The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 28, 2017
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.
Please allow me to be honest. I had a very hard time reviewing this novel. I am a white lady living in a very white part of Minnesota. I teach a total of three African American students in all six of my classes. Reading this novel was like opening a whole different part of the world. I am really not sure about how much of this was exaggerated for the purpose of entertainment and how much is based on the way that things really are. As a result of my lack of knowledge, I don't think I'm the right person to speak about this book from a political/racial point of view. I do, however, know quite a bit about readability and literature in general. Please allow me to write my review about the things I do know about.
Angie Thomas is a master of characterization. If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that I find it impossible to get into a book when I don't care about the characters. Thomas' characters destroyed me. I know that Khalil really didn't spend much time in this novel, but I cried when he died. After all, he was just a kid! He was trying to take care of his friend. I can't imagine being Starr in this particular instance, watching my good friend get murdered right before my eyes. I don't think that I would have the personal strength to come back from that. This, however, is where Starr really shines. Not only does she choose to grow from a timid follower to a brave leader. She stands up against her friends, her society, and even her own comfort. I hope that every one of my students chooses to read this book so that they can learn from Starr's wonderful example of pure bravery and courage.
Throughout the entire novel, I fell deeper and deeper in love with Thomas' writing style. She may be an adult herself, but she knows how to get into the mindset of a teenager with impressive accuracy. Too often, adult writers strive to make teenagers seem whinier than they truly are. Many (not all) adult writers forget that, like adults, kids have worries and fears and concerns about things that matter. It isn't all just about their hair products or dating. Thank you, Thomas, for bringing a fresh sense of reality to the Young Adult genre.
I absolutely adore this book. It is one that I put off reading because of my limited knowledge with the politics surrounding it. After reading it, I will admit that it is truly eye-opening. I am excited to read more from Angie Thomas.