Attending Ayaan Mohamud’s book launch for “You Think You Know Me” was truly inspiring. Waterstones bookstore in Turnham Green, London hosted this lovely event. Guests were welcomed with a cupcake display with candied book copies as toppers, finger snacks, and soft beverages. We had some time to socialise, heard moving speeches and were able to have our books signed. There were lots of smiles and happy tears. My favourite aspect of the event was witnessing Ayaan’s genuine appreciation for her loved ones. You could also see how proud they were of her.
You Think You Know Me is Ayaan’s debut novel. The purpose of this book was to shine a light on the truth of Islam beyond the mainstream media headlines. She wants to empower the voices who feel repressed by society and help young children realize that their differences should be celebrated, rather than a reason to hate. Ayaan approaches this feat by painting a lovely picture of Hanan and her friends in the schoolyard. The novel continues to follow Hanan Ali and her journey combating Islamophobia whilst fleeing Somalia’s civil war. It is truly riveting.
Her publisher, from Usborne Publishing, gave a very moving speech during the reception. She read the prototype, “I physically could not put it down.” Usborne is a top children’s book publishing company and receives loads of books to review and decide whether or not to publish. Lindquist said that Usborne decided to publish You Think You Know Me because of Ayaan’s outstanding writing, as well as the compelling message the book represents. Fritha said when they asked themselves what messages they want future generations to be reading, Ayaan’s novel became a no-brainer.
Ayaan started the writing process in July 2020. She claims the initial draft was hardly recognisable from the final. Although the path was not linear, the aspect of writing which gave Ayaan the most joy was watching Hanan’s character blossom into someone that people could relate to and somebody who Ayaan was incredibly proud of. In tackling an issue like Islamophobia, Ayaan reports “there were a lot of roadblocks …but what made it easier was knowing that I was writing a girl named Hanan to the page.” Ayaan wanted to create a character who didn’t fit the stereotype of the current media. She wanted to extend media representation to allow more people to experience a relatable figure to help young readers truly comprehend the power of their voices.
Ayaan’s passion for writing is clear and genuine. I am thrilled to see where it takes her. I’d rate You Think You Know Me and the book launch event five stars all around.