All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

Noor and Salahudin are two Pakistani teenagers who live in Juniper, California, a small military town on the edge of the Mojave desert. Noor is a straight A student who works part time in her uncle’s liquor store and has dreams of becoming a doctor. Sal helps his parents run a small motel and fills his journal with stories and poems. Pulled together by their small immigrant and Muslim community, they were best friends–until Noor admitted to Sal six months ago that she was falling in love with him. Sal, worried that Noor’s feelings would ruin their lifelong friendship, pulled back and the two have barely spoken since. But they need each now other more than ever. Noor’s mean, petty uncle is doing everything he can to block her escape to college and keep her working in the liquor store, while Sal’s mother is succumbing to untreated kidney disease as his father drinks to escape. The bills are piling up and Sal doesn’t know what to do. When he is offered an illegal way to get out from under his family’s crushing debt, Sal takes it, even though it means lying to Noor and undermining their fragile new relationship. Every choice Noor and Sal are presented with seems to result in a dead end. As Noor says to Sal, “…it feels like too much. I think about the shit we’ve read in school. Those books all about one problem. A kid who’s bullied. A kid who’s beaten. A kid who’s poor. And I think of us and how we’ve won the shit-luck lottery. We have all the problems.” Can Noor and Sal survive in a world where the odds are stacked against them? Maybe–if they can learn to truly trust each other and their faith.

Sabaa Tahir’s searing, gritty novel poignantly highlights the injustice of racism and poverty while celebrating the strength and resilience of youth, family and faith. It’s also a breathtaking love story. Noor and Salahudin, who take turns telling their devastating version of the American Dream in alternating chapters, are unforgettable characters who are as instantly iconic as Ponyboy and Cherry, Eleanor and Park, Hazel and Gus or Maddy and Olly. While the main characters’ titular rage is palpable and their circumstances dire, there is a nugget of hope in the form of Sal’s mother Misbah, who’s loving, lyrical voice glows in short vignettes. And Noor’s running playlists of alternative songs and bands will be deeply appreciated by lovers of grunge and rap alike. Destined to be one of the biggest YA novels of the year, you will want to use all your power to nab a copy of All My Rage, coming to a e-reader, bookstore or library near you March 2022.

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