Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Review: The Hate U Give

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Pages: 444
Availability: On shelves
Review copy: Digital ARC via Edelweiss & library copy post pub

Summary: 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.

Review: Starr has some seriously heavy things to deal with after she witnesses the shooting of her friend. She isn't named in the press and she has to decide if she wants to go public. She can keep quiet and try to go about her life. That's the safe path. She's scared though and doesn't want to have any of this affect her or her family. The problem is that even if she stays quiet, their lives have already been affected. 

I loved this book for so many reasons. First, Starr is a fully human character with all her quirks and strengths. She makes me laugh, cry, cringe, and shake my head sometimes. I also adore her family. This book is about so much more than a shooting. It's about what a family can and does do for each other. There are parents here that are trying hard and still fail, but they keep trying. That was something shown over and over again. You also see that there are often layers of things happening. It may look like someone doesn't care, but it's not necessarily the case. Their way of showing love just might not look the way you would expect.

Starr is a student at a predominantly White prep school. As a White reader, I found it helpful to see the way Starr felt she had to be a different person in school than she was in her neighborhood. The way she moves through the world is different in each space because of the expectations of people around her. I've heard people talk about code switching, but this story really paints a thorough picture of how that looks day to day. I think this is something that many people don't fully understand unless they've been there themselves.

Recommendation: This book has a lot going on and is one I would highly recommend to anyone interested in understanding some of the current discussions around justice and policing. I'll also be recommending it to anyone who wants to read a well crafted story with compelling characters. I didn't want to leave them. In fact, I've read the book three times already and will likely read it again to visit Starr and her family once more.

The Hate U Give discussion at Rich in Color
Politics and Prose Video Interview with Angie Thomas

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