Best Fiction for Young Adults (#BFYA2023) Featured Review of All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir
Razorbill / Penguin Random House
Publication Date: March 2, 2022
ISBN: 9780593202340

Salahudin (Sal) and Noor are two Pakistani American teens trying to make the best of it before graduating and escaping Juniper, the California desert town where they have few prospects. Noor has had to apply for college in secret, since her abusive uncle expects her to stay and help run the liquor store as payment for him taking her in. Sal has recently lost his loving mother, Misbah, and he’s struggling to keep his family’s motel afloat while his alcoholic father descends into grief. Sal and Noor used to rely on each other, but since The Fight, things are awkward between them. Yet just as they start to reconnect and trust each other again, maybe even fall in love, Sal’s desperate attempts to make money to save his family’s motel endangers them both.

This is a beautiful and brutal contemporary novel about family, faith, and forgiveness, and Tahir shows how difficult it can be for working-class immigrant families to thrive, especially in a majority-white community where they endure racism and Islamophobia. Yet Sal’s and Noor’s connection to each other and their small community bolsters them and gives them hope that shines through even in the most difficult moments. Both teens narrate in distinctive voices, bringing their strong emotions of grief, rage, and desperate hope to the forefront with descriptive language. In short interludes, Misbah tells the story of how she came to America, providing meaningful context about family legacy and how the past shapes the lives of those who come after.

For another authentic story about Muslim teens coming together and falling in love while dealing with racism, grief, and family troubles, try Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali. For another strong portrayal of the immigrant experience in America, with a teen trying to meet her family’s expectations while yearning to be free enough to fulfill her own dreams, try I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika L. Sanchez. 

Krista Hutley

Other Nominated Titles:

  • Vinyl Moon by Mahogany L. Browne
  • Gallant by V.E. Schwab
  • The Agathas by Kathleen Glasgow and Liz Lawson

The Selected Lists teams read throughout the year in search of the best titles published in their respective categories. Once a book is suggested (either internally or through the title suggestion form), it must pass through a review process to be designated an official nomination. 

Each week, the teams feature a review of one of the officially nominated titles. Additional titles to receive this designation are listed as well. At year’s end, the team will curate a final list from all nominated titles and select a Top Ten.