Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Harper Collins
Publication Date: February 2017
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary
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.
This review has been a long time coming. Too long. I read this book back in December, now over six months ago, and this book has not left my mind since. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, tackling the issues of racism and police brutality in America right now, this book is on everybody’s lips. And rightly so.
This deeply compelling story follows sixteen year old Starr who witnesses the murder of a childhood friend by a police officer. What follows is Starr unsure of what to say, or if she should say anything. Her friends in her school don’t see her race as much of an issue, but also don’t see the issues she faces because of her race, while her friends where she lives feel like she’s detached from ‘their world’ due to the school she attends. Starr finds herself straddling both worlds, unsure of where she belongs, and therefore unsure of how to approach the conflict in both her worlds.
The characterisation and story telling in this novel were fantastic and elevate Angie Thomas to a level far above the norm of a debut novelist. Even in the most serious situations and earnest conversations, Thomas can make you laugh. To find humour in a story so moving and heartbreaking is an incredible feat.
The family dynamic in this novel is another aspect I adore. I love seeing functional families who actually like each other. I don’t know why so many YA authors think it’s a great idea to have everyone hate each other, but The Hate U Give presents a functional, happy family. Well, as functional and happy as one can be in a racist, prejudiced and, quite frankly, terrifying feud.
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
While the message in this book about marginalised groups in our societies is incredibly important, the deeper message is about using your voice when you have the opportunity to. If you have a voice, it needs to be heard. Our words have more of an impact than we can ever imagine, and without using our words, without using our voices, there will never be any change in any aspect of our society. Ultimately, Starr comes to the conclusion that it is crucial that her point of view is heard, no matter how terrifying it may seem, no matter the consequences. Strength and passion and courage are the most important things, and in the end, even if you think your voice doesn’t matter, it matters more than staying silent.
This book is a must read. If you have not read this, go buy it right now. Literally right this second. What are you waiting for?