All the Fighting Parts / Hannah V. Sawyerr / Book Review


Amina Conteh is a lot like her mother: she doesn't believe in holding back. Not when she has something important to say, and Amina is never short on words. Others might find her loud, brash, and mean but Amina doesn't believe in holding back. Even when it gets her in trouble. Even when she gets stuck "volunteering" at church as penance.

Working under Pastor Johnson isn't that bad. At first. But Pastor Johnson isn't the upstanding Man of God everybody thinks.

When Amina is sexually assaulted by Pastor Johnson, everything changes. The voice she's used as a weapon all her life is silent. She can't speak about what happened. She can't even think about it. Her father's frustrated that her grades are slipping and she doesn't care. Her friends and boyfriend are frustrated that she's aloof, quiet and distant. And the church doesn't know anything is wrong in the congregation. Until Pastor Johnson gets arrested. Until Amina realizes she isn't alone. Until Amina gets the chance to finally speak.



I don't know if I can adequately explain just how beautiful and how important this book is. It is lyrical and poignant and hard-hitting. It is soul-crushing and uplifting. It is a masterpiece.


City Pride Baltimore might have its problems--and Amina experiences a lot of awful here, too, on a personal level--but this book is still, in many ways, a love letter to urban community. The news screams the bad but doesn't highlight the light of living in Baltimore, the love of the city that is Amina's home. Amina lives in a community that is willing to help each other and provide for each other. And I absolutely adore this. Because in a world of heavy-handed media, we can often forget about the people at the heart of a city. A city isn't just its problems. It's a network of people, real people and the lives they live.

Familiar Amina's story is unfortunately all too familiar. It's the kind of story that everybody knows. It's the kind of story that people whisper about, and I love that this book doesn't do the same. This book shouts about it. This book condemns something awful that is all too common an experience, and I absolutely want to thank Hannah V. Sawyerr for having the courage to speak up, speak out, and write down this story. 

Poetry I'm not often a big fan of novels-in-verse because I don't usually understand why. What's poetry doing in this story that couldn't be done in regular prose? But that's certainly not the case here. Sawyerr's poetry is strong, and the story is stronger for it. The disjointed, fractured nature of the free verse adds to the disjointed (read: shattered) experience that Amina is going through. And the way stand-out lines are highlighted by the free verse, too, means that Sawyerr's words will stick with me (and many readers) for a long, long time. It's an excellent use of verse--an unforgettable one.


Amina is a teenage girl in a serious relationship. We all know where that leads. While I thought these exploratory scenes were incredibly sweet, full of nerves and hope and uncertainty, it bears stating that this content might be a bit much for the younger end of the YA market. While these scenes are consent-heavy in a good way (though the same cannot be said for every encounter in this book), the just-coming-over-from-MG crowd should read with caution. Intimate

This book is heavy. It is hard to read at a lot of points. It is necessary and important and beautifully written, but that doesn't make it any easier to read. It's definitely not a book everyone should pick up. It's a best time and place and judgment kind of book. Heavy

I wish there was more here. This book goes by so quickly, and it is so beautifully expressed that I wanted to dig into more, to keep reading on. That's one of the problems with novel-in-verse, I think: they're always so short. They can feel truncated, even when they come to a natural conclusion. Short



Fans of Ellin Hopkins's Crank will like this new hard-topic-in-verse. Those who appreciated Anna-Marie McLemore's The Mirror Season will love this lyrical story of hope and recovery in the aftermath.


Publisher: Amulet Books
Date: September 19, 2023
Series: N/A
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Note: I was provided with an ARC by the publisher through Edelweiss+ in exchange for an honest review. All opinions here are my own.


  1. I love a book that leaves me speechless. Like I know it's beautiful I can't put into words just how.

  2. You know it’s a good book when it ends with you wanting more! Nice review!

  3. This book sounds so powerful and intense. Seems to be a common theme of things like this happening in real life lately.

    Corinne x

  4. I'm not a fan of novel in verse writing either, so it's interesting that this book changed your POV. A very topical subject right now too.

  5. Wonderful review! This sounds like an absolute must-read.

  6. Sounds like a good read..heavy books are hard but very important.

  7. I recently read The Poet X, which is also novel-in-verse, so I would like to read All the Fighting Parts too. The topic of the book is heavy but important

  8. The Non-Fighting PartSeptember 29, 2023 at 2:42 PM

    I wasn’t included :(

    1. All of the me were included


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