It is difficult to know where to start a review of a book as extraordinary as Corinna Turner’s Someday. I am not a fan of YA fiction as a rule but my attention was drawn to this book because of the parallels with my own novel about the enslavement of Christian girls.
However, rather than exploring historical slavery, Turner’s novel is a retelling of the harrowing story that made global headlines when girls from a Nigerian boarding school were abducted by Boko Haram, many of them never to be seen again. (The novel is endorsed by Archbishop Ignatius Kaigama of Jos, Nigeria.) The author challenges readers to consider how they would feel if girls from their own country were snatched and abused in that way. Therefore, the Nigerian school becomes a British school for girls; the children who are abducted feel familiar: Becky the aspiring ballerina, Gemma the obstreperous kid determined to survive whatever the cost, Ruth the kind Catholic girl, Yoko the newbie from Japan who has come to England to learn the language.
The characters involved in the search feel equally close to home—the Muslim twins in the Territorial Army struggling to prevent a family member becoming radicalised, Theresa a busker on the streets of Oxford. As the novel charts the girls’ horrific journey into slavery from their abduction in the middle of the night to their voyage on board a ship bound for an unknown destination, the reader is left with the persistent question: how would I feel if this were my sister? My daughter? My best friend?
The novel is not without faults. The author uses multiple perspective very skillfully to accommodate a range of viewpoints, but there are so many different characters represented that at times I lost track of which character was which, and some are more convincingly drawn than others. The girls themselves are believable British schoolgirls but some of the minor characters never quite come to life, such as the seven-year-old boys who never really sound like young children.
That said, the book is a compelling read and I found myself unable to put it down, desperate to know what would become of the girls, who would survive, who would escape. Some of the escape attempts depicted in the novel are so terrifyingly vivid I could hardly breathe as they unfolded, wondering how anyone could pluck up the courage to hurl themselves out of a moving vehicle or into the icy blackness of the sea. The terrible choices faced by the girls are heartbreakingly expressed; I defy any reader not to be moved by the panic-stricken girls pleading with their Catholic friend to renounce her faith and save herself or the Muslim girl, isolated and alone, facing trial for assisting infidels.
Readers should be advised that this is not a book for the faint-hearted, the emotionally sensitive or the very young (the reading age may be fourteen and up but I am not convinced I would recommend this to a fourteen-year-old). I would also caution any woman who has been through sexual or physical abuse to consider the possible impact of some of the scenes. The violence, including repeated references to sexual violence and murder, is graphic and extremely disturbing to read (at times the explicit descriptions of abuse and throat-cutting are completely overwhelming), but at no point is any of the violence gratuitous. The author shocks the reader into confronting the harrowing truth of what terrorism involves whilst never quite losing hope.
For anyone concerned about the persecution of Christians and other minorities by Islamist terrorist groups, this is a must-read. The author wrote the book with the aim of helping Christians facing persecution and all proceeds from the book go to the excellent British-based charity Aid to the Church in Need.
Someday (Yesterday & Tomorrow, Volume 1)
by Corinna Turner
Zephyr Publishing, 2016
Paperback, 216 pages
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