Published by Balzer + Bray on February 28th, 2017
Genres: Young Adult, Contemporary
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.
The Hate U Give instantly made the list of my favourite reads of 2017. You won’t find a lot of 5 stars among my ratings but this one was a no-brainer. I’d been expecting great things of Angie Thomas when this release was first announced, as it tackles an emotionally-charged topic in the US, and it did not disappoint.
When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and the bees. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.
This refreshing, daunting new voice deserves all the hype it’s getting. A lot of authors address and confront hard and controversial topics in their works, but Angie Thomas had her finger on the pulse of time with her debut. With its raw, realistic, and authentic narration, The Hate U Give tackles racism and the police violence related to it, but it digs far deeper than that – it uncovers a flaw rooted in our society. It takes a great deal of courage to make us and the world we live in look into a mirror, and Angie Thomas accomplished just that. No wonder so many readers said this book changed their lives.
“Brave doesn’t mean you’re not scared, Starr,” she says. “It means you go on even though you’re scared.”
This story, however, is not limited to the spectrum of race and racism, prejudice and injustice. Thomas zooms in on various important subjects, and I don’t even know where to start. I’ve seen some readers complain that this book is ‘racist against white people’. Yes, Angie Thomas depicts the prejudices nurtured by Afro Americans against white Americans (and vice versa, obviously) but subtly challenges those through interracial friendships, which is amazing. She portrays the struggle of a girl translating herself back and forth between two colliding worlds – her ‘black’ neighbourhood and her fancy school attended by a majority of white students. She addresses the struggles of interracial relationships. She puts the spotlight on patchwork family dynamics which are present throughout the book. She clashes the realities of parental support and parental neglect. She also takes a stand on toxic friendships and unhealthy group dynamics.
In short, The Hate U Give is a gem you shouldn’t miss in your collection. I’ve rarely been this impressed by a YA contemporary and a debut, at that. So, if you haven’t read it, go read it, and if you haven’t bought it, go buy it, and if you haven’t added it to your tbr, you’d better go smash this beauty onto your tbr.