If I Tell You the Truth

HarperAudio. 2021. 957p. $39.99. ISBN 9781799947585.
Gr 7 Up–Introduced in Kaur’s debut, When You Ask Me Where I’m Going, mother Kiran and daughter Sahaara return in this timely hybrid prose/verse novel that deftly addresses the perils of being undocumented and surviving sexual assault. Kiran enters Canada from India on a student visa, already pregnant with Sahaara after being raped by her would-be brother-in-law. Kiran chooses motherhood after severing ties with a family more concerned with saving face, then lives in relentless fear of discovery and deportation. Yet Kiran manages to raise Sahaara, who becomes a strong young woman who will someday inspire her mother to tell her truth. Punjabi Canadian Kaur returns to voice her sophomore title, enhancing her text with affecting accents, rhythms, pauses, and emotions exactly as she intended. Kaur’s Kiran is reserved yet determined, Sahaara confident and outspoken. Alternating perspectives, Kaur’s sensitive narration further enhances the mother/daughter bond.
VERDICT A resonating #OwnVoices addition to #MeToo titles.

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