“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas (2017)
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary, YA
Page Length: 444 pages (hardcover edition)
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. (description from Goodreads)
I’m late on the bandwagon with this review, but I’m glad I finally picked it up. The Hate U Give follows the main character, Starr, who witnesses her close friend Khalil being shot by the police. The book focuses on the aftermath of the shooting, how Starr copes with the death of her friend, and what backlash arises after it.
The novel was definitely hard to read at times, but I feel that the narrative is extremely important. This book is relevant and timely especially with Black Lives Matter in the media and stories like Khalil’s that we see in the news. I also think this is a book that many young black teens and young adults like myself can see themselves in. I found I could relate to Starr’s struggles as I also went to the same school setting as she did. I dealt with a lot of the stuff her character goes through such as finding it hard to fit in her home neighborhood of Garden Heights and school because she felt that she had to act a certain way in each surrounding.
I like that Thomas’ language is gritty and real, she doesn’t scoot around the hard issues and takes everything head on. I appreciated all the dialogue she created by tying it to various issues: race, police brutality, poverty, oppression, and so much more. It was solid commentary on the real world and having relatable characters made it easy for readers for readers to digest. Emotionally it is a hard book to read and the book had me in tears at multiple points.
I couldn’t put the book down and I loved the overall message of speaking up for what you believe in! Thomas’ writing is smooth and consistent throughout the whole book, the plot flows seamlessly. She paints a very realistic portrait of things that PoC face on an everyday basis. My favorite part of the book was Starr’s family. Even though they hand their differences at times and fight they are so tight-knit. I admired that she could always rely on them and that they always backed her up and gave her the support they needed.
I don’t want to give too much of the story away (for those who still haven’t read it), but I will say that I knew certain events would transpire the way they did but was glad that were some social justice wins. Starr finally found “her voice” to speak up and defend Khalil’s honor and making statement on all of the issues that was going on in her community. This book deserves all of the praise it’s getting and I would love to see this book included in a school’s curriculum.
Everyone should read The Hate You Give!
*Trigger warnings for violence