Reviews of the 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Fiction and Poetry Award Winner and Honor Books

Fiction and Poetry Winner

All My Rage
by Sabaa Tahir
High School    Razorbill/Penguin    384 pp.    g
3/22    978-0-593-20234-0    $19.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-20235-7    $10.99

In this stark and searing sort-of love story, two Pakistani American teens living in a California desert town struggle to choose connection over isolation when family crises strike. Salahudin — artsy, aimless, and anxious — feels the weight of the pressures posed by his sick mother, his alcoholic father, and the crumbling motel they own, which barely pays the bills. His ambitious and science-minded estranged childhood friend, Noor, needs a hefty scholarship to escape the domineering uncle with whom she lives, but gets rejections instead. Through chapters that alternate between their first-person perspectives, Sal and Noor tell intertwining stories of their urgent attempts to steer their own lives without support from family or their majority-white community. Sal’s mother — whose potent flashbacks of her immigration when she was young are interspersed throughout — is a reliable model of faith and optimism for both teens; her sudden death at first draws Sal and Noor closer, but grief and guilt soon lead Sal to a cascade of risky, tension-raising decisions that threaten their futures. While some descriptive language, especially dreamy Sal’s, borders on melodramatic, the tight focus on each teen’s emotional experience reveals a rich layering of determination, trauma, anger, and integrity underneath their raw reactions. This is a brutal depiction of the toll taken on some young marginalized and working-class people trying to conquer the odds; watching Sal’s and Noor’s devastating loneliness finally give way to glimmers of hope is both satisfying and affecting. JESSICA TACKETT MACDONALD

From the May/June 2022 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


Honor Books

Rez Dogs
by Joseph Bruchac
Intermediate, Middle School    Dial    192 pp.    g
6/21    978-0-593-32621-3    $16.99
e-book ed.  978-0-593-32623-7    $9.99

In this verse novel, Malian, a Penacook girl, is visiting her grandparents on the Penacook reservation when shelter-in-place orders are given due to COVID-19. Malian misses her parents and friends, but she spends time with a dog that has mysteriously appeared, and she enjoys listening to her grandparents’ retellings of traditional stories. They also tell her about some of the more difficult parts of their history that have affected their nation, such as boarding schools and forced sterilizations, all touched on by Bruchac (Peacemaker, rev. 7/21) in an accessible and age-appropriate way. Ultimately, Malian’s grandparents remind her that their people have survived pandemics before, through caring for one another. Young readers will be able to understand Malian’s situation, including technological struggles in connecting to her remote classroom. The book’s ending — in which Malian waits eagerly but with mixed emotions for her parents to pick her up — raises relatable questions of home, friendship, and belonging. NICHOLL DENICE MONTGOMERY

From the September/October 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


by Thomas King; illus. by Natasha Donovan
Intermediate, Middle School, High School    Little, Brown    192 pp.    g
9/21    978-0-316-59306-9    $24.99
e-book ed.  978-0-316-59303-8    $9.99

Originally a short story in King’s adult collection One Good Story, That One, this comics version retains its complexity, dry humor, and sharp political edge. A boy (the narrator) from a Blackfoot reservation in Alberta drives with his mother to visit his sister, who has moved to Salt Lake City. At the tiny border crossing in Sweetgrass, Montana, a border guard asks the mother to state her citizenship. “Blackfoot,” she says. She’s denied entry to the United States (“It would have been easier if my mother had just said ‘Canadian’ and been done with it, but I could see she wasn’t going to do that”) and sent back to Canada — to the tiny border crossing in Coutts, a hundred yards away. “Your citizenship?” the Canadian border guard asks. “Blackfoot,” the boy’s mother replies, and is denied re-entry to Canada. Stuck between borders, mother and son spend several nights sleeping in the car, near the duty-free shop, until they are allowed to cross into the U.S. as a result of media attention. The ­thematic and literary richness of this story is exhilarating, unsettling the insistent binary of American/Canadian nationalities for the lived reality of Indigenous nationhood. But the story is textured, too: the unspoken reasons for the mother’s resistance to her daughter’s departure; the daughter’s own motives in going. The geography, accurately and evocatively rendered by Donovan, is yet another multi-layered presence, raising a multitude of insights and questions about borders, identity, and the passing on of culture. All this is delivered with a light touch by the narrator, whose perpetual quest for food is realistic and funny. DEIRDRE F. BAKER

From the November/December 2021 issue of The Horn Book Magazine.


The 2022 Boston Globe–Horn Book Award winners and honors were announced on June 22nd, 2022. For reviews of the other winning titles and more, click on the tag BGHB22.

Horn Book
Horn Book

Be the first reader to comment.

Comment Policy:
  • Be respectful, and do not attack the author, people mentioned in the article, or other commenters. Take on the idea, not the messenger.
  • Don't use obscene, profane, or vulgar language.
  • Stay on point. Comments that stray from the topic at hand may be deleted.
  • Comments may be republished in print, online, or other forms of media.
  • If you see something objectionable, please let us know. Once a comment has been flagged, a staff member will investigate.



We are currently offering this content for free. Sign up now to activate your personal profile, where you can save articles for future viewing.