Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published by: Walker
Publication date: 6th April 2017
Pages: 438, paperback
Genre: young adult, contemporary, #ownvoices
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
We’ve all heard of this book – it has blown people’s minds both within and outside of the bookish community over the last few months. I was so excited to read this, and once I started I could barely put it down. It’s been said by countless others, but it couldn’t be truer: this book is so so important. This book should be read by everyone. This book will be a classic of our time.
The Hate U Give covers racism in a multitude of forms. There’s the offhand, discriminatory comments her friends make, completely oblivious or perhaps uncaring of the implications behind their words. There’s the way Starr is treated throughout the novel. Then, of course, there’s the act of racism that creates an online storm: Khalil being shot, by a policeman, for no reason. Although of course, it is the shooting of Khalil that carries the plot, it is all these smaller acts of racism that made the book so hard hitting, as these are the things that occur in everyday life that some readers may have been unaware of.
Starr’s narrative is one of the best I’ve ever read. She’s an extremely complex character, and it’s clear how much she struggles with leading two lives – at school, she’s determined not to be a stereotype, to not be labelled the ‘Sassy Black Girl’ or ‘Angry Black Girl’. In her neighbourhood, she still feels out of place. Another thing that struck me was how she wasn’t fearless. She wasn’t immediately ready to speak up; in fact, she was scared throughout the book. Which is a much more accurate representation of real life than if she’d launched into action straight away.
I loved how strong the family element of this book was – both of Starr’s parents were so supportive of Starr, even when she was feeling too afraid to speak out. Beyond the immediate family, relations could be complicated but by the end of the book almost every family member had done something by way of showing an act of solidarity towards Starr. This, paired with the strong feeling of community of this book, is just another reason that I loved it so much.
This book may be fiction, but it is one of the truest stories I have read. It is a book that will challenge your perception on the society we live in, and already it has raised the generally understanding and awareness of the Black Lives Matter movement. I cannot urge you to read this book more.