Book Review - The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
I have been putting off writing this review for way too long. It's not even for any particular reason - I just don't know if my words could ever do this book justice. But I'm going to try, because it's important and needs to be talked about.
The Hate U Give follows Starr Carter, a high school student stuck in two different worlds. She lives in a rough neighborhood, where her dad owns a small grocery store, but goes to school in a wealthy nearby town, where she is one of few black students. Yes, that is a very important aspect of this book - Starr is black. At her school, she has a diverse crew of best friends, a white boyfriend, and plays basketball. And at home, she has this complicated family situation, with a half brother named Seven and a best friend who is Seven's half sister. And she has Khalil, her childhood best friend.
Starr is at a party, and then shots ring out. So she ditches the party with Khalil. They're riding along when the car gets pulled over. One of the most poignant parts of the book occurs early on, when Starr is sitting in the car with Khalil. She talks about what her dad has taught her when she's around police - don't move, don't speak unless spoken to, etc. etc. During the stop, Khalil is made to get out of the car. When the officer walks away, he moves to check on Starr, to make sure she's okay.
The cop shoots him. Khalil dies in her arms.
All of that happens in the first chapter or two, and has been talked about a lot since the book's release, so I don't feel like I spoiled anything. The rest of the book is about the aftermath. Starr has to talk to detectives. She has to testify in front of a grand jury. She has to come to terms with the inherent racism of her own friends. And she has to learn that not everyone is as she was taught by her father (her boyfriend is amazing, but that's all I'm going to say).
If I had the money, I would buy this book for every single person I know and make them read it cover to cover, and then talk to me about it. There are layers, and there is so much that can be discussed. And the author, Angie Thomas, is an absolute gem. I'd go to bat for her any day of the week (not that she'd ever need little old me, but it's worth saying).
3 Things I Loved
- Starr. Our narrator is strong, and brilliant, and so so real. She has so much going on in her life and is able to discuss it with us (the readers) in a very relatable way. She tells the story with honesty, with integrity, and with class. I love Starr. I can't wait to see Amandla Stenberg play her on the big screen.
- The blatant confrontation of racism in the book. This book doesn't shy away from what everyone else and everything else wants to shy away from. Whether the racism is institutional or blatant, it's talked about. We are beat over the head with it (in a good way). Sometimes it's hard to read, but I needed it. Everyone needs it. It's unflinching and it's terrible and it gave me hope in the end.
- Literally everything else. There wasn't a thing in this book that I didn't like. Other highlights - Maverick, Chris, the realness of high school, the intensity of teenage relationships, the complicated family dynamics, the gang stuff. All of it. I loved all of it. And I don't say that often.
No. There wasn't.
A reminder of the rating scale:
- Red = DNF, I hated everything
- Orange = Ugh, no thank you
- Yellow = I mean, I've read worse, but there were problems
- Green = This was good, but not something I'd reread
- Blue = Oh my gosh, everyone should be reading this book
- Purple = This is the unicorn of books and I will be rereading it until the binding falls apart
If there was any book that deserved the highest of ratings, it's this one. I'm giving The Hate U Give a PURPLE rating, because I know I'll read it again, and I'll read it to my children, and I'll be telling people to read it for as long as I have breath in my lungs.
Thank you for writing this, Angie. We all needed it.