Truth Be Told

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Pub Date 29 Aug 2023 | Archive Date 19 Sep 2023

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Shortlisted for The Diverse Book Awards 2021

‘Bold and brave, shocking and heartfelt . . . A very special book from a very special author’ Chris Whitaker, bestselling author of Waterstones Thriller of the Month We Begin at the End

‘Abdullah's legal thrillers make John Grisham seem like a maiden aunt’ Sunday Times Crime Club

‘Vividly examines some of the issues that shape (and deform) society . . . A gritty, extremely hard-hitting drama’ Adele Parks, Platinum magazine

‘A masterpiece [and] a triumph . . . When you get to the final chapters, buckle up . . . She writes with such intelligence, research and compassion’ Daily Record

* * * * *


Kamran Hadid feels invincible. He attends Hampton school, an elite all-boys boarding school in London, he comes from a wealthy family, and he has a place at Oxford next year. The world is at his feet. And then a night of revelry leads to a drunken encounter and he must ask himself a horrific question.

With the help of assault counsellor, Zara Kaleel, Kamran reports the incident in the hopes that will be the end of it. But it’s only the beginning…

Powerful, explosive and important, Truth Be Told is a contemporary courtroom drama that vividly captures today’s society. You will not stop thinking about it for a long time to come.

* * * * *

More praise for Truth Be Told:

‘The court scenes are pacy and atmospheric, and there is more than one unexpected twist’ i

Brave, compelling and absolutely riveting’ A A Dhand, bestselling author of Streets of Darkness

‘Tense, harrowing and brilliantly written. A powerful story’ Khurrum Rahman, author of East of Hounslow

‘An excellent and intelligent novel’ The Literary Review

‘A deeply profound and thought-provoking read’ Heat

Shortlisted for The Diverse Book Awards 2021

‘Bold and brave, shocking and heartfelt . . . A very special book from a very special author’ Chris Whitaker, bestselling author of Waterstones Thriller of...

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ISBN 9780008603151
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Average rating from 28 members

Featured Reviews

Kamran Hadid is a student at a very elite school. Still the outsider as an Asian and a Muslim he does his best to fit in. When he is attacked in the dorm he is unsure of where to turn. Zara Kaleel, Kamran becomes involved and thus a twisty turvey story that spans countless topics and genres. Kia Abdullah is a master ! Her novels always, always surprise and her themes always embrace big questions without preaching.

Abdullah is a gifted author and you will care deeply about the characters involved and be shocked by the ending! It will be some time before I stop thinking about Kamran and his family. If you love a courtroom story, an elite school disaster or a fabulous Muslim heroine, Truth Be Told is for you! #KiaAbdullah #TruthBeTold

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How does Kia Abdullah manage to create such compelling plotlines, centered around sensitive issues like racism, sexuality, harassment, verbal and physical abuse, and transform them into perfectly executed novels with deeply layered characters? Her ability to weave these themes into her stories, coupled with stunning court statements in the third act and unexpected plot twists, is truly remarkable. Right from the first act, her books start with a slow burn, drawing you in with an impactful incident that turns the characters' lives upside down. As the pressure mounts, each chapter's pacing intensifies, leaving you hooked. In the second act, you witness how the characters' lives are shaped in the aftermath of the incident, gradually spiraling out of control. The third act introduces legal thriller elements, offering perspectives from both the victim and the presumed perpetrator. After the courtroom drama concludes, the story wraps up with a dark, smart, and heart-wrenching twist that will leave you gasping. Kia Abdullah has mastered this brilliant formula for her psychological thrillers, and each of her books will tear your heart apart. If you haven't yet met Zara Kaleel, I highly recommend reading "Take It Back" to gain a clearer understanding of the events in this book.

