Book #81

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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.

There’s so much in this novel I’m unfit to comment on. I will never experience half of the things these characters experience, and yet I think it’s more important to read books like this than those we can relate to.

Thomas introduces us to Starr, sixteen years old and struggling with her own identity. Living in a poor, black neighbourhood but attending an overly white private school, she’s found herself in a position where she doesn’t want her two worlds to collide. When her best friend Khalil, unarmed and innocent, is killed by a policeman, both of her worlds are thrown into turmoil, and Starr’s next moves will truly determine her future.

I love what Thomas has done with all of her characters. We’re allowed to venture deep into each of their mindsets, see their stories and motivations, and ultimately fall in love with them. The troubles, the heartbreak, the joys and the mundane; we see it all, and my heart was sore with conflicting emotion throughout the entire narrative.

We see these stories on the news and we think about how sad it all is. When it happens again, we think how sad it all is. But to be allowed a view into the lives of those affected, to hear something which isn’t a news report, but an in depth story of people and their lives, is a gift. Despite this story being fictional, it’s a similar account of something which has happened to too many people and their families, including our author.

This novel should be read again and again, the true stories should be told again and again, and somehow, in some way, change must happen.