“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.” The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzar and Bray
Type: Young Adult
Rating: 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸 out of 🌸🌸🌸🌸🌸
Starr Carter is sixteen and trying to navigate two different worlds. In one she comes from a poor black neighborhood where gangs rule the street and people are afraid to speak out against them. In the other world, Starr is a student at a predominately white prep school in the suburbs. As Starr walks the line of these two worlds, that line becomes blurred when Starr witnesses the shooting of one of her childhood best friends, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer. The catch though, Khalil is unarmed.
Struck with fear of speaking about what really happen out of fear about police retaliation against her family, as well as fear of what her friends at school will say if they find out, Starr has to work to not only overcome the horror of that night but to also find her voice if she hopes for any kind of justice to be brought about. As racism starts to rear its ugly head at school, Starr’s neighborhood goes from protests to full on riots in a matter of moments.
I will be the first to admit that I did not have anywhere near the same kind of upbringing as Starr. Where Starr comes from a poor black neighborhood and her father is a former convict; my father was an officer in the US Air Force and we were considered upper middle class. Despite these differences in our upbringing, I could relate to Starr in other ways. As an African-American young woman, I was able to empathize with Starr when she was questioned about having a white boyfriend and if it was because she thought she was too good for the black guys. I know what it’s like to get looks from those around me when I’m seen holding hands with a white boyfriend. I know how it feels to have other African-Americans try to put you down for wanting to get good grades, go on to college and succeed in life.
Angie Thomas’s debut novel is a timely and poignant novel that takes a close look at what its like to witness a police shooting and feeling powerless and afraid to do anything. The day I finished reading this was the same day that the jury decided to acquit the police officer of all charges in the shooting and death of Philando Castile. I’m sad and sorry to say that I was not at all surprised that the jury chose not to convict the police officer. As is discussed in the book, it seems like anymore, anytime a black man is shot and killed by a police officer, that they’re not going to be charged. That’s a horrible thing to think and believe, but that continues to be the case.
Just as Starr believes that one day things will get better, I too believe that. But, it’s going to take hard work and diligence. It’s going to take continuing the dialogue and working together to find solutions. The Hate U Give serves as a wonderful way to open up that dialogue. It’s the kind of book that can bring wonderful discussions to mixed race book clubs and even to high school and college English and literature classes.