In her latest novel, Zara Kaleel sets out to help a male rape victim, Kamran Hadid, who is unlike her previous cases. Kamran is a privileged 17-year-old student at Hampton, an elite all-boys school, hailing from a powerful and wealthy family. His future is carefully planned, with dreams of attending Oxford and pursuing a business master's degree in the US. However, one fateful incident at a campus party, where Kamran gets excessively drunk and forgets to lock his dorm room, changes the course of his life. Seeking help, he finds himself in Zara Kaleel's office, known for assisting assaulted underage young women. Zara aims to save Kamran from the traumatic aftermath of the incident, which raises questions about his secrets and sexual preferences, given his Muslim background. Can a gay Muslim perform the religious rituals while grappling with this trauma? Kamran faces further challenges as his bullying, alpha-male father pushes his boundaries, and his best friends question the credibility of his assault report.

And what about the presumed perpetrator, Finn? Could he have been influenced, clouding his judgment about the consequences of his actions? How can he continue attending the same school as his friends, who suspect him of being a sexual predator targeting vulnerable boys?

I'll stop here to avoid spoiling too much. (I've already revealed quite a bit!) Overall, I devoured this book in one sitting and thoroughly enjoyed it. I'm eagerly anticipating more Zara Kaleel books that will undoubtedly blow my mind.

I would like to express my sincere gratitude to NetGalley and Harper 360/HQ for providing me with a digital review copy of this incredible book in exchange for my honest thoughts.

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Truth Be Told reminds me of tossing a pebble into a pond and observing the expanding concentric circles widening out. One action as a causal factor felt across the entire surface.

Hampton College prides itself for being a long-standing establishment turning out the finest of young men. Its graduates go on to Harvard in America or the prestigeous Oxford University. Wealth opens doors.

Kamran Hadid, 17 years old, and his younger brother, Adam, sixteen, attend Hampton. The Hadid family is a no nonsense unit with plenty of determination and plenty of money to arrive at their objectives. Sofia, their mother, is a stay at home mom and an heiress to a steelwork fortune. Mack, their father, is a successful businessman with extremely high expectations for his sons......And they follow through without question.

And yet, life delivers a set of circumstances beyond the controlling realm of these rigid parents. Prepare yourself for the straight forward storyline involved in Truth Be Told. Kia Abdullah doesn't back away from the hardcore realities confronting us in today's world. She did a remarkable job in the first book in this series, Take It Back, in which we were introduced to Zara Kaleel, an attorney representing a young female rape victim. Abdullah tells the story from all sides of the spectrum to give the reader a clear panoramic view of the situation at hand.

In Truth Be Told, we will find young Kamran Hadid as a victim of male rape that occured in his dorm room at Hampton. Kamran will contact Zara Kaleel who is now working at Artemis House as a crisis counselor. Confused and traumatized, Kamran is unsure of what his next step should be. To report the rape or not? And at the core of his quandry is how to present all this to his Muslim family.

And this is where the author shines, once again, in her presentation of personal tragedy and recovery. Truth Be Told can certainly be read as a standalone. The benefit will come full circle if you choose to read the first book, Take It Back. Zara Kaleel has a very complicated backstory herself. She's encountered some earth-shattering situations within her own family. Her compassion and her dedication to her clients is remarkable. Although the circumstances are heavy-duty here, Abdullah presents a form of action for victims wronged by the system and wronged by society's expectations. Truth Be Told shines a light on all that and more. Bravo, Kia Abdullah.

I received a copy of this book through NetGalley for an honest review. My thanks to HarperCollins Publishing and to the talented Kia Abdullah for the opportunity.

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This is an excellent drama with lots to think about. Zara, a Muslin counselor, a former lawyer works as a rape counselor, as she heals from an attack and an addiction to sleeping pills. She gets involved with a 1 yr old boy, the eldest son in a Muslin family, who has been sexually assaulted by another male student. It discusses lots of issues about consent and what happens to men to create them as they are, as well as what happens to women and what is choice and who is allowed to be vulnerable. A sympathetic heroine, strong , gutsy. This author is not afraid to tackle hard topics. I wish Kamran' motives for reporting the rape were explored further, as it was not what I would have expected him to do, given the circumstances

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I’m a huge Kia Abdullah fan, and I’m ecstatic to see this book finally released in the US, it’s Our Girl back to defend another creep. Definitely good to hold us over until Zara Kaleel #3.

