Odds are that if you’ve been paying attention to new releases this year, you have heard the buzz around The Hate U Give. A black community is shaken to its core after a white police officer shoots and kills one of the community’s own: a boy, Khalil, who was unarmed and innocent. The only other witness was our narrator, Starr. Throughout the book she takes you through the events following Khalil’s shooting, the aftermath that shook both her and me as the reader. Starr navigates her emotional struggle all while balancing life between her private school, located in the affluent neighborhood where she is one of three black students, and her gang-run primarily black neighborhood, where she lives. Starr feels torn between stepping up and shutting up, and takes you through her journey of discovering how one voice can make a change.
'Who said talking isn't doing something?' she says. 'It's more productive than silence. Remember what I told you about your voice?'
Thomas creates authentic characters and relationships that do not turn into caricatures of people we may know in reality. The dialogue is realistic, the situations feel real, and you find yourself rooting for Starr to use her voice as she discovers how she can be an agent of change. Thomas isn’t too heavy-handed in her underlying message, which stems from the Black Lives Matter movement. You grow to care about the characters so much that no matter what your background, you find yourself invested in the story.
I wish there was a way for me to make this review lighter, but this is a book, at its heart, that captures much of the conversation happening today and asks you to take a good hard look at how we treat authority figures in this country. There are more than just the shooting and racial discussions, which makes this book hit you so hard.
It’s about relationships between friends and family.
It’s about teenage emotions and decisions.
It’s about sharing the idea that anyone, anyone, regardless of age, race, gender, or nationality, can make a difference.
It’s about using your voice.
I hope you pick up this book (or borrow it from me because this is one I’m keeping on my shelves), and let me know what you think. It’s a conversation I’d love to have.
TL/DR: The Hate U Give will break you, warm you, and fire you up, all at the same time.
Rating: 5/5 stars
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