The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas published in 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.”
I’ve been wanting to read this book for months, and I finally got my hands on it. It certainly did not disappoint.
This book incorporates every aspect I love about a story; strong characters, a plot that keeps on delivering, and a theme that forces the reader to view themselves, and their society, in a different light. It follows sixteen-year-old Starr Carter as she lives in Garden Heights, a run-down gang-ridden community while attending school in the wealthy, predominantly white suburbs of Williamson. On the way home from a house party, Starr’s childhood friend Khalid is fatally shot by a police officer who pulled them over due to a broken tail light, and she is an intimate witness to his death. Similarly to the many police killings of innocent black men in real life, there was outrage in both his community and on social media. Throughout the entire novel, we see Starr suffering from PTSD from the incident and cope with the growing pressure to achieve justice for Khalid. This novel is constantly escalating in emotions and action taken by Starr, which kept me turning the page even though I had midterms to study for. On a side note, please pray for my GPA.
The characters in The Hate U Give are remarkable. To start, they all have such strong and stable personalities, such as Starr’s father. I would happily read a whole book that followed her father, Maverick Carter, the former gang-member turned family man that has a hot temper and unconditional love for his children. This character has a competitive dynamic with Starr’s Uncle Carlos, who took care of Starr in her early life when Maverick was in prison. I would love to discuss all of the unforgettable characters in this novel and how they contributed to the depth of the story, but we would be here all day. Every single one of them is so genuine and I found myself heavily invested in not only Starr’s life but her community as a whole.
Another character that I found myself loving is Hailey Starr’s upper-class friend from school that reveals herself to be racist after Khalid’s shooting. Okay, I understand why that sounds bad; hear me out though. As much as I hate her from a moral standpoint, I love her from a literary point of view. She represents so many people in our society; the closeted racists that lurk among us. The people who claim they aren’t racist because they have black friends, but argues that the young black kid who was shot by the police deserved it since he was a “thug”. Also, Angie Thomas takes it one step further and made her one of Starr’s best friends. It is heartbreaking to learn that someone you have grown to trust and love has a quality that cannot be overlooked like a bad habit of chewing with your mouth open. It’s a punch in the gut to both Starr and the reader, making the character of Hailey even more impactful. Simply stated, the characters that surround Starr are incredibly compelling and contribute to the powerful themes.
I heard someone say that every white person should read this book, and I couldn’t agree more. Some people might believe that since it’s from the perspective of a young black girl who mainly deals with issues pertaining to the African American community, that they would not be able to relate. This book is not about being able to relate though, it’s about pushing the limits of your moral compass and expanding your frame of mind. Also, if anything, a white person’s inability to relate should encourage them to pick up this book since it can be a valuable tool for learning some empathy and compassion. Beyond the police brutality, I learned a lot about the inner politics of street gangs, specifically the fact that many younger members are trapped in the cycle of violence because they cannot find opportunities elsewhere due to a lack of opportunity. This makes the media labelling Khalid as a thug so much more hurtful, as the only reason he was apart of a gang was to pay off his mother’s debts.
This book had me laughing, crying and shaking my head at society all at the same time. I noticed that my emotions were mirroring Starr’s, a quality I admire in a story. The scariest aspect of this is how real it is. Everything mentioned in this book has been happening for decades, is happening as we speak, and will continue to happen unless those in power decide to open their minds and be held responsible for their actions. It’s a heavy topic that deserves proper attention, both in a literary form and real-life context.
I really can’t think of anything bad to say about this novel. I absolutely loved every part of it. I highly recommend it to anyone who can get their hands on a copy. If you can’t find something to relate to in this, you’ll definitely find something that you can learn from it.
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