The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
***** 5 Plus Cranky Stars *****
This is the easiest five stars I've ever handed out. In fact, this is one of the few books that I'd give more stars to if I could. It's also going to be one of the hardest reviews to write without giving away any spoilers. You don't want to be spoiled on this book. I actually wish I hadn't read it, so I could discover it brand new again.
As a reviewer who often reads hyped books and is disappointed - this is not the case with The Hate U Give. I believe, like others, that this is going to be a modern classic and should be on school curricula for years to come.
The Hate U Give centers around sixteen year old Starr Carter. She moves between two worlds - the poor neighborhood she lives in and the suburban prep school she attends. Her life has been about balancing these two worlds and compromising parts of herself to negotiate the environs she inhabit.
All of that changes when she witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood friend, Kahlil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was a teen. He was unarmed and he didn't do anything wrong.
In the aftermath, questions about that night are in everyone's minds. Khalil becomes a hashtag, a national headline and the media smear his character.
Protestors take to the streets for justice. Starr and her family are intimidated by both the cops and local drug lords. At a personal level, the two worlds Starr negotiates collapse into one another.
Traumatized and riddle with guilt, Starr must find a way to come to grips with who she is and find justice for Khalil against the very institutions that took his life so easily.
This is a timely book and the sociopolitical importance of the Hate U Give cannot be underestimated, but it's more than that. It's a really good book. It's accessible and has the rare ability to break your heart, warm it and make you laugh out loud.
I absolutely loved Starr and her family - who crosses both sides of the divide. Starr's dad is an activist. Her Uncle is a Police Officer and her mother wants safety and opportunity for her children.
Many current threads and debates run concurrent to the larger arc of this story (justice for Khalil), exploring micro aggressions, such as casual and overt racism as well as macro aggressions - how authority (not to mention other apparatuses, such as the media) picks and chooses how they interact with people.
Quite often, I find these dangling plot threads in other works can be distracting. Not so in The Hate U Give. They added a nuanced, multi-layered depth that made me sit back and think.
Before urging everyone to read this book, I'd like to make a couple of ancillary comments.
1) Hailey - I disliked her at the start, loathed her in the middle, and pitied her by the end. Unapologetic, self-righteous and cloistered privilege is tiresome.
2) Maverick's Harry Potter theory. I laughed so loud I scared the dog. Golden!
3) Nana - you are my role model for old age.
4) I wanted to hang out with Starr and her family. 90's music and philosophy = the best sort of times.
This book is highly recommended and is easily one of the best books I've ever read. I now have a massive book hangover from it, but like most hangovers - it was worth it.
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