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Kamran Hadid is a senior at an elite boarding school, bound by its strict honor code and by his impossible to please Pakistani father’s dictates. After a raucous evening of drinking, he passes out in his own bed and is awakened by attempted rape. In the morning, unsure of what really happened, he contacts a rape counselor. Zara Kaleel understands the cultural restraints that make him reluctant to accuse his assailant, Finn Andersen, a kind, easy-going boy who doesn’t fit the picture of a rapist. With Zara’s support, he goes to the police. Finn is arrested and a trial is scheduled. What happens next is shocking, sad and totally unexpected.

In a colorless world where everything is black and white, Kia Abdullah sees the grey. In a world of right and wrong, Kia Abdullah sees the maybes. In a world of final decisions, she sees the what ifs. Put all those possibilities and doubts together and you have Truth Be Told, a compelling, mesmerizing mix of mystery and family drama. This complicated novel will leave you with more questions than answers and eager to see what Kia Abdullah writes next. 5 stars.

Thank you to NetGalley, Harper 360 and Kia Abdullah for this ARC.

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A gritty, powerful and intense legal thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat until the very last page.

Kamran Hadid is a 17 year old Pakistani boy from a wealthy London family who attends a prestigious male boarding school. Raised with traditional and strict parents, his future is bright with plans to attend Oxford after graduation. Zara Kaleel is a twenty something women’s assault counselor and former attorney who also hails from a traditional Pakistani family that has left her dealing with traumas of her own. Their paths cross when Kamran seeks her help following a drunken school party resulting in a sexual assault against him .

Author Kia Abdullah is a powerful and insightful voice who writes with compassion, humanity and sensitivity on difficult topics including racism, culture, religion, stereotypes and sexual assault. Her superb character and plot development captures you from the start and always deliver a twist you never saw coming.

Thank you Net Galley and Harper 360, HQ for the opportunity to read this powerful and thought provoking thriller in exchange fir my honest opinion.

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Kia Abdullah is officially now my favorite author. I don’t say that lightly because there are some REALLY great authors out there. Truth Be Told, like its predecessor Take it Back, kept me gripped from the beginning until the end. But there are a lot of books that do that. What sets Kia apart from other writers is that she has this amazing ability to immerse me in a culture/religion I don’t know and weave words together to make me actually empathetic to every single character from one extreme to the other. She tells amazing stories and everything flows perfectly. Take it Back made me burst into tears at the very end. Truth Be Told made me cry several times during the book feeling the anguish right alongside the characters.
I really liked that we got to learn a little more of the aftermath from what happened after Take It Back ended. Kia writes in a way that makes the characters living, breathing people rather than just words on pages.
I’m already desperate for her to write another book about Zara the Brave.
Both Take it Back and Truth Be Told are now at the very top of my permanent list of books to recommend.
I’m also obsessed with her standalone books, Next of Kin and Those People Next Door (UK)/Perfectly Nice Neighbors (US), and am jonesing for her next book to come out!!!

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Yet another great read by Kia Abdulla! This was filled with tons of tension and emotion! Loved the characters and flipped pages long into the night!
Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book!

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4.5 stars.

Wow, Kia Abdullah can WRITE. She is officially an auto-buy author for me. Her ability to tackle difficult topics from all angles, and in such a direct way, is unparalleled.

This is the second book in a series, and I would strongly advise Take It Back prior to reading this one, as there are spoilers from book 1 in this book. In this story, Kamran Hadid, a Muslim student at the elite Hampton School in London has been sexually assaulted by another student, Finn Anderson, after a drunken night. The question of "what is consent?" is at the heart of this story, and Abdullah does not hold back, making this story far more complicated than just "yes" vs "no." This book gives the reader so much to think about, and the end truly shocked me. I can't wait for more from this author!

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Crazy!!! In all the best ways. I thoroughly enjoyed every single thing page and didn’t want it to end. I loved this!

