The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published by Balzer + Bray on February 28, 2017
Pages: 464
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Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty.

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.

I received this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

How do I talk about The Hate U Give? How do I tell you that this story is gut-wrenching and is the best and most important book of the decade? How do I tell you that Angie Thomas creates the most complex characters I’ve ever read and that she busts stereotypes left and right? How do I begin? I’ll never be able to do this book the justice it deserves, so here are my thoughts.

I’ll start with the characters. Starr is so vibrant, she jumps off the page. She’s stuck in the middle of the white world of her suburban prep school and the Garden, her black neighborhood. She doesn’t really fit in with either, and yet she can fit in with both when she needs to. Textbook Double Consciousness.

Her father Maverick is my favorite secondary character. He breaks so many stereotypes, and yet he upholds some too. People are complex and sometimes have conflicting feelings, and so does he. His relationship with Starr’s mother is everything. I laughed so much (in the best way possible) at them.

And then there’s Khalil. Khalil, unarmed and shot by a police officer at the beginning of the story, is a posthumous character. A lot is said about him, both true and untrue. Even Starr buys into some of the untruths about him. His character alone shows us the danger of a single story, as Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie says in her TED talk of the same title. Angie Thomas forces us to examine our biases and prejudices when reading about Khalil. As a white woman, I don’t presume to know everything there is to know about black people, or people of any color, but I do consider myself fairly well-informed … and I learned so much about prejudice and bias, just like I expected to.

They story is heartbreaking, gut-wrenching, scary, funny, heartwarming, and all the contradictory feels rolled into one book. I have never run such a roller coaster of emotions in one book before.

The Hate U Give gives everyone a good look into black culture, forcing us to examine and deal with the idea that the United States is not a “post-racial” society. Not in the least. Not while Starr’s parents (and real parents across the country) have to sit their kids down and teach them how not to get shot by the police.

Verdict

The most important YA book of the decade. I would call it required reading for teens, their parents, and all adults.

five-stars

© 2017, Jessica Workman Holland. All rights reserved.