All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir, 384 pages, Can be read in a few nights depending on your speed, Young Adult
“We plan. We dream. We hope.”~Misbah, p. 213
If you aren’t feeling rage about 2/3 of the way through this book, you’re not human. That said, this was such a good book that I don’t know if my words will do it justice. All My Rage is a beautifully written, powerful story of how the trauma of loss impacts people.
Everyone in this story has experienced loss. Misbah and Toufiq lost Toufiq’s parents in a tragic accident. Salahudin lost his mother to illness and his father to alcohol. Noor lost her parents in an earthquake. As the story progresses, we see how all of these losses drive their individual lives but also drives how their lives connect. As heartbreaking as story is, it is also full of hope. Hope for what could be. Hope for what will be.
The book is told across three perspectives: Misbah, Salahudin, and Noor. While the majority of the story focuses on Salahudin and Noor, the chapters from Misbah’s perspective add history and context to the story as it unfolds in the present. We follow Salahudin and Noor in the months after Misbah dies. Both of them struggle deeply with the challenges of what comes next—Salahudin in trying to hold on to his mother’s beloved motel and Noor trying to escape an unloving guardian—it is clear that Misbah was the glue that held them together. Without that anchor, one is driven to desperate measures while other falls into hopelessness.
Tahir does an amazing job highlighting how trauma and tragedy can spiral out of control if the right supports aren’t in place, or if people don’t know they have the support they need or how to draw on that support. And I loved how she mixed in several moments of pure happiness, which made the tragic moments hit that much harder. I also love the relationship between Salahudin and Noor. It felt real in a way of lot of friendships don’t and I also loved that it showed how true friends will always find each other and reconnect no matter the circumstances. Even when the circumstance is a major screw up on one person’s part.
Something new-to-me was the inclusion of a content warning. Given some of the plot points, it was needed and I hope more books start including them.