Review: All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr

Posted June 18, 2024 by Richetta in #ownvoices, Book Reviews, Young Adult / 0 Comments

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Review: All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. SawyerrAll the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr
Narrator: Hannah V. Sawyerr
Length: 4 hours 56 minutes
Published by Abrams on September 19, 2023
Genres: Young Adult Fiction / Coming of Age, Young Adult Fiction / Novels in Verse, Young Adult Fiction / Social Themes / Sexual Abuse
Pages: 288
Format: Audiobook
Buy on Bookshop

In the vein of Grown and The Poet X, Hannah V. Sawyerr’s All the Fighting Parts is a searing and defiant young adult novel in verse about reclaiming agency after a sexual assault within the church community.

Sixteen-year-old Amina Conteh has always believed in using her voice as her weapon—even when it gets her into trouble. After cursing at a classmate, her father forces her to volunteer at their church with Pastor Johnson.

But Pastor Johnson isn’t the holy man everyone thinks he is.

The same voice Amina uses to fight falls quiet the night she is sexually assaulted by Pastor Johnson. After that, her life starts to unravel: her father is frustrated that her grades are slipping, and her best friend and boyfriend don’t understand why the once loud and proud girl is now quiet and distant. In a world that claims to support survivors, Amina wonders who will support her when her attacker is everyone’s favorite community leader.

When Pastor Johnson is arrested for a different crime, the community is shaken and divided; some call him a monster and others defend him. But Amina is secretly relieved. She no longer has to speak because Pastor Johnson can’t hurt her anymore—or so she believes.

To regain her voice and sense of self, Amina must find the power to confront her abuser—in the courtroom and her heart—and learn to use all the fighting parts within her.

Thanks to the Libro.FM Educator ALC Program, I had the awesome opportunity to listen to an Advanced Listening Copy of All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr . Huge shoutout to the author for reading her own book, because she did an amazing job! She truly captured the voice, attitude and grief of teenage main character, Amina Conteh.

I loved the audiobook! I would recommend either reading the physical book as you listen or doing a re-read after listening to the audiobook. I say this because of the transcripts, text messages, letters and other multimodal elements incorporated into the book. They bring an additional layer of nuance to the story that you will appreciate. 

Novel in Verse

This novel in verse is about Amina Conteh, a Black girl in Baltimore who lives with her father. She is a normal teenage girl. But she gets in trouble in school for defending herself against racially biased harassment in class. When teased she reacts and cusses out the boy who won’t keep his mouth shut. A white boy who antagonizes her about being a Black girl in an upper level class.

Amina can be unsure of herself at times. She is also starting her first mature relationship with a boy. It’s a new situation that she is learning to navigate. But what she is never unsure of his her own voice…until that night.

The Struggle To Hold Onto Your Voice

All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr is a story about a girl’s voice. Amina is on a journey of having it, losing it, regaining it, reinventing it, and holding onto it as she recovers from being sexually assaulted by her pastor.

Dispersed throughout the poetry are also police transcripts. They tell a story of the past and present and the impending prosecution of her pastor. As the story goes back and forth between present day and the past before the assault happened, you learn about Amina as a girl unafraid to voice her opinions and stand up for herself. After the assault, she feels as if her voice has been stolen from her both by her assaulter and her own father. 

Before the Assault

Before the assault, Amina is developing into a young woman, despite not having her mother around who died when she was younger. She begins a relationship with a boy at her school and it gets serious enough for her to lose her virginity to him. I think this part is important, because some people use girls’ and women’s sexual experience against them when defending their attacker. The story highlights the difference between her relationship with her boyfriend, Deon, and how that grew versus the grooming that Pastor Johnson engages her in. Amina knows that something isn’t right with how the pastor approaches her and addresses her, but she is at a disadvantage of understanding the danger she is in because of her youth. 

Dealing With Grief

There is a lot of grief in All the Fighting Parts. There is grief for the loss of her mother, grief for the distant relationship she has with her father. She is in mourning for her voice as her case plays out in the public eye. She is in mourning for her relationship with Deon where she felt safe and loved. But there is also triumph and I appreciate that her story is multi-dimensional and still has hope in it. 

Teen Girl Book Club

All the Fighting Parts is definitely a good teen girl book club selection. It’s important that teen girls be given a safe space to discuss sexual assault and what to be on the lookout for when grown men are trying to start inappropriate relationships with them. The author captures Amina’s voice so well because she went through a similar situation. 

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#AlltheFightingParts #BlackGirlsRead 

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