I received this book for free from Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published by HarperCollins on February 28th 2017
Genres: Young Adult Fiction, People & Places, United States, African American, Social Themes, Prejudice & Racism, Emotions & Feelings
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Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does—or does not—say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas seems like it is set to become one of the most talked about young adult books of the year. Certainly, it deserves shelf space alongside All American Boys. Thomas’s debut also takes on the hotly debated topic of police brutality and Black Lives Matter, although, the outcome is quite different from All American Boys. I personally found The Hate U Give to be captivating, even as it challenged some of my notions.
The Hate U Give is about a 16 year old Black girl named Starr who lives in Garden City but goes to a much more affluent private school. In fact, Starr is one of the only Black teenagers at her private school. The book opens up with Starr attending a party with one of her friends, at home, and then catching a ride home with her friend Khalil. Unfortunately, Khalil is pulled over by the police on the way home. Khalil is asked to get out of the car and is searched, while also mouthing off to the police officer. When the officer goes to the police vehicle to run Khalil’s information, instead of staying in place, Khalil goes to check to see that Starr is okay. The officer then kills Khalil.
Starr is the only witness to what has happened. She must decide whether to go public with this information, but also is experiencing the trauma of witnessing her friend dying. So, when I say that The Hate U Give challenged my ideas and notions, I am being very serious. So, many of you know that my husband is a police officer. I spend a lot of time with law enforcement and military. My facebook feed has many thin blue line and blue lives matter supporters on it. Personally, I fall more strongly under the Black Lives Matter support.
However, as liberal as I think I am, I had to check my notions and privilege quite a few times while reading this book. I mean, as I first read about Khalil getting shot, I was all he should have been respectful toward the officer. He shouldn’t have moved. But even then, is that a reason to be murdered? Absolutely not. I mean, again, I have seen that video they show in LEO training where I get why officers get nervous about people moving and not complying. Yet still, Khalil was not even given a chance like the guy in the video was – over and over again.
I thought that The Hate U Give did an excellent job portraying Starr’s trauma and her reactions to it. She has not only witnessed the death of her friend Khalil, but the drive by shootings of one of her friends when she was a kid. Now, Starr’s family is facing threats to their safety from a local gang member who doesn’t care for Starr’s dad, who used to be in the gang but is now out. There’s a whole lot of stress that Starr is under. This is to not even mention how Starr navigates between two worlds – that of her White school where she does not want to come off as a sort of stereotypical Black person and that of her Black neighborhood, where she does not want to be seen as acting too white. There does not seem to be a place where Starr really fits.
Speaking of where Starr fits, what I enjoyed about The Hate U Give was the growing pains of the different friendships Starr has. She’s best friends with two girls at her school – Hailey and this other girl whose name I am blanking out on. She’s also good friends with this girl at home in Garden City, Kenya, who shares a brother with Starr. Starr’s brother Seven has the same father as Starr but the same mother as Kenya. Anyways, I liked seeing Starr stand up to her privileged white friend Hailey, who says some pretty casually racist things to Starr. Also, I liked that Starr resolves some issues with Kenya, as you’ll see when reading this book.
The Hate U Give also has romance. YAY! So, Starr is dating this white guy named Chris who goes to her school. The two have bonded over a mutual love of The Fresh Prince Of Bel Air and sneakers. Starr’s parents, however, do not know about Chris, because of his race. Neither do her friends at Garden City. We see that there’s definitely cultural differences between the two – Chris is very privileged and very well off. However, despite the mistakes he makes, he is genuinely contrite and wants to treat Starr very well. I thought this aspect of the story added some levity and was quite sweet.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is absolutely not a book to be missed. It’s a brilliant story about one of the most prevalent and often misunderstood social movements to date. Starr is such a well rounded, realistic character. She’s complex and goes through some pretty deep emotions and experiences. So much about this book is excellent. Including the setting, the discussions of race, the characterization, and even the moments that may feel uncomfortable. Believe you me, this book will challenge you. You will come out the other side better for having read it. I highly, highly recommend this book.
Other reviews of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas:
- The Book Smugglers – “There are multitudes within the pages“
- Reads To Live – “the best contemporary novel I have ever read“
- Bookshelves And Paperbacks – “an extremely important novel“