Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: February 28th, 2017
Page Count: 464 (Hardcover)
From the Jacket:
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.
The Hate U Give is a story pulled straight from our headlines. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, but about so much more than a movement. This is a story about black lives. Angie Thomas is mind-blowingly talented. She writes characters full of life, so real I felt I was right there with them, living in the story. I laughed with them, cried with them, felt rage and fear and confusion with them. I love Starr and her brothers and her mom and dad. I love her uncle and her nana and her friends and boyfriend. I finished this book several days ago but have yet to stop thinking about it.
In the opening chapters, Starr is with her best friend from childhood driving home after a party when they are pulled over for a broken tail light. From a young age, Starr has been taught what to do if she’s ever pulled over. Her father tells her, “Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.” She knows these things and says them to herself like a mantra. Her friend Khalil doesn’t follow this advice and things get heated. After he’s pulled violently from the car, he is eventually shot and killed right in front of Starr. He is unarmed.
I knew what this book was about going into it, but the tragedy and the horror of this scene left me raw. All of this happens by the end of the second chapter and we spend the rest of the book following Starr’s journey as the sole witness of her friend’s murder. We follow her, and through her grief, we watch her find herself and her voice. Through no fault of her own, she becomes the voice of an entire movement as she desperately tries to find justice for her friend.
One of the things I loved the most about this book, was the juxtaposition between the media coverage and reality. For every sensationalized headline and interview describing Khalil as a thug and a drug dealer, and the cop as a victim afraid for his life, we hear the truths about Khalil told by those who know him best. We get a window into the other side, and it makes you see how easily distorted the facts become.
In the midst of all of this tragedy, Thomas writes about a community coming together to support each other. Starr’s family and friends rally around her and around each other. I love how close she is with her parents. The relationship they have is truly beautiful and inspiring. She goes to them for support and they provide it along with unconditional love and beautiful bits of advice about life. The relationship her parents have with each other is so sweet I found myself grinning like an idiot whenever I read their exchanges. And despite the sadness, there were so many times when I laughed out loud. I cannot gush enough about Thomas’ writing. It is so accessible and has the power to touch so many lives.
Final Thoughts: This book should be required reading for everyone. It is an important story no doubt, but it’s also a beautiful story about life, love, family, sacrifice, honor, and grief. This is a story that deserves to be told. I so hope that you read it.
Favorite Characters: Starr, Mr. Carter, Mrs. Carter, Chris
At an early age I learned that people make mistakes, and you have to decide if their mistakes are bigger than your love for them.
That’s the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?
I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve Tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.
Daddy once told me there’s a rage passed down to every black man from his ancestors, born the moment they couldn’t stop the slave masters from hurting their families. Daddy also said there’s nothing more dangerous than when that rage is activated.