Book: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: YA Fiction
Here’s the synopsis from the book cover:
“Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor black 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, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. 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 destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.
Ok, so this book is a 4 star from me. I’m not going to go too deep into analysis but here are the things I liked (and one thing I didn’t!) about The Hate U Give
1. It’s accessible for all ages.
This book is something of a legend to me: it’s a Young Adult fiction novel that deals with race, police brutality, educational disparities, and racism. It’s a testament to the new type of YA: one that deals with the issues that teens today actually face. It’s grounded in reality, but it still retains the youthful and fun aspects of a YA novel.
All that compounded with the fact that it’s well written. Starr’s voice as the protagonist is realistic, grounded, and easy to read since she’s so engaging. Well done Angie Thomas!
NOTE: yes, there’s lots of swears, and I know there are people who think that teens shouldn’t read this book because of it. BUT here’s a fun secret: Teens know swears. They even use them. Furthermore, I disagree that we should denote a book because of language. If we encourage students to read The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Beloved, and To Kill a Mockingbird in classrooms, why punish Hate U Give?
2. It leans into uncomfortable topics.
If this book or this topic makes you uncomfortable, then it did its job. Especially in the United States, there is a tendency to avoid or deter conversations about race and racism entirely. I really liked that this novel leaned into a discussion about racism in the modern era. The entire storyline regarding Hailey was a necessary and (in my limited experience) fairly realistic depiction of modern racism, if a little underdeveloped.
3. It promotes black history and artists.
The Hate U Give is BRIMMING with references of the Black Panther Party, the Civil Rights Movement, Tupac, and other black historical figures/artists. I learned so much from The Hate U Give- I HIGHLY suggest listening and reading the material referenced in this novel.
4. It has pretty uneven pacing and focus.
So this was the one of the few critiques I could find for this novel. I wanted this book to spend more time on the Grand Jury and legal processes of the trial. We only get 1 1/2 pages of Starr’s actual interview! We also don’t see much about how Starr was treated by lawyers or how she speaks out about Khalil via the tumblr she creates. We spent a lot of time talking about sneakers, video games, and other filler that may be present in the life of a teen but did not move the plot forward. While I appreciated the diversion since the novel’s themes are very heavy, it was a little too much fluff.