Sabaa Tahir Asks Us: What Does It Mean to Belong?
Salahudin and Noor were best friends…until “The Fight” tore them apart. Now, Salahudin is mourning the death of his beloved mother, Misbah, along with trying to help his alcoholic father, Toufiq, cope with the loss of his wife and possibly the family business – all while trying to finish high school.
Noor lives with her uncle who wants her to forget her Pakistani roots and her college dreams. For two outcasts who have always had each other to rely on, trying to maneuver through tragedy, racial inequality, and strained family relationships, Sal and Noor need each other now more than ever before.
Check out this book trailer from Penguin Teen:
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All My Rage: An Interesting Warning
Before I get into my thoughts on the novel, it is important that I point out that this book comes with a trigger warning. This is the first time I have seen a printed warning in a novel like this. Not only does the author/publisher advise the reader that there is content that could be upsetting and difficult to read, but on the bottom of the next page is a specific list of the possible triggers: addiction, Islamophobia, death, to name a few.
To be honest, I wasn’t too sure how I felt about this as a teacher at first. Will these warnings stop me from offering this book as an option? Or does it give me more freedom to offer it? I am still not sure how this will play out in a school setting, but as a human I think this is a wonderful idea. For the young adults who have dealt with so much over the last few years, this allows them to make a choice based on what they can mentally handle, and I am way into that.
I am certainly not anti-screens or tech, but these kids have so much thrown at them without their consent through texts, social media, and television – some independent decision making can be empowering for them.
All My Rage: a Deeper Understanding Through Triple Narration
All My Rage is an accessible novel that keeps it moving. The reader is never bored and can easily read this quickly, an excellent choice for our students who don’t want to focus on anything for too long. Also, I love a story with multiple narrators, and Sabaa Tahir gives us three. Sal and Noor both narrate in the present, and we travel back in time to hear Misbah’s story.
I have not yet offered this to my students, but this would be a great independent reading option for units that utilize the following theme topics:
All My Rage: Theme of Loss
Loss is a central theme in this novel. Noor has lost her family and now her best friend. Sal has lost his mom and feels as though he is on the verge of losing everything else that is important to him. This could speak to so many of our kids who are dealing with loss and can’t find anyone who has gone through something similar.
All My Rage: Theme of Belonging
Both Sal and Noor feel like outcasts at school, in their wider community of Juniper, California, and even in their own homes at times. I think most teenagers feel this way at some point in their lives. These years are a time when we are trying to find ourselves, and many times (even if it is not obvious to the outside world), our students feel like imposters and outcasts.
All My Rage: Theme of Making Difficult Choices
The characters in All My Rage have to make difficult choices throughout the story. They have to learn to trust themselves to make the decisions that are right for them. Sometimes that directly opposes advice and expectations of family and loved ones. Sometimes the choices teenagers make are just plain stupid and have far reaching consequences, but are necessary for personal growth.
Without giving too much away, Sal makes a really bad decision for a really good cause. He is caught and faces major consequences. There is so much for our students to learn from Sal’s experience.
All My Rage: Theme of The American Dream
Misbah’s story highlights the idea of the American Dream. Throughout Sal and Noor’s present day storyline, Tabir consistently brings us back in time through Misbah’s life story. Her marriage, her immigration to the United States from Pakistan, and her passion for her beloved motel.
Final Thoughts on All My Rage
In conclusion, I plan to offer this novel as an independent reading choice to my freshman students. I will update this post when I do, but, in the meantime, know that this novel is well worth your time.
Check out some of my other options for independent reading: