“It’s like people want me to be this version of a person that isn’t me. Like, always ready to fight and march and rally, and I don’t even get to be myself.”
Title: Anger is a Gift
Author: Mark Oshiro
Publisher: Tor Teen
Genre: Contemporary / Young Adult / LGBTQIAP+
Page number: 463
Synopsis (from Goodreads)
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.
🏳️🌈 – Pride Month Read #4
Trigger warning: racism, police brutality, violence, murder.
You know how schools make it obligatory to read books like Pride and Prejudice and Julius Caesar?
Well, if this book isn’t on every school’s reading list soon enough, I think I might flip a table.
Anger is a Gift is the story of Morris Jeffries Jr., often called “Moss”: a black, gay kid who wants to live a normal life. His anxiety disorder worries him enough (and I honestly loved that rep, especially because I could relate to it so much) so he definitely doesn’t want to go looking for trouble. Unsurprisingly, though, that’s precisely what he gets: trouble on top of more trouble on top of more trouble.
Seriously, the world is a messed-up place.
This novel has the widest range of diverse characters I’ve ever seen! Besides Moss, we have a whole list of characters that are part of a minority community:
✨ Esperanza – lesbian
✨ Javier Perez – Guatemalan; gay
✨ Njemile – Nigerian; lesbian
✨ Shawna – bisexual
✨ Reginald “Reg” Phillips – disabled
✨ Kaisha – asexual
✨ Rawiya – Muslima
✨ Bits – non-binary
I was absolutely thrilled. While there are a lot of characters to catch up with, each of them has something unique about them that make them memorable to the readers. Not a lot of authors can pull that off, that’s for certain.
The events that go down in this book are downright terrifying, there’s no other way to put it. Moss and his friends are harshly discriminated against. Their very lives are put in danger. Some would say that this book borders on dystopian, but really, I wouldn’t put these atrocities past corrupt law enforcers. We live in a world where children of darker skin colour are labelled as “thugs”, where women who choose to wear the hijab are told to take it off, where disabled people’s needs are hardly ever catered too. This is practically an everyday reality, so I would say that nothing that happens in this book is far-fetched at all.
I’m really happy this book exists because it puts you on the spot. Expect no sugar-coating and no beating around the bush here. You will see racism, queerphobia, sexism, Islamophobia—the whole ugly deal. And you know what? I’m glad this book is long because it takes the time to address these issues.
This book talks about how crucial it is for us to make a stand, to take action; and more importantly, for privileged people to recognise the advantages they have and use it to help others. It’s a sad truth, but their voices will be heard more than others. That’s just how sick the world is.
Moss’s school is a messed-up place. It feels like the whole world is against them. It can’t even bother to provide proper equipment and new textbooks. Kids have to resort to sharing tattered books, or illegally downloading them on their devices. The situation is so bad that even the teachers are complaining. And the sad truth is that many schools are like that. Moss and his friends have to go through so much just to earn a basic education.
“So, the big question is,” said Moss, “do we go to a prison or a school?”
At one point, their school announces “random” locker searches. If you’re like me, then you rolled your eyes at that. We all know how “random” this is going to get. In a nutshell, if you’re not white—tough luck, buddy. You’re suddenly – *gasp* — a suspect. Heck, a student gets assaulted over meds. The next day, metal detectors are installed, and another student gets injured. The next thing you know, the police are involved, and the whole thing is just one big mess that endangers student lives. Some of them actually die. How terrifying is it, going to school to study but returning with blood all over you? With bruises and cuts because the law that’s supposed to protect you is actually what’s hurting you?
This book is a masterpiece among masterpieces. It portrays the struggles of marginalised people so well. Although the characters will never be the same after the events in this book, they come out stronger than ever and it’s so heart-warming to see them take a stand for themselves and their loved ones. Friend for friend, mother for son, partner for partner. 2018 is looking so good with books like these.
Have you read Anger is a Gift? Would you like to? Feel free to let me know what you think!