“When I was 12, my parents had two talks with me,” protagonist Starr Carter recalls. “One was the birds and the bees.” The second was what to do if stopped by police. “‘Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.’”
About the Book
Before the shooting, Starr lived in two different worlds. Her weekdays were spent in a predominately white, affluent private school. There, she’s cool by default, she explains, because she’s one of the few black students. Yet, she’s careful not to act too ‘black’ for fear the white students will think she’s ‘ghetto’. At home in her gang-ridden neighborhood, she’s a sassy-mouthed, Air Jordan loving girl who works part-time at her gang-legend dad’s convenience store.
But then Khalil’s shooting becomes national news. The media justifies her friend’s death by labeling him a thug and drug dealer. Many agree, including one of her best friends at school. There was always a rift between her two worlds, but now it’s larger than ever.
As Starr says, “I hope none of them asks me about my spring break. They went to Taipei, the Bahamas, Harry Potter World. I stayed in the hood and saw a cop kill my friend.” Start has hard choices to make. If she speaks out, will it mean justice for Khalil? Or will it only serve to further isolate Starr?
The stories of Eric Garner, Treyvon Martin, Philando Castile, and many others haunt the pages of Angie Thomas’ debut novel “The Hate U Give.” Through the eyes of Starr, she reveals the reality of systemic racism, as well as a gut-punching sense of what it’s like to be young and black in America today. Thomas’s talent for writing natural dialogue and exceptional characters will elevate the story above any others you’ve recently read. Your heart will go out to Starr as you cheer her on, all the while hoping that the gross lack of justice in real life isn’t repeated in the pages of this fictional book.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is a young adult novel told from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old girl, but the story will appeal to far more than just teens. There isn’t a more authentic voice than that of youthful innocence to lay bare the reality of racism and take it straight to readers’ hearts. “The Hate U Give” will indeed serve as a mirror for some, but as a much-needed window for the rest.
Thomas deserves our highest praise — and thanks.
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