YA ARC Review: ANGER IS A GIFT by Mark Oshiro

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Title: ANGER IS A GIFT

Author: Mark Oshiro

Rating: ⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ⭐

Pub Date: 05.22.18

TW: police shooting and brutality, death, racism

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.

My review:

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the eARC in exchange of an honest review.

A tense and heartbreaking story of friendship, family and love and all of them coming together for a fight to bring change. It’s sad and empowering at the same time. My heart is shattered in so many pieces and I have so much to say about this book.

The book follows Moss and his classmates, their outburst against how the school and their community treat them. When the school starts taking more and more horrifying security measures and villainizing the students for things they didn’t do, they stand up against it. But Moss has lost enough before, he doesn’t know how to lead all of it, and he has to face to face more losses.

The book reminds me so much of March for Our Lives, but with a PoC and queer kids. This book alone has more queer characters than all other books I’ve read this year combined (I should start reading more books with queer cast). It was so inspiring to see all of these diverse kids rising up against the messed up racist system. I’m so ready to wield my sword and fight the world now.

I loved the plot. It was filled with tension, and lots of [Spoiler] please don’t die, please don’t die, oh damn you’re dead. I’m still a teary mess. [Spoiler ends] The story  progressed so smoothly that it gave me time to understand every bit of detail and take it in before moving on. It was a rather slow read but I loved the fact that I could understand everything as I went and didn’t have to come back like ‘wait what did I miss’.

The family dynamics, the friendships and the easy relationship between the characters was so heartwarming and something you want to hold on to. Especially the mother-son relation, the best friends falling apart with their difference in financial conditions, and the cute romance were all so brilliantly shown.

As much as Moss’s story was heartfelt and vividly described, something felt off. At first I thought it was that third POV isn’t my favorite but that wasn’t necessarily what was keeping Moss so far away from reach. It felt like I could see Moss but not get into his shoes. He was there but in a distance.

No spoilers, but here’s the thing. I’M SAD. I’M HEARTBROKEN. I know stories like this, in both reality and fiction, doesn’t end happy. But I swear I’d have sacrificed all hea books to the HEA Gods just for this one to have a happy ending. It ties up all loose ends perfectly, but it rips your heart out before that.

Overall, it’s a story of strength and inspiration, of fighting injustices and standing strong.

anger is a gift

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