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Internment: 09/16/19


Internment by Samira Ahmed is set in the present and is built on assumptions made during the early months of Trump's administration — namely the Muslim ban. It supposes a world similar to what the Japanese experienced post Pearl Harbor.

Layla Amin and her parents are stuck at home, she no longer able to attend school and they unemployed. There's a curfew, which Layla breaks to spend time with her boyfriend, David. It's important to note that he's Jewish, with and immigrant / refugee background.

Having been nearly caught during one curfew, Layla and her family are rounded up by government officials, working under the once defunct Secretary of War. Like the Japanese and Japanese-Americans, they are taken to Los Angeles, put on buses and driven out to a containment facility somewhere between Manzanar and Independence.

The remainder of the novel is at the camp, a place patrolled my guards and drones, and overseen by a brutal man known only as the Director. Layla refuses to be broken by her circumstances. She also refuses to play along as her parents tell her she should. Instead, she and a few friends she makes, begin testing the system and finding ways to rebel, and how to get messages to the outside.

Ahmed's description of the camp ends up being too optimistic compared to the reality of the detention centers where immigrants — especially children — have been kept at for months under this administration. Yes, her place is dusty, dirty, isolated, and the food bland, but there's still water, food, adequate places to sleep.

This novel also sits on the road narrative spectrum. Layla and the others because of what the government has done, are marginalized travelers (66). Their destination is the wildlands — a dusty camp along highway 395, away from the lives they've been living (99). Their route there is the Blue Highway (33). Altogether, Interment is the story of marginalized travelers being taken to the wildlands via the Blue Highway (669933).

Five stars

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