Today we’re thrilled to reveal the cover for All the Fighting Parts by Hannah V. Sawyerr! The cover was illustrated by Rachelle Baker and the book was designed by Micah Fleming. The book will be released on September 19, 2023 by Abrams/Amulet. Preorder it here, here, here, or here. Keep scrolling for an exclusive Q&A with the author!
Sixteen-year-old Amina Conteh has always believed in using her tongue 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.
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.
What was your favorite part of writing All the Fighting Parts?
I joke that writing All the Fighting Parts felt like I was in a studio recording a diss track. Can I rap? Absolutely not. When I say that what I mean is that writing the novel was really empowering and I love that it made me feel strong. Writing the novel felt like an opportunity to fight for my younger self and young survivors like her. It’s a heavy story and I think readers should approach the novel knowing that, but for me, it was really such an empowering experience. Above all else, I consider All the Fighting Parts a hug to my younger self and to survivors of abuse. Secondly, the novel is my way of calling out abusers and the communities and organizations that protect them.
If there was one message that you’d want every reader of this book to hear, what would it be?
I want readers to consider the ways our society protects abusers when they are well-liked or popular figures. When I wrote the book it was really important to me that the abuser in the novel, Pastor Johnson, was charitable and popular. Oftentimes, when abusers are respected or publicly admired people, they’re protected rather than held accountable despite the fact that they are abusers. But that doesn’t change the fact that people like Pastor Johnson are predators and survivors deserve protection from predators and community support.
For survivors who read my novel, I want them to know that they are worthy of love and understanding. In my experience, I find that survivors tend to think about all the ways in which we could have acted differently to prevent or change our experience, but I don’t believe survivors should have to carry that shame. That was why it was really important to me to make Amina a flawed and imperfect character. She’s loud, angry, and makes honest mistakes but despite all of these things, she is still so worthy of love, community, and care.
What’s one fun fact about the book readers might be interested to know?
I think readers might be interested in the amount of mixed-media the book has. All the Fighting Parts is a novel in verse but there are a lot of police interview transcripts, journal entries, text messages, news articles, and of course, comment sections. I like to say that the book is an “epistolary-adjacent” novel in verse but truthfully I consider epistolary novels and verse novels cousins. They have so many similarities!
What are some other YA #MeToo novels that you would recommend to readers?
Definitely Grown by Tiffany D. Jackson, Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Shout by Laurie Halse Anderson, Muted by Tami Charles, and Blood Water Paint by Joy McCullough just to name a few!
I also recently bought Know My Name by Chanel Miller, which is a memoir, but I’ve been meaning to read it for a while so I’m really excited to dive into that soon!
Hannah V. Sawyerr was recognized as the Youth Poet Laureate of Baltimore in 2016. Her spoken word has been featured on the BBC’s World Have Your Say program, as well as the National Education Association’s “Do You Hear Us?” campaign. Her written word has been included in gal-dem, Rookie, and xoNecole. She holds a BA in English from Morgan State University and an MFA in Creative Writing from The New School. Sawyerr is an English professor at Loyola Marymount University and lives in Los Angeles, California.