Review by Maraia
I’ve read quite a few books in the last year about police violence, including The Hate U Give. Anger Is a Gift book blows them all out of the water. It directly address police brutality and systematic oppression without sugarcoating a thing, and it will leave you feeling both angry and helpless. It also will encourage you to keeping fighting and remind readers of why it’s important to listen to the people whose voices matter most in this fight.
Anger Is a Gift starts off as a wonderfully diverse contemporary novel with a super sweet romance brewing. Moss, the man character, is black, gay, and suffers from panic attacks. He meets a cute guy who clearly likes him, and watching Moss torture himself with thoughts like “does he really like me or “is this all just a trick?” or struggling with what to say while feeling completely awkward was incredibly relatable. I would have enjoyed the book well enough if had continued along those lines.
But then it gets dark. Very dark. (I didn’t read the blurb before starting, so I didn’t have any idea what was coming.) The second half of the book feels like a dystopian novel, which makes it that much scarier. It was hard to read at times, and I wanted to shout “this can’t possibly be true,” but that’s the point. This IS happening, and we can’t ignore something just because it’s uncomfortable. There are too many people who don’t have the luxury of being able to pretend that police brutality is only something that happens to others. To people who “deserve” it. No one deserves to be gunned down for going to the store or to school.
In between all the dark moments, there’s also an incredible amount of love in Anger Is a Gift. Moss has a solid, supportive friend group, supportive family friends, and a supportive mother. The bond between the two of them is so powerful, and I wish we saw more positive parent-child relationships like this. I’m tired of the idea being perpetuated that teens aren’t supposed to like their parents, that it’s somehow “uncool.”
Another plus is the diversity. Moss’s friends and family are gay, lesbian, asexual, nonbinary, trans, disabled, Muslim, immigrants, black, and/or lantinx, and they aren’t just filler characters. They’re important parts of Moss’s life and have real personalities.
I urge every single one of you to read this important book and to not look away from the violence that happens every single day in the US. The book may be a work of fiction, but the story is real.
Have you read this book, or others like it?
Do you seek out books with serious, real-world topics,
or do you prefer to avoid them?