All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir // Book Review

All My Rage by Sabaa Tahir // Book Review

I just shared my thoughts with a friend and my review went basically like this:

Now, I’m not usually the type to express my emotions through gifs, but I’m making an exception for this book. Thanks to Penguin Teen for a gifted copy of this book.

Here’s more about All My Rage

Lahore, Pakistan. Then.
Misbah is a dreamer and storyteller, newly married to Toufiq in an arranged match. After their young life is shaken by tragedy, they come to the United States and open the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, hoping for a new start.

Juniper, California. Now.
Salahudin and Noor are more than best friends; they are family. Growing up as outcasts in the small desert town of Juniper, California, they understand each other the way no one else does. Until The Fight, which destroys their bond with the swift fury of a star exploding.

Now, Sal scrambles to run the family motel as his mother Misbah’s health fails and his grieving father loses himself to alcoholism. Noor, meanwhile, walks a harrowing tightrope: working at her wrathful uncle’s liquor store while hiding the fact that she’s applying to college so she can escape him—and Juniper—forever.

When Sal’s attempts to save the motel spiral out of control, he and Noor must ask themselves what friendship is worth—and what it takes to defeat the monsters in their pasts and the ones in their midst.

From one of today’s most cherished and bestselling young adult authors comes a breathtaking novel of young love, old regrets, and forgiveness—one that’s both tragic and poignant in its tender ferocity.

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My thoughts

I didn’t know what to expect when I started reading this book, but I didn’t expect what came from it. A story about two young people who are thrown into the mix of adulthood, parents who don’t act like parents, and that gnawing feeling that you have to do something because who else will? There’s so much to unpack in this story and it doesn’t read like your typical YA contemporary story. I honestly think Sabaa Tahir’s outdone herself with this one.

Sal (short for Salahuddin) is a young guy who’s mother is really sick and his father drinks too much. They own the Cloud’s Rest Inn Motel, but with his mother’s illness and his father’s drinking there isn’t much of a hotel left. Noor is an immigrant from Pakistan living with her uncle. While things seem normal on the surface, Noor’s uncle doesn’t like her speaking in Urdu or Punjabi. He doesn’t like her going to the local mosque. He doesn’t want her to go to college.

On top of all that, Noor told Sal how much she loved him and he didn’t say anything.

The story is told in dual perspectives and dual timelines. The timelines are about Sal’s familiy and how they made their way to the US and the events leading up to the present day. I really loved the dual perspectives and the timeline for this book. You get this sense there’s a lot of secrets shrouded in their past and as you read the book, these secrets slowly reveal themselves. You get a better understanding of why things have turned out so wrong for both Noor and Sal.

There’s a lot of complicated emotions happening in this book. Love, loss, hope, grief, pain, sadness, and happiness are all prevalent throughout the pages. Most of the time, I just wanted to reach into the book and hug both Sal and Noor and tell them it’s going to be alright. The book constantly pushes Noor and Sal into situations that require them to grow up much faster than they need to. It’s one of those stories where the adults in their lives have failed them and they feel obligated to take matters into their own hands.

Of course, they’re young. They’re still in high school with a huge future ahead of them, so when you see the kinds of decisions they make you definitely feel a sense of regret for them. You want them to make “good” decisions, but then you remember that they’re just kids and they’re trying to do their best without much help from the adults in their lives. It will definitely complicate you and in good Sabaa Tahir fashion, you’ll never see the ending coming.

Overall, this was such a great read filled with tons of heart, lots of emotion, and a real test of what Sabaa Tahir can do with a contemporary story. I loved reading every minute of it.

Made in Korea by Sarah Suk // Book Review

Made in Korea by Sarah Suk // Book Review

Is there anything more fun than a contemporary YA romance with a bit of identity, forging your own path, and really coming-of-age? Probably! But if you’re looking for something upbeat with a bit of conflict and whole bunch of K-beauty products, then this is the book for you.

Here’s More about Made in Korea

There’s nothing Valerie Kwon loves more than making a good sale. Together with her cousin Charlie, they run V&C K-BEAUTY, their school’s most successful student-run enterprise. With each sale, Valerie gets closer to taking her beloved and adventurous halmeoni to her dream city, Paris.

Enter the new kid in class, Wes Jung, who is determined to pursue music after graduation despite his parents’ major disapproval. When his classmates clamor to buy the K-pop branded beauty products his mom gave him to “make new friends,” he sees an opportunity—one that may be the key to help him pay for the music school tuition he knows his parents won’t cover…

What he doesn’t realize, though, is that he is now V&C K-BEAUTY’s biggest competitor.

Stakes are high as Valerie and Wes try to outsell each other, make the most money, and take the throne for the best business in school—all while trying to resist the undeniable spark that’s crackling between them. From hiring spies to all-or-nothing bets, the competition is much more than either of them bargained for.

But one thing is clear: only one Korean business can come out on top.

My Thoughts

I really loved this one. It was a fun little YA contemporary story that is perfect for the summers and most important, summer vacation. It’s got an upbeat feel to it and even the conflicts that these kids came across throughout the story weren’t too overwhelming. It’s light and airy with a bit of conversation about identity, but ultimately a fun treat when you need a break.

As I mentioned, the conflicts in this novel were real conflicts, but still light and fun. Making a bet to see who’s K-beauty business will win at the end of the year sounds like a fun but serious endeavor and the kinds of havoc it wreaked on both Valerie and Wes weren’t the kinds that would threaten their lives or put them in danger. It was more about trusting each other, having good senses, and avoiding the urge to cheat.

I loved the characters the most. Valerie is this very determined person who’s had a K-beauty business working out of her school locker for the entirety of their high school career. She’s finally at the home stretch when her rival, Wes Jung, comes into town with some unique products of his own. I was so surprised that these teens had their own business and had the blessing of their school to run them. I didn’t even know programs like that existed and honestly, I wish I had one for myself. Valerie felt like someone I knew at my old job who has the head for business. I love that she knows what she wants and driven to get it. I also loved that despite feeling like an adult, she still made mistakes and there was still a lesson for her to learn.

I also really enjoyed Wes. I resonated a lot with him especially when I was younger and also a musician and wanted to do something with that world. His hard conversations with his family also reminded me a lot of the ones I had as a kid. It’s tough to tell your immigrant parents that you want to pursue a career that won’t make a lot of money if you’re not successful. I wholeheartedly felt what Wes felt and rooted for him to have that hard conversation with his parents. But I also loved that it wasn’t all hard work for him. He still had his interests, his own friends, and even someone he was into. He felt rounded out and not just the music geek who wanted to overcome his obstacles.

Overall, this was such a delight and I truly enjoyed every second of it. I can’t wait to see what else Sarah Suk puts out because I think I’ll definitely read more from her.

Thanks Simon Teen for a gifted copy of this book. My opinion hasn’t been influenced by the author or the publisher.