“Anger is a Gift” A Must Read


Teresa Ariza, Podcast Editor

Mark Oshiro’s novel “Anger is a Gift” is about an increasingly oppressed group of teenagers who protest against police brutality in their school. They struggle with the fact that, whether or not they protest, they would still get hurt. 

This novel has been praised for the amount of diversity present: the main character, Moss Jeffries, a black gay teen, whose friends include a trans, a non-binary, a bisexual, an asexual, a Latino, an undocumented, and a disabled character. The novel takes place in Oakland, a well-known black neighborhood in California. Jeffries struggles with anxiety disorder after his father was shot by a trigger-happy cop, who thought his father was a murder suspect. As a new sophomore in high school, Jeffries and his group of friends are surprised to see new security measures implicated for seemingly no reason. As tensions rise with the police officer and the student body, Jeffries meanwhile finds himself a boyfriend. It all comes to a climax when Jeffries schedules a walkout in his school to protest the police’s forceful actions in the school, and a cop ends up killing his boyfriend, Javier. The novel ends in a protest against police brutality that turns violent.

“Anger is a Gift” speaks of topics not often talked about in literature and has a lot of minority representation. Oshiro sheds light on many social issues, such as wealth disparity, and racism both in communities and within friendships. However, I feel as though Oshiro included too much violence in the novel, which was unnecessary for the Young Adult genre. I understand the author’s motives to teach young adult readers these topics, but the ways he presents them are too extreme. Oshiro makes the United States seem almost dystopian in the way he shows the treatment of minorities. Besides all of these exaggerations, the way Oshiro writes brings emotion into the novel will really change your perspective on the world and how other, more underprivileged people are treated.