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 by Angie Thomas gives a voice to people who may never have had the chance to speak up. This heartbreaking, educational tale shines a light on political and racial topics that still engulf many parts of world today.
While the book explores a range of issues including gang violence, racial abuse, poverty and corruption, it also deals with teen drama and first loves. It shows that even in the darkest times, there can be humour and lighthearted moments when surrounded by loved ones.
The story is narrated by Starr Carter, 16, who witnesses a lifelong friend get murdered by a police officer. Even though she is afraid, she has the opportunity to use her voice, for her friend and others in her community who were dealt the same cards, with the hope of getting justice. As the author writes; “Your voices matter, your dreams matter, your lives matter. Be the roses that grow in the concrete”.
She lives in Garden Heights, a fictional neighbourhood in America, which is the home to mainly poor, black Americans. Through her writing, Thomas demonstrates the extreme yet, heart-rendering measures some people take as a result of being treated differently because of their skin colour. While some choose to protest peacefully, others show their frustration with the use of violence, which becomes a common occurrence.
Starr attends a private school outside of her hometown, due to her mother’s successful career, but separates her two worlds. Her loving ex-con of a dad is unaware that she is dating a white boy and none of her friends visit her home either. Starr is a kind and feisty character yet, can be hypocritical at times because she does, to an extent, come across as being embarrassed by her background. By giving the characters flaws, just like any other teenager would have, it makes the story and writing far more realistic.
There are a range of different characters in this book, from the racist white “friend” that takes the term school bully to a whole new level, to Starr’s siblings and chosen family joining together to help each other during tough times.
This is not a young adult novel that should be ignored. It is something that will be remembered in moments of change as the author gives the reader an extraordinary insight into the reality of police brutality towards the black community. The movement, Black Lives Matter, is a prominent part of the story and should continue to be of importance every day in the world we live in.
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