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I really enjoyed this book. It was plentiful on LGBT representation and was full of strong women. On top of that it really opened my eyes on police brutality in the US. Five Stars.
What do you do when enough is enough? And how do you keep getting up when it might be safer to stay down? These questions flow through the story of Moss, a gay black teenager living in Oakland, California. When the escalating wrongs of an overly aggressive police department begin to affect not only the mental, but physical wellbeing of Moss and his classmates, what can he and their community do? Alongside that, how does he tackle his sometimes-crippling anxiety and make sure to keep the cute boy he met on the BART interested even when his brain fights against him?
This is a hard, heavy book, but it moves quickly. So quickly that the pace makes it even more devastating. It's not a perfect read, but definitely one worth picking up. And then following up with days and days of Happy Reads, once you've gotten over your book hangover.
That was a gut punch everyone needs. At minimum as a booster shot from reading The Hate U Give. This book puts you in Moss' underfunded school that still has money to pilot horrifying sounding projects with the police, who do not have a hot track record with Moss' family let alone his community. The diversity of voices, in ethnicity, abilities, sexuality and gender, is rich but just as part of the tapestry of the story and no special attention is called since this is all just life to them. And it is life to us too, maybe not you personally but it's there.
Anger Is A Gift tries to hold a mirror up the world to show you its ugliness. Racism, classism, hatefulness and good intentions gone awry are the cornerstones supporting the message that police brutality is real and awful. But the mirror is distorted and the message diluted in frequently sloppy writing, an unlikeable protagonist and the characters who exist solely to prop him up or draw his fire. The diversity of its cast is squandered, and while it might try to make you angry at an unjust world, one of the most infuriating things is how evident the potential was for this to be an all-around good book.
It's gotten a lot of praise for its diverse cast of characters, and it is indeed refreshing to see so much representation across gender, sexuality and racial lines. But they mostly feel like they’re checking boxes. They’re window dressing for Moss, there to add color and hold his hand and reassure him that he’s good and pure and righteous. The problem is that Moss is horrible. He’s a horrible son, a horrible friend, and he embodies the Angry Black Man trope that you would think a book praised for its diversity would either avoid or subvert.
There’s a misogyny that permeates the pages as well. It’s always the women in Moss’s life who have to “learn their lesson” and “just listen and believe” whatever Moss has to say instead of “making everything about themselves.” And it’s all treated as normal and right.
I would be 100 percent down for this book if while fighting for the people he’s lost Moss realizes how awful he is to the people he still has, but Moss gets no character growth. The closest thing that counts is the realization that some things are worth fighting for, but even that is only after loss touches him again.
There are very few positive things to say about this book. Sometimes the writing isn’t bad, and it tries to tell an important message about police brutality and racism and marginalized communities that have no hope, but it gets lost in mostly clunky prose, paper villains and allies who become antagonists to the point where the only clear message is “Police and white people bad, everyone else good.”
And, look, I didn’t come into this book expecting or wanting white saviors. They’re not needed. We NEED books like what Anger Is A Gift could have been. Instead, we got this. It certainly makes me angry, but if it’s a gift, it’s one I’m more than ready to return.