19 June, 2018

[Review] The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Series: Stand-Alone
Release Date: 28 February, 2017
Publisher: HarperCollins
Genre: Young Adult Fiction/Emotions & Feelings/Social & Family Issues /Prejudice & Racism/Violence
ISBN: 9780062498533
Edition: Audiobook
Rating: ★★★★★
Review Written: 16 June, 2018
Summary: Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Angie Thomas’s searing debut about an ordinary girl in extraordinary circumstances addresses issues of racism and police violence with intelligence, heart, and unflinching honesty. Soon to be a major motion picture from Fox 2000/Temple Hill Productions.

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.

See more by Angie Thomas at her Website.

Trigger Warnings: Police Brutality, Murder, Graphic Violence

Sixteen year old Starr Williams is at a party she shouldn’t be anywhere near. A party in her neighborhood of Garden Heights where gang wars are common and often lead to death. Attending at the request of her friend Kenya, Starr ends up reuniting with a former best friend, Khalil. As the pair start to catch up, a fight breaks out in the party, leaving one person dead and many of the party-goers scattering to the wind. Khalil manages to pull Starr out of the party and the pair set off in his car. Before they can decide on where Khalil will drop her off, the pair are pulled over by a police officer.

Khalil, while slightly argumentative with the cop, does eventually comply, he asks the valid question of why they were pulled over. After being told it’s because of a broken taillight, Khalil is ordered from the car and pulled out when he doesn’t move fast enough. After being patted down three times in search of drugs, Khalil is ordered to remain by the car while the officer runs his license and registration. Khalil however, worried about Starr, opens the door and asks her if she’s okay. Before he can finish his question though, the officer shoots him multiple times in the back, ultimately killing him. To add insult to injury, the officer points his gun at Starr too when she reacts and gets out of the car to comfort Khalil in his final moments.

Starr’s life is turned upside down by this night, and repressed memories of the death of Natasha, her other best friend return full force. While in the midst of trying to decide if she should talk to the cops and trying to keep her identity on the down-low about being the only witness to Khalil’s murder, Starr’s confronted with her two worlds continuing to collide. After the death of Natasha, Starr’s parents sent her and her brothers to a fancy suburban preschool that generally hosts children of families with a fair amount of money. Starr struggles to keep it a secret that she was there while trying to find normal again.

The book continues to push the boundaries of race and privilege. Starr is constantly at war with herself about how much to share to her friends and boyfriend from Williamson and how much to protect. Considering Hailey, the ringleader of her Williamson trio, unfollowed her Tumblr page after Starr reblogged a photo of Emmett Till, Starr isn’t certain which Starr to be. In the end, Starr lets go of her friendship with Hailey after it comes to light at how set in her views Hailey is. She does retain Maya, a Chinese-American girl who eventually stands up to Hailey about a joke from their Freshman year.

Thomas does a good job bringing to light the injustice of the current legal system. The system is stacked against many people, a majority of them African American and other People of Color. As Starr discovered, sometimes you can do everything right but still not win against the system. You just need to keep doing right. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read, if only to challenge your own beliefs. I found myself challenged many times at the frustration and heartbreak of Starr, and realizing that at times in my life I might have been like Hailey. I have pushed myself to be a better person and I think that’s all we can do. That and keep pushing against the injustice until it’s fixed.

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