Rating: 5 / 5
Angie Thomas’s The Hate U Give is the story of a young woman learning to use her voice to speak out about violence against and oppression of the Black community after watching her best friend die at the hands of a scared cop.
Starr Carter is a conflicted young woman; she lives in Garden Heights, a predominantly Black and low-income neighborhood, but goes to school at Williamson Prep in an affluent white neighborhood. She can’t be her total self at school or home, for fear of being labelled the “ghetto Black girl” among her rich white friends and the traitor among her Garden Heights friends. She’s too Black at Williamson Prep and too white-washed and out of touch in Garden Heights.
When Starr and her childhood best friend, Khalil, are driving home from a party, they’re pulled over for a “routine” traffic stop. Like so many young Black men before him, Khalil is shot and killed by the officer – armed with only a hairbrush that the cop believed was a gun.
Starr must decide how loudly she will use her voice to speak out for Khalil and for her community, one that is riddled with the same issues as many other low-income neighborhoods – gangs, drugs, and violence. She must decide how to deal with ignorant and racist classmates who don’t understand her or her community’s struggles.
How much does where you’re from influence who you are and where your loyalties lie? Starr and her family will ponder this and many other important questions as they fight to bring justice to Khalil and Garden Heights.
Please take caution while reading The Hate U Give if any of the following topics may trigger you:
- Child abuse
- Death / dying
The Hate U Give is a book geared toward young adults, which I’m always wary of – after all, they aren’t written for me. But I don’t care who this was written for, it was absolutely amazing. It reminded me of Jodi Picoult’s Small Great Things, but actually written by a Black woman – a.ka. a more holistic depiction of the issues unique to the Black community.
So many aspects of this novel blew me away. From the honest discussions about race and oppression among Black and white characters to the realistic depictions of the justice system in cases involving a police officer, I
continually cycled through emotions of awe, joy, and anger.
Few other depictions of the Black community that I’ve come across have dedicated so much time to Black joy. The Carter family is so happy, and Thomas allows for interludes in the fight for justice to show that. They go out to dinner, have parties, watch basketball games together. This representation of a Black family as genuinely happy, rather than exclusively as a troupe for depicting racial inequality and oppression, is so important and perfectly balances out the serious nature of the rest of the plot.
Further, Starr and her father – a retired drug dealer and gangbanger and convicted felon (who by the way is a wonderful role model to his children and a star of this novel) – have a discussion about systematic oppression that knocks my damn socks off. Thomas is able to perfectly describe this concept to her audience, and I will carry this piece of the novel with me for a long time.
There are so many important takeaways from The Hate U Give, and I won’t list all of them, but just know that you will absolutely learn and grow from having read this novel. It is exceptional and unique – written by and for the Black community, but is able to teach outsiders so much about their experiences and struggles. I highly recommend this astounding young adult novel.
Thank you so much for reading my thoughts on The Hate U Give! I’d love to hear your thoughts on the novel in the comments or at my Instagram, @bookmarkedbya.