Thu. Oct 21st, 2021
The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Series: The Hate U Give #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
First Published: February 28, 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Pages: 464
Format: Hardcover
Source: Purchased


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

My Thoughts

WOW. I’ve seen so much talk about this book and I was fearful that it wouldn’t live up to the hype but how wrong I was to worry. The Hate U Give is absolutely astounding and is one of the best debut novels I’ve read in a long time. This is such a great book about the teen experience in America and covers an extremely wide range of topics – the black lives matter movement, police brutality, racism, activism, gang violence, drug abuse, interracial dating, consent, infidelity, relationship violence, blended families, the duality between the hood and suburban life, the list goes on and on.

The story starts with Starr witnessing the shooting of a childhood friend, Khalil, who was a drug dealer and a little bit of a THUG. The book challenges the reader’s perception of the “thugs” that we hear about every day in the media and reminds us that most are unarmed victims in these police shootings. It was startlingly honest about the way in which gangs can be so pervasive in disenfranchised communities, and how often young men just trying to survive find themselves trapped time and time again with little choice if they want to keep food on the table.

“I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve Tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.”

Many of the characters in the book are morally grey, most were simply good people who maybe do some very bad things. Here’s the thing though, just because a person does some bad things, does that mean they’re all bad, rotten to the core? Does that mean that their lives matter any less than anyone else’s? Is there hope for redemption, for an escape from the suffocating grasp of a society that has turned its back on the young people that need understanding and help the most? This is the crux of the dialogue that The Hate U Give brings to the table and it is unflinching in its honesty.

I also appreciated that the book recognized that there is still a great deal of prejudice against interracial relationships. People from the Garden pass judgment on Starr for having a white boyfriend, and his whiteness is brought up often. Starr feels the need to hide her relationship with him to avoid stepping on toes and it is so incredibly true to life and really showed that racism is a complex and multi-layered beast.

I loved The Hate U Give, it is both hopeful and heartbreaking and I haven’t sobbed so much reading a book in a long time. If you haven’t read the book yet I strongly urge you to do so, it is a timely story about the racial tension that still seethes under the surface in a post-civil rights America.

Warnings: violence, racism, domestic abuse

About Angie Thomas

Angie Thomas was born, raised, and still resides in Jackson, Mississippi as indicated by her accent. She is a former teen rapper whose greatest accomplishment was an article about her in Right-On Magazine with a picture included. She holds a BFA in Creative Writing from Belhaven University and an unofficial degree in Hip Hop. She can also still rap if needed. She is an inaugural winner of the Walter Dean Myers Grant 2015, awarded by We Need Diverse Books. Her award-winning, acclaimed debut novel, The Hate U Give, is a #1 New York Times bestseller and major motion picture from Fox 2000, starring Amandla Stenberg and directed by George Tillman, Jr. Her second novel, On the Come Up, is on sale now.

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