Book Review

The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give

  • Author: Angie Thomas
  • Genre: YA Contemporary
  • Publication Date: February 28, 2017
  • Publisher: Balzer & Bray
  • Series: The Hate U Give #1

TRIGGER WARNING: addiction, domestic violence, gun violence, discrimination, racism, police brutality, police shooting, gang violence, rioting

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Let me just start by saying, WOW. THIS is the kind of book that needs to be included in school curriculums.

I’ve heard a lot about this book, and came across it on Scribd. It’s been on my TBR list, and I figured that it was time to get around to reading it. With everything that’s been happening in the United States (and around the world in response), I’ve really been making even more of an effort to read, support, and amplify Black voices in the community. This book, in particular, made me realize how whitewashed history classes in our educational system are — Starr’s father discusses major figures in Black history, and I really had to spend time looking them up to learn more about them. I’m super grateful to Angie Thomas for giving me a starting point and the motivation to educate myself in order to fill the gaps in my education. Even though I normally do not read non-fiction, I’ve already started to read books to learn more about Black history.

Starr is a teenager who straddles two worlds — she attends an upper-class, privileged, majority White private school, but she lives in a “ghetto” Black neighborhood. While she puts on one persona at school, she faces a very different reality at home, where gangs, violence, drugs, and shootings are commonplace experiences. As a result, she struggles to find her place.

The events of this story mirrored current events so closely. It was almost to an uncomfortable degree, in fact. The murder of Khalil, an unarmed Black man, at the hands of a cop becomes a national headline. Who Khalil was immediately comes into question, and protests follow as the community seeks justice. Starr has to make the tough decision to stay quiet or speak up, and whichever choice she makes will have major consequences for her and the community.

I was absolutely blown away at how beautifully written this story was. It’s a raw, unflinching look at the reality that so many Black people face, and it gave me some new insight into the struggle that so many Black people deal with on a daily basis.

“When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and bees. … The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me. Momma fussed and told Daddy I was too young for that. He argued that I wasn’t too young to get arrested or shot.”

I especially loved how the book touches on institutional racism, and how that contributes to a system that is stacked against Black people from the start. It talks about how society plays a role in racism and discrimination and police brutality, and why this has gone on for so long. Too long. The way society and the media is quick to blame the victim, by casting them as a thug, a drug dealer, a gangster, a criminal, in order to justify these inexcusable actions.

“‘So, what’s the hate they’re giving the ‘little infants’ in today’s society?’ ‘Racism?’… ‘That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug Life.”

Starr isn’t perfect. None of the characters in the story are. They’re multifaceted, real characters that you could find in any state, any city, and they experience horrific events that no one should have to go through. But ultimately, things don’t change unless we demand change. So we do what we can. Protest. Sign petitions. Support and amplify Black voices. Donate. Educate yourself to learn more. Whatever you’re able to do is a step in the right direction. Here’s a link to get you started.

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