering issues such as gender equality, race hatred, surveillance, identity and freedom of speech.
Full list of contributors: Tony Birch, John Boyne, Sita Brahmachari, Kevin Brooks, Kate Charlesworth, Sarah Crossan, Neil Gaiman, Jack Gantos, Ryan Gattis, Matt Haig, Frances Hardinge, Jackie Kay, AL Kennedy, Liz Kessler, Elizabeth Laird, Amy Leon, Sabrina Mahfouz, Chelsea Manning, Chibundu Onuzo, Bali Rai, Chris Riddell, Mary and Bryan Talbot, Christie Watson and Tim Wynne-Jones.
I don’t think anything I say about this anthology of stories and poems that communicate some of the most confronting and unimaginable things that take place in our world would effectively sum up how deeply moving and often confronting Here I Stand really is. Being a white woman living in Australia, I understand just how privileged I am — but I think that’s something a lot of people forget about. Reading Here I Stand not only again revealed to me how much I take for granted, whether that be an education, a safe and loving home or the right to be treated as an equal in the society around me, but also acted as a call to action, prompting me stand up against the injustices of our world and to help make a change.
As the stories and pieces of prose that have been collected by Amnesty International all revolve around the issues and complexities of domestic violence, child abuse, refugees, war zones and equality, you’d be right in assuming this often isn’t an easy read. It’s confronting and deep, leaving no room for the fluff that too often populates the shelves of bookstores. In that respect, Here I Stand would have to one of my favourite books of this year. Not because it’s entertaining or transports me to another world, but because its raw and honest portrayal of the world we live in and reminds us of how far we still have to go. It’s something that we often forget about in our day-to-day lives, living in the bubble of comfort we all reside in, that many people don’t have the same freedom and the same luxuries or even rights as we do. But Here I Stand forces us to recognise our privilege and, in the heart-wrenching and brutally real stories it tells, compels us to take a stand against these injustices.
For me, the most moving thing about this book was the underlying message that every person can initiate change and that standing together with our fellow citizens against these atrocities that are sickeningly blanketed by the commercialised world can lead to the downfall of the brutal acts that seek to dehumanise people. While reading about these cruel and unfathomably awful occurrences might be tough and force us to confront our own barbarity, or our state of equally destructive ignorance, having the knowledge of what is going on in the world around us, perhaps even in our own neighbourhood, is something we should all strive for. No matter how much you read, your age or your location, I highly recommend picking up a copy of Here I Stand.
Does Here I Stand sound like the kind of book you’d be interested in picking up? Have you read any books that discuss similar ideas and revolve around similar themes? I’d love to hear your thoughts!
Thanks to Walker Books Australia for providing me with this book in exchange for an honest review!