Surprisingly, this is my first book review! I finished reading the novel The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas this weekend, and I just had to write a review for it. This is such a good book and there’s so much to unpack, but I’m really just going to scratch the surface for this review.
The Hate U Give is about a 16 year old black girl named Starr Carter who lives in a poor, rough neighborhood called Garden Heights, but goes to school in a rich, predominantly white area. Outside of feeling like an outcast at her school and the drama in her personal relationships, her life is turned completely upside down when she witnesses a police shooting that takes the life of her childhood friend Khalil.
I quickly added this book to my TBR after I heard about the movie adaptation being made, starring Amandla Stenberg, Regina Hall, Anthony Mackie, Common, Issa Rae, and K.J. Apa. What an amazing cast, right? But what really drew me in was the story — a YA novel that seemed way more real than most of what is in the YA section these days (and that’s not a dig, I love YA).
This book comes at just the right time, when racial tensions are high and senseless killings at the hands of police are unfortunately so common in the US. It takes serious topics like police brutality, gun violence, gangs, and racism, and packages them up in a story that’s easy to digest. It doesn’t take itself too seriously, and it’s one big learning experience, rather than a lecture.
In the beginning of the book we are begrudgingly right there with Starr when her friend Khalil is killed, and even though we know it’s coming, it’s still so shocking and it feels so abrupt, exactly the way it should. I cannot even describe the way this moment felt. It was so tough to read. After that, Starr is understandably traumatized and afraid to speak out about what she saw. Throughout the rest of the book, Starr struggles with speaking and living her truth in different ways.
I just love stories like this, because I love to explore how different people react to certain situations. There are characters with very different perspectives, just dealing with this the best way they know how — which may or may not be the right way. This is a harrowing story that’s about life and death and the relationships between these characters, as well as Starr’s journey to truth and bravery. And it even goes so far in depth as to shed some light on the thought process behind what drives people to make the choices that they do, and how one choice can change your entire life.
Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right. Click to tweet
The way Angie Thomas tells the story makes you feel like you are right there, experiencing all these things with Starr — the pain, guilt, anger, and fear feels so real. I loved this writing style, it was almost like reading Starr’s diary. The commentary and even the jokes that she may not have said in the moment really put me inside her mind. There were very some slow parts in the first half of the book that felt a little drawn out and made me wish it was a little more condensed, but in the end I didn’t mind it because I loved the way the story was told overall.
Although the main topics are very dark, Angie Thomas is able to tell a story takes you on the journey and breaks it down to you, without dragging you through it. There are plenty of light moments in the story, including a little bit of romance — which I absolutely adored.
I think this is a story that everyone, especially black young adults, should read. Angie Thomas doesn’t sugar coat anything in this book, so certain things in it might make some people uncomfortable. But honestly, this is probably meant to be an uncomfortable story because these are uncomfortable subjects. Although it’s fiction, I really think everyone could learn something from it.
Let’s just hope the movie is able to capture all of the emotions felt when reading this book and display them beautifully on screen.