I had originally planned on reading Anger is a Gift in for days, ambitious, but that’s a schedule for you. However, I devoured it in one day. Which is saying a lot since it’s almost 400 pages! Anger is a Gift moved me the way The Hate U Give moved me last year. And I hope this becomes as popular!
Six years ago, Moss Jefferies’ father was murdered by an Oakland police officer. Along with losing a parent, the media’s vilification of his father and lack of accountability has left Moss with near crippling panic attacks.
Now, in his sophomore year of high school, Moss and his fellow classmates find themselves increasingly treated like criminals by their own school. New rules. Random locker searches. Constant intimidation and Oakland Police Department stationed in their halls. Despite their youth, the students decide to organize and push back against the administration.
When tensions hit a fever pitch and tragedy strikes, Moss must face a difficult choice: give in to fear and hate or realize that anger can actually be a gift.
I just want to preface this review by saying, this book is heavy and it’s intense. Anger is a Gift grapples with incredibly timely and difficult issues – such as police brutality, racism, and a variety of other -isms. At times it makes your blood boil, your heart break, and your tears run. In the span of the first twenty pages, Oshiro hooked me and didn’t let go until I was finished with the book. Actually, until even now days after finishing. Anger is a Gift sticks with you long after you put this book down.
One of the things I loved, before we get into the themes that twisted my heart with its relateability, were the characters. Each one of them felt unique and three dimensional. Within the first twenty pages there was a genuine warmth, a personality that sprung forth from the pages. It was like being immersed into their circle of friendships – their inside jokes, and their tender exchanges. (I wish I was as socially conscious when I was in high school as these teens!)
This book was packed with diversity. To name them – and I am undoubtably missing some – there was adoption rep, poc, woc, homosexuality, latinx, asexuality, biromanticism, transgender, nonbinary, panic attack representation, and a girl wearing a hijab. And I’m sure I missed some! It made my heart so full to see these characters populate this space, this world together, to form a community of teens. Each new character made my heart swell. I cannot harp on how good it was to see all this representation. So many facets of my identity were on these pages.
(I particularly loved seeing the side character who was ace and biromantic. Hello, I need more books like this in my life!)
Onto the heavy themes. While this book was intense I greatly enjoyed it. Oshiro doesn’t pull any punches and doesn’t obscure the truth from us. We see it all. The good, the bad, and the truly awful. There are no illusions and no lies we can walk away with. And this is frankly, why I love it so dearly. The anger, the injustice, the fear is simmering under the surface and this book lets it come to a boil. We watch it all from the little bubbles that struggle to the surface, to the tension in the water when it is on the cusp of boiling, to the rolling round waves. There were conversations about what it’s like to be adopted by white parents, about the privilege of wealth, and about aphobic and biphobic encounters. We were surrounded by tragedy, by heartbreak, and by violence.
Anger is a Gift is pure feels. It is a must read. This book is so emotional. It is gripping and a tour de force of action and emotional heart wrench. Please check out Anger is a Gift on Goodreads.