I Am Change

Suzy Zail

I Am Change
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I Am Change

Suzy Zail

They told her that her body belonged to men and her mind didn’t matter. They were wrong.

What if I don’t want to marry? Lillian held her breath. She had never said the words out loud. Not want to marry? Her aunt frowned. What else would you do?

Set in a Ugandan village, Lilian has learned to shrink herself to fit other people’s ideas of what a girl is. In her village a girl is not meant to be smarter than her brother. A girl is not meant to go to school or enjoy her body or decide who to marry. Especially if she is poor.

Inspired by and written in consultation with young Ugandan women, I Am Change is the tragic but empowering story of how a young girl finds her voice and the strength to fight for change.

Review

Suzy Zail’s latest novel, I Am Change, is a fictional work based on research and personal interviews with young Ugandan women from rural communities living in extreme poverty. For these young women, poverty is but one of many challenges they face. As Zail demonstrates in her book, they have also had to contend with barriers to education and personal autonomy that are unfortunately experienced by many young women around the world.

But I Am Change is a story of hope and fighting back. Lillian, the protagonist of this novel, represents a voice of change. Determined to break the cycle of disadvantage in which she finds herself, Lillian fights for her education and is ambitious; she wants to become a teacher. The challenges she faces to realise this ambition are almost unfathomable for a privileged reader growing up in Australia to imagine. And it is for this reason that I Am Change is essential reading. The reader, too, can make a difference by donating to Help Girls Learn, a charity set up by Zail to give girls like Lillian the benefit of an education.


Natalie Platten is the assistant manager and children’s book buyer at Readings Doncaster.

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