CRAFT STUDIO BY GUEST WRITER MICHELLE WUEST: ALL MY RAGE
What I Was Reading:
All My Rage by Sabba Tahir takes us from Lahore, Pakistan (then) to recount the story of Misbah and Toufiq (who are Salahudin’s parents) to (now) in Juniper, California to join the stories of Salahudin and his best-friend, Noor.
It is a fantastic YA novel told in three points of view– tackling issues of Islamophobia, alcoholism, and domestic violence; while also exploring the pressures of high school, the heartbreak of family, the beauty of friendship and the gift of forgiveness and compassion. Heartbreaking and tender, well worth the read.
What Moves I Noticed the Author Making:
Tahir makes some writerly craft choices worth exploring: using repetition, italics, and single word sentences that follow the rule of three.
- The first repetition is the italicized “ Bang. Bang” taken from her reference to a song which is punctuated with the actual sound of gunshots. (Many young readers will likely get this reference.)
- Her next paragraph employs the rule of three: the names of the three Universities that she has been rejected from in single word sentences, one after another– just like the gunshots. And, followed by yet another magic three: the repetition of the word rejection. Each letter, each rejection, are like gunshots to her hopes.
Here is the passage:
The letters come in hard and fast. Like the gunshots in M.I.A’s “Paper Planes.” Bang. Bang. Bang.
Yale. Columbia. Cornell.
Rejected. Rejected. Rejected.
- The book itself is divided into six parts. Each part opens with a stanza from Elizabeth Bishop’s poem “One Art.” Noor selects the poem for her English analysis essay because she liked the first sentence. Or, she amends: “Well. Sort of. Mostly I picked it because it’s short. But it’s also weird. It’s about misplacing stuff, like keys and houses. How the hell do you misplace a house?” But the poem is really about accepting loss as inevitable. And so is this novel.
“One Art” by Elizabeth Bishop
The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
so many things seem filled with the intent
to be lost that their loss is no disaster.
Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
places, and names, and where it was you meant
to travel. None of these will bring disaster.
I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
The art of losing isn’t hard to master.
I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.
—Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
the art of losing’s not too hard to master
though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
- Tahir gives us Noor’s inner thoughts as she reveals the veneer of Noor’s college admission essays, juxtaposing the truth next to what she actually submits.
A problem I solved. (Truth: heartbreak. What I wrote: a poor English grade.)
A life-altering experience. (Truth: my entire family dying and the smell of their bodies rotting around me. What I wrote: working at Juniper Hospital.)
My biggest life challenge. (Truth: they don’t want to know. What I wrote: bullying in high school.)
- Throughout the novel Noor is plugged into music or at the very least referring to it. Here is (a mostly complete) Noor’s Playlist. It already has some songs I do love, wonder what else I may discover? Check it out here.
Possibilities for Writers:
- Experiment with the rule of three repetition in your own writing.
- Play with one word sentences and short paragraphs to create effects in your writing.
- Use the stanzas of a poem to create an outline for a piece of writing.
- Play with offering a character’s (or your own) inner thoughts. You can copy Tahir’s set-up of: Truth… and What I Wrote… or Truth… and What I Was Really Thinking…
- Make a playlist inspired by a novel you are reading. What might the characters listen to? What songs would be perfect background for a scene? Or, do you characters actually refer to songs, movies or other texts that may help you compile a playlist?
Michelle Wuest is and English teacher & SPR at Leo Hayes High School with over 20 years helping students find the right book. When not teaching or reading you’ll find her tap dancing, practicing yoga, walking her Doodle, seeing live music with her husband, or listening to her son rattle of random NFL stats for the eleventy-billionth time.