Review: The Hate U Give (*****)
My aim for 2017 is to review all the books I read. However, since I am already behind quite a bit, I am starting with a recently finished book: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. A young adult novel about police violence and the ‘Black Lives Matter’ movement in the United States of America, I thought it would fit nicely with my aim to read more about and written by people of color.
‘The Hate U Give’ is the story of sixteen-year-old Starr who lives in two worlds. During the day she goes to a posh high school in the suburbs where there is only one other black student. She plays basketball with her friends who, after school, return to their gated communities. Starr on the other end returns to the poor, black neighborhood where she lives with her parents and two brothers. Her father used to be a drug dealer, but after spending three years in jail when Starr was just born, he cleaned up his life and now runs the neighborhood store. Her two lives ask for two different versions of Starr and the only one she feels ‘herself’ with is her white boyfriend Chris. When Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her best friend by a police officer, the balance between her two worlds starts to falter and Starr has to decide what she is going to do.
I had high expectations of this book after seeing all the praise online and it did not disappoint. Having read some, but not a lot, about the Black Lives Matter movement this book was incredibly insightful, especially told from such a personal perspective. The story of Starr captivates from the start. The moment of Khalil’s shooting is horrible and the fallout of the shooting of another unarmed black teen is intriguing. What worked especially well for me, as a white woman, was not just living this tale from the perspective of a black girl in a black neighborhood, but her experience with her white friends and the way they deal with this. It shows how the portrayal of the media and the continuous villainizing of black people infects the minds of people. I try to be aware of this anyway, but reading this story was nonetheless another eye opener. The only critique I could think of was the ‘everybody is happy in the end’ sort of ending that Young Adult novels usually have, but considering it is a Young Adult book I don’t see it as a problem. It just means I am truly no longer a Young Adult (sad times).
Overall I would highly recommend this book. Whether you want to learn more about the impact on a community by an event like this, the role of the Black Lives Matter movement or you just want to read a good book.