Literandra short story review: ‘A Very Young Judge’ by Leila Aboulela

‘Growing up, most of us probably had that one friend, who we were very fond of but who somehow, wittingly or not, made us feel at once inadequate about ourselves and grateful to be around them. That kind of friendship is what Leila Aboulela’s short story ‘A Very Young Judge’ is about.

The story explores the friendship between the first person narrator and her fashionable, fascinating, and ferocious friend Leena. It examines the role and nature of friendships between women and girls. ‘A Very Young Judge’ shows that women and girls can be each other’s most fierce judges and / or supporters.

Alongside this, the story also shines a light on the importance of self-determination, discernment, and critical examination of one’s friends and circle. It’s easy to get absorbed by a group of friends and forget to remain critical of one’s own and their morals alike. ‘A Very Young Judge’ also shows how quickly the most popular and revered girl in school (or anywhere else, for that matter) can morph into a deeply problematic, judgmental, and exclusionary person. It alludes to the fact that ‘hero-worship’ and the idolisation of any human being is a dangerous and slippery slope, because we are all fallible and susceptible to change.

Thank you to Literandra for reviewing Leila Aboulela’s short story from New Daughters of Africa. Make sure to follow Literandra on Instagram as they work their way through the anthology.

Read the full review HERE.