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Zara the Barriater returns in an explosive, intriguing and original thriller. A rape at a highly prestigious joys academy is the scene of the novel. Deftly written with a masterful hand. I raced to finish it. Highly recommend..

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Truth Be Told is a powerful family drama unfurling with a potent velocity to the dramatic end. I read it in one big gulp, not wanting to leave the story and the dynamic characters with their intertwining situations. While this book deals with very difficult topics (male rape, drug addiction and cultural prejudices), it is an insightful and informative view of the struggles faced when dealing with those real-life issues.

Thanks to NetGalley and Harper 360 for the opportunity to read this exceptional ARC.

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Thank you Netgalley and Harper 360 for the copy of Truth Be Told by Kia Abdullah. This is the second Zala Kaleel book and I hope there will be more. The story was compelling and thought provoking. The characters were well drawn and three-dimensional. Kamran was so believable I couldn’t stop reading because I had to find out what was going to happen to him. While the courtroom scenes were memorable, what came before and after made this book unforgettable. You don’t have to read Take it Back first, but I recommend you do for the insight into Zara and her past.

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Kia Abdullah never ever disappoints. She is the queen of twists. Such a fantastic story, characters I loved to read about and fabulous writing. Kept me on the edge of my seat. I'll devour anything she writes!

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Actual rating: 3.5 out of 5

This is the second book in the Zara Kaleel series. Even though I did read the first book in the series, this can be read as a stand-alone.

Kamran Hadid comes from a wealthy family and he and his younger brother attend an elite all-boys boarding school. He has everything planned out in his life. But that all changed after a night of partying.

Truth Be Told is an intense, powerful, emotional book. Great writing and believable characters. You can feel all the emotions that Kamran is struggling with. Unfortunately, I thought the pace of the story was a little slow and it dragged on. The ending made up for it.

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No sophomore slump here! I was hesitant to read this one after my issues with the first book in the series. (It is hard to read a series when you dislike the central character.) Zara has matured a bit and while still not perfect, she is much more relatable. The story of Kamran, a young elite Muslim boy, his rape, and the events following is a tough read. I liked that the people around Zara gave other thoughts to consider in the situation and emphasizing that things aren't always clear-cut. I hated Kamran's father and his toxic masculinity. He was so despicable that I found myself physically cringing whenever he entered the scene. Because of the subject matter, you know going in that there will be sadness and heart break, but I still wasn't prepared for the subsequent events. I finished the book with a heavy heart. This is a good read but not one for a vacation.

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Harrowing. Heartbreaking. Infuriating.

Just a few words to sum up this reading experience.

An elite boys school. A night of drinking and revelry that leads to an accusation of rape.

Two male students - one claims they never gave consent, the other claims the other never said no.

Does NOT saying no mean the same thing as saying yes?

Victim shaming and toxic masculinity are explored in depth. Kia Abdullah does not shy away from making her readers think which is why her books are always so compelling. My mind spun this way and that way to try to figure what actually transpired between the boys. Of course, Abdullah, being the exceptional storyteller she is, is not just satisfied with a simple guilty or not guilty verdict. Oh no. When the truth comes out it's like a punch to the gut. I was completely stunned by the last chapter of this book.

Impeccably written, shocking, and simmering with social commentary this book was a momentous success. 5 stars!

Thank you to NetGalley and Harper 360 for my complimentary copy.

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I had no idea this was a sequel to a previous book and this wonderful author was new for me. I selected it because I’m obsessed with legal drama. I was unprepared for the sensitive subject of the plot and it may contain triggers for some readers. None of the usual clichés are applicable when the subject is so emotionally wrenching. It’s not appropriate to say it was enjoyable. I didn’t race through the pages, had to stop and start when it was tough going. The characters portray familiar traits, beliefs and reactions that hauntingly resembled co-workers, friends and family I’ve interacted with. The parents, students, faculty, victims and attorneys are well constructed, some likable, others less so, all interesting. What a cuttingly raw, emotionally devastating, portrayal of a skewed society. This book's theme addresses such an important issue – when does no mean no? The setting in London gave a glimpse into their procedures and I found it interesting how the legal system there differs from here in the US. The outcome of the story didn’t surprise me, which didn’t lessen my appreciation for the magnificent writing. With unwavering conviction and one hundred percent certainty I know exactly what my choices would be under the circumstances in this case. You’ll need to read for yourself and decide where you stand.
A digital advance reader copy of “Truth Be Told” by Kia Abdullah, HarperCollins Publishers, was provided by NetGalley. These are all my own honest personal thoughts and opinions given voluntarily without compensation.

