Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer and Bray/Harperteen
Publication Date: February 28, 2017
Synopsis from Goodreads:
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.
The Hate U Give is an absolutely heart wrenching story about Starr, a sixteen-year-old girl who witnesses the killing of a lifelong friend of hers at the hands of a police office. Starr is the only witness to this devastating act, but she struggles with whether or not she should speak out. She wants her family to be kept safe, as her parents want her to be kept safe as well. Her statement would spark much controversy and could be a catalyst for (potentially negative) change in her neighbourhood and across the country.
Starr is also a young girl, still trying to know herself–who she is and where she fits in in the world. She lives an impoverished, predominantly black neighbourhood, but she attends school in an upperclass, predominantly white private school. She has friends of both races, but she finds herself pretending to be someone she is not while at school, even to her close friends and boyfriend. As the tragedy unfolds around her, Starr begins to confront who she is and who she really wants to be, even if that means losing a few people that she thought meant a lot to her.
This story addresses issues of race, conflict, police shootings, gang wars, friendship, family, love, and so much more. Each page is heavy with thought-provoking prose and intense commentary on some of the terrible crimes that are committed in our world. Thomas opens the doors for dialogue with young readers to talk about how young people especially can find a voice and take a stand against the wrong doings in our world. Starr is an excellent role model as she gains confidence and finds the words to express the crimes committed against her friend, her community, and even herself. She is able to vocalize her fear, her anger, her sadness, in a way that calls for change and a desire for things to be different.
Thomas is an excellent writer, creating a story that is both tragic and beautiful. Her prose comes to life in these pages, creating a world that is incredibly real, that parallels our own. It is honest, open, raw, and so many other incredible things. It addresses very real problems in our own world and asks readers to consider their own positions and to reflect on how we can all act to make this world a better place. It is accessible and truthful and overall, just a beautiful book.