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ANGER IS A GIFT

A masterful debut rich with intersectional nuance and grass-roots clarity, Anger is a Gift is hella precious, hella dope.

Awards & Accolades

Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • Kirkus Reviews'
    Best Books Of 2018


  • Schneider Family Book Award Winner

Rooted in the working-class neighborhoods of Oakland, California, this is a tale of youth of color, diverse in sexuality and gender, organizing to challenge state-sanctioned violence.

Black teenager Moss Jeffries is still grieving from the loss six years earlier of his father by the trigger finger of a police officer. Moss struggles with self-doubt and anxiety-induced panic attacks, finding comfort in his emerging relationship with Javier, a Latinx boy who’s just as tender as he is bold. As the school year begins, the school resource officer assaults Moss’ friend Shawna, claiming to suspect drugs—but the young people know that it’s really about her decision to fully embrace her black trans identity. When the administration installs metal detectors, resulting in a tragic injury for their friend in a wheelchair, Moss and his circle organize to dismantle the system of violence at their school, beginning with a wildcat student walkout. They demonstrate that there will continue to be resistance wherein aggrieved communities gather in solidarity to build meaningful lives of collective joy, heartful struggle, and deep love. Moss’ mother, Wanda, offers, “Anger is a gift. Remember that….You gotta grasp on to it, hold it tight and use it as ammunition. You use that anger to get things done instead of just stewing in it.”

A masterful debut rich with intersectional nuance and grass-roots clarity, Anger is a Gift is hella precious, hella dope. (Fiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: May 22, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-250-16702-6

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Tor Teen

Review Posted Online: March 19, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2018

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IF ONLY I HAD TOLD HER

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Pub Date: Feb. 6, 2024

ISBN: 9781728276229

Page Count: 416

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Jan. 5, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 2024

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IF HE HAD BEEN WITH ME

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.

The finely drawn characters capture readers’ attention in this debut.

Autumn and Phineas, nicknamed Finny, were born a week apart; their mothers are still best friends. Growing up, Autumn and Finny were like peas in a pod despite their differences: Autumn is “quirky and odd,” while Finny is “sweet and shy and everyone like[s] him.” But in eighth grade, Autumn and Finny stop being friends due to an unexpected kiss. They drift apart and find new friends, but their friendship keeps asserting itself at parties, shared holiday gatherings and random encounters. In the summer after graduation, Autumn and Finny reconnect and are finally ready to be more than friends. But on August 8, everything changes, and Autumn has to rely on all her strength to move on. Autumn’s coming-of-age is sensitively chronicled, with a wide range of experiences and events shaping her character. Even secondary characters are well-rounded, with their own histories and motivations.

There’s not much plot here, but readers will relish the opportunity to climb inside Autumn’s head.   (Fiction. 14 & up)

Pub Date: April 1, 2013

ISBN: 978-1-4022-7782-5

Page Count: 336

Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire

Review Posted Online: Feb. 12, 2013

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2013

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