The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 28th 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary, Diversity
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. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.
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.
♥ Quick Thoughts and Rating: 5 stars! I can’t imagine how challenging it would be to tackle the voice of a movement like Black Lives Matter, but I do know that Thomas did it with a finesse only a talented author like herself possibly could. With an unapologetically realistic delivery packed with emotion, The Hate U Give is a crucially important portrayal of the difficulties minorities face in our country every single day. I have no doubt that this book will be met with resistance by some (possibly many) and slapped with a “controversial” label, but if you’ve ever wondered what it was like to walk in a POC’s shoes, then I feel like this is an unflinchingly honest place to start.
In Angie Thomas’s debut novel, Starr Carter bursts on to the YA scene with both heart-wrecking and heartwarming sincerity. This author is definitely one to watch.
♥ Review: The hype around this book has been unquestionable and, admittedly, that made me both eager to get my hands on it and terrified to read it. I mean, what if I was to be the one person that didn’t love it as much as others? (That seems silly now because of how truly mesmerizing THUG was in the most heartbreakingly realistic way.) However, with the relevancy of its summary in regards to the unjust predicaments POC currently face in the US, I knew this one was a must-read, so I was ready to set my fears aside and dive in. That said, I had an altogether more personal, ulterior motive for wanting to read this book. As some of you may know, I am married to a black man and together we have two young sons. I can listen to my husband and his family’s personal stories, but for me, reading is a very visceral experience. A part of me feels like I become the character and their world becomes my world. Bluntly stated, I feel like I needed Starr’s POV to teach me about the walk of life my husband, his family, his friends, and other African-Americans like them across the country have had to endure on a daily basis. A walk that I feel like our sons will have to go through in the future, and it’s simply one that I will never fully understand because of my white privilege. Others may choose to turn a blind eye to the racial divide happening in our country, but I refuse to be one of them, not just for my sons, my husband, and my in-laws, but because it’s the right thing to do. In a world where people like Starr feel stifled and silenced, I want to aid in the movement that lifts their voices up, and I feel by recommending this engaging, thought-provoking novel, I’m on the path to doing just that.
By this point, we all know that this story is about a sixteen-year-old girl who watches her best friend, an unarmed black guy, get gunned down by a white police officer during a routine traffic stop. But for me, this story goes heavily beyond those parameters we see time and again documented on television after each new shooting. It introduces us to the world outside of the facts you’ll find on the police reports and the biased coverage you’ll see on the news. I can say that I’ve made myself watch the videos, follow the proceedings, RT the hashtags, and be empathetic to those around me that are truly impacted by each new occurrence, but THUG humanized the victim and really brought into sharp focus for me the racial discriminations more than I can adequately express in words. It made Khalil more real than just a statistic or a single name on a long list of the lives cut too short by police brutality and racial profiling. More than that, you’ll learn about the boy behind labels such as “thug,” “troubled youth,” or “gang member” and see him as the people who really knew and loved him did, as a son, grandson, brother, and friend. And yet, still, this novel delivers on so much more than just this primary focus. Between the pages of this book, you’ll find heart and community in a place where most people would snub their nose at. You’ll find imperfect, vibrant characters with tenacity who are trying to rise above their circumstances. You’ll find a strong familial bond that shatters stereotypes and a united parental force that is my new OTP. (Starr’s parents and the love they have for one another are EVERYTHING!) Even more, you’ll see THUG as a narration of a young girl caught in-between two worlds– her suburban prep school and her lower income urban neighborhood– who is forced to find herself and her voice for activism after an unspeakable tragedy happens before her very eyes. Through her perspective, we learn to recognize the yearnings and vexations of generation after generation of people who want to be perceived as more than less than
This book also tackles racism head-on, front and center. Starr has a front row seat to both sides of the argument. She knows not all cops are bad because her uncle is one, but she also sees how even the officers in her uncle’s precinct aren’t exactly seeking the justice Khalil deserves. Furthermore, she goes to a prep-school that is predominantly white and she sees firsthand how her peers, particularly her friends and basketball teammates, acknowledge the shooting versus how the people in her community see it. The opposing responses were both realistic and incredibly eye-opening. Shameful doesn’t even begin to touch on how I felt.