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Kia Abdullah is the master of heart-wrenching legal dramas with shocking twists, and Truth Be Told does not disappoint. Kamran is a Pakistani student who has a bright future ahead of him. After a night of partying, he wakes up to find his classmate in his bed and what follows is unquestionably a sexual assault. But where do we draw the line with consent or lack thereof? And is this viewed differently because both the accused and the accuser are male? Zara Kaleel takes on Kamran's case and is determined to help him cope with the aftermath of the attack as well as the tough love that his father has to offer.

This is a brutally honest and propulsive look at race, class and sexuality. The ending will leave you absolutely stunned and the story will stay with you long after the last page.

Thank you to NetGalley for the ARC of Truth Be Told in exchange for an unbiased review.

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Thank you NetGalley for this advanced reader copy, for my free and voluntary review. This book is utterly amazing. I was engulfed with emotion throughout the entire story because it was so well written, I felt like a part of it all. So well written and an amazing story with a surprise twist at the end. Highly recommend and bravo to this author!

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Kamran Hadid & his brother Adam attend Hampton school, an elite all-boys boarding school in London. They come from a wealthy family, and Kamran has a place at Oxford next year. They live a life of privilege, and it seems as if nothing can touch them. But after a night of revelry leads to a drunken encounter, everything in Kamran's life is being questioned. With the help of assault counsellor, Zara Kaleel, Kamran reports the incident in the hopes that will be the end of it. But it’s only the beginning…

I love this author's books. I have to say this one wasn't my favorite, but it was still really good. It started out with a slow burn, and at times I felt it was a bit slow and tedious with the court proceedings, but as her books always do, there was a nice twist at the end. This would make a good book club selection, thanks to the controversial subject matter. This hot topic book is perfect for fans of Jodi Picoult

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KIA ABDULLAH writes very compelling and complex stories. They often involve very delicate subjects. These subjects sometimes involve racism and abuse. The stories she writes always have well developed plot lines and characters she writes are always complex. There's never a dry spot in a book of hers.

In TRUTH BE TOLD it deals with the very sensitive subject of rape with a young male victim. It also addresses I'll say the mindset of the perpetrator and the situation he finds himself in.

I found this like all her books to be very emotionally charged as well as suspenseful. KIA ABDULLAH is one of those authors that I've found that does not disappoint.

Thank you to NETGALLEY and HARPER 360/HQ for this ARC!

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Kia Abdullah is one of those authors that I really need to be in a certain mood to read to get the full impact. And that is by no means a bad thing, they are just not light, fun reads. Her stories are heavy, emotional, suspenseful and always timely. The story begins with Kamran, a Pakistani boy from a very strict wealthy London family with traditional values. Kamran attends an all-male boarding school and after a night of partying he is raped by a schoolmate. He turns to crisis counselor Zara Kaleel from Take It Back (another excellent book by this author) for guidance. Does he press charges? What will he tell his family who have such high hopes for him? He is of Pakistani/Asian descent and a Muslim so there is prejudice. So many hot-button issues and a gut-wrenching storyline kept me whipping through the pages. As always, this author never lets me down. I can't wait to read whatever is next!

Thank you to #NetGalley, Kia Abdullah and Harper 360, HQ for this ARC.

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I appreciate that the author tackles head on complicated issues within complicated issues. In the second installment of the Zara Kaleel series, a high school student is raped by another student after both had been drinking at a party. Issues of masculinity, sexual identity, cultural expectations, secrets & lies permeate this entire book until we reach a seriously dramatic ending that I did not see coming!!

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