Photo credit: Goodreads
As soon as I heard the buzz surrounding Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give, I was enthralled. A book inspired by the Black Lives Matter Movement and told through the perspective of a black female teen who attends a majority white prep school? Sign me up! I had initially put the book on hold at the library, but after weeks of waiting I decided to purchase it and I’m so glad I did.
Before I go into detail about how much I enjoyed this novel, here’s a look at the summary on Goodreads:
“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.”
So the first aspect of the book that caught my eye, besides the fact that it was about police brutality, was the title. The title is based off of Tupac’s song and album titled Thug Life. Growing up my Dad blasted Tupac in the car, so I felt an instant connection to the book.
Starr, the main character, is one of the most refreshing protagonist that I’ve read about in a while. As a black female teen, with a tight-knit family, attending a private, majority white preparatory school, I connected with her immediately. I loved seeing how our worlds reflected one another and seeing how some of the challenges that Starr struggled with, I struggle with as well. I loved Starr and her father’s relationship. It’s rare to see a positive portrayal of a healthy relationship between a black father and daughter in YA novels, and I drunk it in. With all the different conflicts in the novel– Starr witnessing the death of her best friend, Khalil, her half-brother and close friend living with an abusive father, Starr juggling her identity while going to a private school where she is one of two black students in her grade, secretly dating a boy from her school, and dealing with the trauma of witnessing Khalil’s death– there’s never a slow moment. All of those conflicts, in addition to the conflict of Starr deciding whether or not to speak up or hope that no one outside of her family ever learns that she’s the sole witness to Khalil’s murder, add to the tension.
It would seem that all of these conflicts would be overbearing, and for Starr at times they are. But for the reader, the conflicts blend into one another creating a page-turning book that’s impossible to put down. I sped through this book in one sitting because there was never a dull moment, and I couldn’t make myself put it down.
Some of that is due to the voice. Starr’s voice is crisp, hilarious and relatable. From the code-switching to the way Starr thinks and approaches life, is raw. Starr’s unfiltered voice is what drew me into the story from the first line.
I loved the portrayal of blackness in The Hate U Give. Angie Thomas did a terrific job of showing that blackness is not monolithic. That black teens, especially black boys, are more than just thugs. She drew together a story about the harsh realities that black people face every day and presented the story in such a positive and dynamic way.
As a black teen, I’m constantly looking for a reflection of myself in the media, movies, art, and books. I’m always on the hunt for #ownvoices books. It’s important that I, and others, read books across a wide and diverse range. To say that The Hate U Give is amazing and unforgettable would be an understatement. I’m so proud that it debuted at the #1 spot on New York Times bestseller list because it’s eye-opening and powerful.
All I have to say is read it. Start conversations about it, tweet about it, blog about, give it as a present. And whenever you hear someone belittling the Black Lives Matter movement, give them this book. I believe that The Hate U Give has the power to change the perspective of all readers, and open hearts, eyes, and minds.
★★★★★ 5/5 stars! 10/10 would recommend!
Is this powerful YA book at the top of your TBR list? I know the answer is yes 😉
Comment below if you’ve read this book or are looking forward to doing so!