I’m sweating. I feel like I’m going to have a heart attack… I’m gonna to pass out. I’m gonna throw up, piss, and shi#$ all at the same time… For anyone who has ever had a panic attack, as I have, these symptoms snowball and quickly cripple you. Moss Jefferies, the main character of Mark Oshiro’s young adult novel Anger is a Gift, has been struck with this affliction since his father’s death six years ago at the hands of an Oakland police officer. Moss is now in high school and is again witnessing injustice in the form of locker searches, which brings an incident of police brutality. This evolves into the school arming their entrance with metal detectors. What follows is both an internal struggle between Moss’s fear and his courage, and also external lessons of power, controlling the narrative, and grassroots activism.
As a high school teacher who hears it seven hours a day, Oshiro’s writing is true to the language and demeanor of teenagers. In particular, Moss is an outstandingly original character. He is witty, sensitive, and stays vulnerably true to himself throughout the book. I found Oshiro’s writing to be particularly strong in the depiction of Moss’s relationship with his mother. Their bond is one of trust, openness, and unconditional love. It was inspiring throughout.
This searing novel can bring truth to everyone who reads it: I found empathy in Moss’s experience with his anxiety. I found a sense of renewal in the strength of the several teachers who stood with the students during tragedies in the book. What truth could a young person see in this book? A parent of a teenager? A member of law enforcement? Anger is a Gift is a novel that represents an important part of the social narrative that needs to be heard.
5 out of 5 stars
Comes out on May 22nd, 2018.
Thank you to NetGalley, Tor Teen, Macmillan-Tor/Forge, and Mr. Oshiro for an advanced copy to review.