Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzar + Bray/Harper Collins
Series: Stand Alone
Published: February 28th 2017
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.
First of all, if you have never heard of this book where have you been? Being the one of the most anticipated books for me, and I assume a lot more people, I can certainly see why it has gained so much popularity as it’s such an amazing book! In addition to this, it is extremely refreshing and fantastic to have a diverse book which raises awareness for serious matters occurring in the world to be so popular, and I love knowing that people are more conscious of racism and the hate people get just for being another skin colour. I personally think racism as a whole is the most ridiculous thing to ever exist, I really don’ understand. You wouldnt find someone getting ridiculed for wearing a different colour shirt to another person, so why ridicule them for having a different colour skin? I hate it.
Anyhow, enough of me ranting let’s get onto why we are all here – the fantastic book which is The Hate U Give! I hate to admit it, but I’ve never really been a person to read a lot of diverse books (please don’t hate me) but I must say that this book has certainly opened my eyes to all new possibilities. Starr is a 16-year-old who lives in two different worlds, one is Garden Heights – the poor, gang associated neighbourhood where she was born and still lives with her parents and siblings. The other is Williamson Prep – the posh, suburban high school, home to mostly white people and Starr and her brother. There she has separate friends and a white boyfriend. She keeps each life separate from the other, altering her personality to suit wherever she may be.
Keeping the two separate lives is not only exhausting for Starr but it is also necessary in the eyes of Starr. She believes that if she ever intertwined the two people would see her differently, for example if she acted like a ‘stereotypical black girl’ then that is all that people would see her as and would constantly make preconceptions about her behaviour and judge her for the colour of her skin. No matter where she is, she doesn’t really feel like she belongs.
The main events of the story shortly begin after Starr and her long-lost childhood friend Khalil are driving home from a house party then ended up with gun shots. This is when they are pulled over by a white police officer who (like many people in today’s society) instantly judges them and makes preconceptions based on their skin colour, ultimately resulting in the police officer murders Khalil right in front of Starr for no reason whatsoever. His death quickly becomes national news and sparks outrage, especially in Garden Heights, where trouble soon starts to develop involving gangs from the area and people who want justice for Khalil. However, the prejudiced assumptions don’t end at Khalil being murdered, stories about his life as a ‘thug’ and a ‘drug dealer’ quickly become the official narrative and justification for his death, and an enquiry is soon opened about his death with Starr as the sole witness.
This alone is tragic enough for any 16-year-old girl, but unfortunately this isn’t the first time Starr has seen one of her friends killed right in front of her eyes. When she was 10 her best friend was shot in a drive-by, so from that alone you can already begin to imagine how much pain Starr is in once more.
Despite an eye witness who constantly protests that they were no threat to anyone and they were completely innocent, as you can imagine the enquiry doesn’t go down too well and Starr is caught up right in the middle of it. Events unfold and people’s true colours are shown throughout that doesn’t make the situation easier for anyone and there’s so much pain and hatred surrounding everyone you just want to scoop them all up and swaddle them in a blanket. The Hate U Give is full of hate, sadness and grief but shining through the cracks is also glimmers of hope for a better future, for justice and for people the start standing up for themselves and what is right. Not only does this book convey an exceptional message about race, it also conveys important messages about friendship, family and uniting for the greater good. In a society today which is torn with war and terror from all parts of the world, I think this book is extremely important for teaching younger people the importance of love and respect. Not only is about all of these exceptional factors, it is also about family. Starr’s family has quickly become one of my most loved – her father is an ex-gang member who has chosen to go down a more brighter path in order to make himself a better man, father and role model for the community; her mother is a nurse who despite her busy work schedule always makes time for her family, her number one priority – both of her parents (and Uncle Carlos who is as equally as amazing as her mother, with his big heart and caring attitude) always try and fight for what is right and help those who are beginning to go down the darker route in life. There are so many more relationships that mean so much and contribute to the full message of the book including Starr’s friends from school, her white boyfriend and her siblings.
There is so much more I can say about this book, but I’d rather you take the journey I did and discover it’s many more amazing features for yourself. It will sure affect you more than you could anticipate to and it’s fantastic on so many levels it’s almost hard to put it into words.