Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published February 2017
Balzer & Bray/Harperteen
Starr witnesses the police shooting death of her childhood best friend, Khalil.
The Hate U Give broke my heart from the beginning and deserves every one of its five stars.
Starr is a teen girl caught between worlds with huge economic and cultural disparities.
One one side, she and her family live in a neighborhood where drive-by shootings are not uncommon. Itâ€™s a step up from the projects where she lived as a younger child.
She sees several childhood friends turning to gangs or drug dealing. Her half-brotherâ€™s mom is a sometime prostitute, living with an abusive gang leader. Her own dad, while an excellent parent, was absent for several years while he served time in jail.
On the other side, she attends an exclusive private high school with rich kids. Her uncle is a respected police detective, married to a doctor. She frequently stays the night at their posh house in their posh neighborhood. Her boyfriend is white.
Up to the time we meet her, sheâ€™s done an excellent job compartmentalizing her life.
There are two Starrs: street Starr and school Starr.
Sheâ€™s kept those identities separate. But then, one night a policeman shoots her childhood friend Khalil in front of her. Those identities canâ€™t remain hidden from one another any longer.
The upside to Starrâ€™s dual identity is that we get to see both sides of a sensitive subject. A trigger-happy bad cop shoots Khalil, but we also see a good cop in her uncle. She has a closed-minded rich friend who carelessly deals out racial slurs, but she also has a nice rich friend who defends her.
We see the bad in some people, but we also see the incredible amount of good in others she had underestimated. Starrâ€™s identities are both worth knowing and loving.
For some time, I kept waiting for Starr to be the unifying voice of peace and reason. But then I wondered, why? Sheâ€™s the victim of something horrible that keeps getting worse. Doesnâ€™t she have a right to get angry?
I often mention books that, though fictional, are relevant to our current place in history and have a societal context. This book is an important entry to that, giving a human face to a movement.
Donâ€™t be fooled by the fact that The Hate U Give is YA. It packs an adult-sized punch.