Tags: California, Oakland, Realistic Fiction, Tor Teen, YA
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?
Ahhh well you already know I fully and absolutely agree! (Tor just brings out all the best books I’m beginning to realise.) And sooo much agreement with how dystopian the second half seemed. Oh god, I just can’t fathom American schools, I honestly can’t. Going to school should not be something that has you leaving traumatised, brutalised, or with serious PTSD. Anyway I hope this gets the love that THUG and Dear Martin have too, because it’s so important and Moss was amazing. ?❤️
Haha, and yet you still rated it 4 stars. 😛
I can’t fathom British schools! But actually, I also can’t fathom going to school in the US these days. I’m so glad I’m done.
Aahh okay, I’m definitely reading this!
I love your review and the latter half of the book being too dark and dystopian had definitely made me very curious. This is really why I prefer not reading synopsis and just letting the story take me where it does.
Eep, thank you! ? I was nervous posting a review, haha. You’ll have to let me know what you think when you read it.
I love your reviews! I wish you wrote them more often XD
I think you and Cait might be the only ones. xD It’s hard to motivate myself to write them when almost no one reads the, haha.
Side note, but how interesting that this page knows who I am now – I didn’t have to type in my name and email address, haha.
I don’t read *that* many contemporary novels but lots of them seem to cover important issues these days, and ones like this and THUG are on my TBR. I haven’t heard much about this one at all, so I hope it gets some more attention!
It’s scary to think about how real-life situations in some places can be like a horrifying dystopia…
Haha, makes it easier, doesn’t it!
I’m honestly not even sure how I heard of this one, as I haven’t heard a single person talk about it (besides Cait).
The things that happened in the beginning were relatable, since my school was on the rough side. I wonder how much more is true 12 years later.
I also read „The Hate U Give“ and this book really left me with diverse feelings – I really loved it so this book sounds awesome! I get the feeling that some authors write books about topics that are wildely discussed in the community, although they actually don’t have that kind of story to tell. This book definitely doesn’t seem to be one of it.
I’m looking forward to reading this. Nice review!
I agree, but you’re right, in this case the author definitely had a story to tell. I hope you read it! Let me know if you do. ?
I almost bought this one a couple of weeks ago. I am so intrigued by this intense second half you speak of. Must make time for this one soon. Great review!
I can’t wait to hear what you think of it! Thanks, Alicia. ?
I really need to read this, your review made me even more excited about it and there’s a lot I didn’t know was in there!! Thank you!
I really hope you like it! I can’t wait to discuss it with you.