Lastly, there is romance, an interracial one at that, even though it plays second fiddle to the more pivotal storylines. With that said, I liked how honestly Thomas portrayed the relationship. She didn’t have Starr shut down when Chris did/said something racially insensitive, she had her call him on it. I only bring this up because Chris genuinely loves Starr and would never intentionally say something hurtful, just as I feel many like myself wouldn’t, but the fact of the matter is we learn to correct our mistakes by paying attention when someone voices their opinion/grievances. But, aside from that learning element procured their interactions with one another, I also enjoyed just how damn cute they were together. I liked that they had similar interests and that Chris sincerely took the time to try to really know Starr. He wanted more than surface-level love. Additionally, I love that they grew together, and that once Starr decided just to be herself around him, not “Williamson Starr,” that he loved her even more.
Overall, this book was a massive undertaking and I feel like Ms. Thomas came out on the other side with an inspired novel filled with quality storytelling. My emotions ran the full gamut in this book, but the feeling I carry away with me most is hope. Hope for the future. Hope that one day mourning, aggrieved families will finally get their justice. Hope for my sons and their possible future sons. Hope for humanity as a whole to bridge the social divide and just do better for one another. Thomas’s novel was certainly a fundamental stepping stone for setting us all on a better path, in my opinion.
♥ Teaser Quote: This one came at the end and it’s long (so hopefully I won’t get in trouble for posting it), but I feel like it perfectly captures the message of this book.
Once upon a time there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug.
He lived, but not nearly long enough, and for the rest of my life I’ll remember how he died.
Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.
It would be easy to quit if it was just about me, Khalil, that night, and that cop. It’s about way more than that though. It’s about Seven. Sekani. Kenya. DeVante.
It’s also about Oscar.
It’s even about that little boy in 1955 who nobody recognized at first–Emmett.
The messed-up part? There are so many more.
Yet I think it’ll change one day. How? I don’t know. When? I definitely don’t know. Why? Because there will always be someone to fight. Maybe it’s my turn.
Others are fighting too, even in the Garden, where sometimes it feels like there’s not a lot worth fighting for. People are realizing and shouting and marching and demanding. They’re not forgetting. I think that’s the most important part.
Khalil, I’ll never forget.
I’ll never give up.
I’ll never be quiet.
– quote taken from The Hate U Give at 98%
|Book Rating Breakdown|
|General Book Feels|
|Degree my heart was ripped out|
|Cute, Fuzzies, Flutters|
♥ Rec It? Emphatically yes! If you read any book this year for substance and/or strong messages, I honestly feel like this novel should be the one. Is it a difficult read? Absolutely. Will it make you take a deeper look at yourself and the people you surround yourself with? Certainly, as it should. Is that all the more reason to add The Hate U Give to your bookshelf? You’re damn right. I try to educate myself more on the things I don’t know and the shortcomings of my peers, and I feel like reading this novel gave me a glimpse in to the other side and allowed me to acknowledge and touch on those frustrations, fears, and injustices of an entire community I’m not necessarily a part of, but need to rally behind anyway.
I look forward to the conversations this book will start and I eagerly await more words from Ms. Thomas. Just like her main character, Starr, I feel like she still has a lot more to say and I need my hands on it ASAP.
♥ A very special thanks to Balzer + Bray and Edelweiss for providing me with an advanced copy of this title.
*Disclaimer: An e-copy of this title was provided by the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. However, that did not influence this review in any way. All thoughts, quotes, and opinions will be of this version and not of the published edition.
Full of giggles, flails, snark and Southern endearments. Avid Reader. Lover of swoony boys, kickass heroines, yummy kissing scenes, and pretty prose.
I like to draw hearts in the sky (eternal optimist) and wish on stars (forever dreamer). Documentaries, sweet tea, sleep, and brightly colored knee-socks are a few of my favorite things. ♥
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