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 probably one of the heaviest YA books I’ve read in 2017. It’s also probably one of the best. This book is exactly why we need diverse books written by own voices authors. The perfection of this book epitomizes this on so many levels.
The book is so relevant. It’s educational. It’s pretty much worth all the hype its getting and needs to be to read at some point.
Unfortunately, the premises of Thomas’s debut is one that we’ve seen over and over in the news lately. A young POC will be killed for seemingly no reason in what should’ve been a routine traffic shop or some other should be mundane event. After hearing news story after news story, I literally cringed when I saw how Khalil reacted to the officer in the opening chapter. Like, Starr I wanted to tell him to not say anything to not even blink and…it was too late.
The fact that I had such a strong reaction to a character who probably had only about twenty pages of the book alive says a lot about the writing.
The book handled the fall out of the situation properly focusing both on micro and macro reactions. I liked that we got to see Starr’s reaction and how it affects her family, as well as how it effects her neighborhood too.
I really liked that the neighborhood itself was more or less a character in this story and that Thomas related to all the problems that the neighborhood had to the shooing. I feel like it was very informative in explaining issues that inner city neighborhood’s might face-gang violence, police brutality, amongst them.
The book is heavily character driven. While it deals mostly with the aftermath with Khalil’s death. We not only get the ramifications that his death has on the community, but also on Starr’s life and on her relationships. We get to watch Starr makes terms with who she is, her friends, and her relationship with her boyfriend as well.
I liked that there wasn’t one thing that consumed Starr’s life. Usually, YA falls to the problem of a character having an unbalanced life-i.e. a lot of the time the main character finds herself wrapped up in relationship woes-but here the character has a lot going on. Not only dealing with the aftermath of the shooting, but dealing with interpersonal relationships with friends and family as well.
If I was to point out some flaws, one thing that did bother me was that Starr never saw a therapist. I know this is a nitpick thing but girl had endured a lot, and I wished she had a professional to talk to. There were clearly signs that she had PTSD throughout the book and I just wish that Thomas would’ve explored this a little bit more.
However, over that didn’t detract from the book.
If there’s YA book that’s relevant and as good as the hype its getting this year, it’s The Hate U Give.
Overall Rating: A solid A.