Happy New Year Everyone! Wishing everyone a wonderful – and vastly improved – year ahead.
Welcome to our first Book Club episode for 2021. I have a wonderful book to kick off the year that I know will inspire you – something we all need. Introducing I Am Change – the story of Ugandan girl Lillian’s struggle to stay in school by Melbourne author Suzy Zail.
I read this book in a day. It is a rollercoaster ride. It is hilarious, heartbreaking and also frustrating. You will walk in the shoes of Lillian in Uganda which will give you an understanding of the challenges and hardships that girls face today. From dealing with female genital mutilation, family violence, the prohibitive cost of female hygiene products and not being seen as worthy of an education, this book gives the reader a very raw account of the trials of being a young girl in Uganda.
About Suzy Zail
Suzy started life as a lawyer. But when her beloved dad, an Auschwitz survivor, became sick with a terminal illness, she decided to ‘hang up her legal boots’ and pursue her passion of writing. After her father passed away, she wrote her father’s story, The Tattooed Flower which outlines her father’s life as a child survivor of the Holocaust.
Her first novel for young adults, The Wrong Boy, was short-listed for the Children’s Book Council of Australia (CBCA) Book of the Year Awards, the Adelaide Festival Awards for Literature, the WAYRBA, USBBY and YABBA awards. Her second novel with Black Dog Books, Alexander Altmann A10567, was a Notable Book at the CBCA Awards.
I Am Change is Suzy’s latest novel which is suitable for both Young Adults and (fully grown) adults. Suzy’s books have been published in Germany, the UK, U.S. Sweden, Italy, Romania and the Netherlands. She lives in Melbourne and has three children.
Why I Loved It
Gender inequality is a big issue for women and translates into hardship and suffering for so many girls and women worldwide. This book reminded me of that and made me think about what I can do, even on a small suburban level, to make a change.
The story of Lilian is inspired by the multiple stories told to Suzy by young Ugandan girls. When Suzy visited Uganda to research her book, she was blown away by the number of girls who wanted to speak with her. Girls who realised that storytelling is a powerful tool to help make a change.
The story of Lilian will remind us of the need to look outside our patch and that giving even the smallest leg up to people in need can completely change their trajectory.
Many girls worldwide have to fight hard everyday to be heard. I Am Change is a reminder that there is still work to be done.
When Suzy arrived home from her trip to Uganda, she set up a charity called Help Girls Learn, Uganda to get girls into schools and keep them there. All money donated will go to the five aid organisations who introduced her to the girls who inspired ‘I am Change’. Organisations like Girl Child Network, Uganda who run empowerment clubs for girls; AAFCAD, who improve the lives of the people in Kampala’s poorest slum; Girls Not Brides a global partnership committed to ending child marriage; Concern for the Girl Child who empower vulnerable girls through sponsored education and The Uganda Youth Alliance for Family Planning and Adolescent Health who educate young people about the dangers of early sexual activity. You can find details of Help Girls Learn, Uganda here.
During the podcast, Suzy also shared her current drive to collect pre-loved books to send to schools in Uganda. If you’d like to know more, visit Suzy’s website here.
You can find this episode via your favourite podcast app or via the link below.