#IMWAYR (3/30/2020): The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

For #IMWAYR, I am recommending The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.

A word of caution to any young readers: this book is a YA (young adult) novel, not an MG (middle grade) novel and contains some mature content.




          Quite frankly, this book barely needs my recommendation, considering that it was probably the most-discussed, most-read, and most-important book of 2017 (also quite frankly, I'm unsure how it took me 3 years to start this book—I still feel like it just came out!). Regardless, I'm still reviewing it. ;)
          The Hate U Give revolves around Starr Carter, a high school student who spends her life divided between two worlds, so to speak. She and her family live in Garden Heights, a predominantly-black neighborhood that is home to gangs and drug dealers but is also a closely-knit community of neighbors who help each other (certainly something largely absent from today's society). However, Starr attends school at Williamson Prep, a predominantly-white private school where her friends and boyfriend, Chris (who is white) attend but where Starr also works constantly to fit in and never be seen, essentially, as "too black." Starr's life is complex but manageable, until, on the way home from a party with a black childhood friend named Khalil, a police officer pulls them over and shoots and kills Khalil. As Khalil's death becomes national news and sparks further racism and protests, Starr has to decide, in the midst of mourning her friend, whether to stay quiet and grieve or to speak up, change the world, and deal with the fallout.
        The first thing I want to say about The Hate U Give is how skillfully and realistically it depicts Khalil's death and the results both for Starr and for society. Khalil's death is an "onscreen event," so to speak, allowing readers to see not just how unjust Khalil's death is, but also how traumatizing it is to Starr. The Hate U Give made me realize how cruel it is that witnesses of such brutality are forced, in a period of trauma and mourning, to testify about and discuss the brutality, all while facing attackers who want to discredit them or imply that the brutality was justified. People in the novel do argue that Khalil's death was justified because he sold drugs, but the novel makes it clear both that people who sell drugs should not automatically be condemned to brutal death (Khalil only did so to help his struggling family) and that the officer who killed Khalil did not even know that Khalil sold drugs. Khalil certainly should not have been killed even if the officer knew he sold drugs, but the officer not knowing makes it clear that Khalil was killed because of racism and that anyone who brought up his past was in the wrong. After Khalil's death, Starr channels her mourning into bravery and fights for the officer to be convicted of a crime, and although no one should have to do such a thing, Starr's determination and strength make her into an incredible protagonist for the story. (I also want to mention that The Hate U Give does not argue that all police officers are racist or evil; Starr's own Uncle Carlos is a police officer, and the book makes sure to show how their close relationship is tested by the events of the story but never breaks.)
          The Hate U Give is well-known for how well it tackles the subject of police brutality, but the book is never one-note. Starr and all of the other characters in the novel are just people living in an unfortunate time, and they all still have lives to live. After Khalil's death, Starr's relationship with her boyfriend Chris is tested; at times, Starr feels like a traitor for dating a white person. Starr also deals with racism at her school, including from one of her close friends. Many aspects of Starr's life in Garden Heights are also vividly depicted and explored, from her time working in her father's local grocery store to her friendships with characters such as Kenya (whose half-brother, Seven, is also Starr's half-brother and whose father runs a local gang) and DeVante (who is on the run from a gang he was once part of and is assisted by Starr's father, Maverick). Starr's parents, Maverick and Lisa, play vital roles in the story as well, from supporting their daughter through an extraordinarily trying time to debating whether or not their family is still safe in Garden Heights (despite Maverick's hope of improving their community).
          One blurb on the back of my copy of The Hate U Give, from author Becky Albertalli (whose books I love), reads in part, "Everyone should read this book." People say this about every book, but it is true for The Hate U Give. The Hate U Give is an essential read for anyone who wants to understand the issue of police brutality (which should be everyone), and, with its varied plot and developed characters, it is a unique, enjoyable, and memorable read as well. If you haven't read this book, do so immediately!

Update (1/2/2021): My rating is: Stunning!



Comments

  1. Yes! I have read this book (back in 2017, but I still remember a lot of it!) and I also loved it. It's so real and really brings racism to the forefront. I loved that her uncle is a policeman so you get to see a sympathetic officer, as well as the racist one who killed Khalil. Best book ever! I wish everyone would read it, especially white people who don't have a clue what it's like to be African-American.

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  2. It is a beautiful & poignant story, one I loved. Like Joanne above, I wish everyone would read it, too. Thanks, & best wishes this hard time to you & your family!

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    1. I'm glad you enjoyed the book! Thanks for your wishes—good luck as well to you and your family!

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  3. This was a great book, your post is a reminder as my oldest goes to high school next year, I will consider when to hand her this book. Thanks for the post!

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  4. I too loved this book. I just finished On the Come by her. It's as good, but in a different way. She sure can write!

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    1. She definitely can! I'll have to try her other book—thanks!

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  5. Did you see that Concrete Rose is coming out? It is about Starr's dad!

    Happy reading this week :)

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    1. I did not—that is so exciting! Basically every book I've read lately has an exciting sequel coming out! Thanks for telling me!

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  6. I raced through this book as well. And I want to read On the Come Up as soon as I get the chance.

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  7. I remember really liking The Hate U Give. I listened to On The Come Up and felt it was good, but it didn't grab me as much as THUG. And now I'm looking forward to Concrete Rose. Thanks for sharing!

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