Hi guys! I know I’ve been away for a bit (just resting and taking it easy with my pregnancy!), but I’m back today with a review of The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
This book is definitely going on my top 5 for this year, so it gets a full review, and I hope you guys will pick it up. I hope that so much that I’m giving away a copy! Check out my review and sign up below!The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Find the author: Website, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Instagram, Tumblr
Publisher: Harper Teen
Publication date: February 28th 2017
Source: Chapters Indigo (ARC), Audible.com (Audiobook)
Buy It: Indigo.ca | Amazon.com | The Book Depository | iBooks | Google Books | Audible
Eight Starred Reviews! #1 New York Times Bestseller!
"Absolutely riveting!" —Jason Reynolds
"Stunning." —John Green
"This story is necessary. This story is important." —Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
"Heartbreakingly topical." —Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A marvel of verisimilitude." —Booklist (starred review)
"A powerful, in-your-face novel." —The Horn Book (starred review)
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.
Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
The Hate U Give is probably one of the best and most real, raw and honest portrayals of teen life I’ve read this year. This is a book about a girl dealing with one of the most frustrating things you could ever imagine: the unfair, unjust murder of a best friend. It’s a book that throws open the doors on black culture and family life, and forced me to face my own privilege and ignorance.
Starr Carter is a 16-year old who lives in Garden Heights, a poor black neighbourhood, but attends Williamson Academy, a predominantly white school in a wealthier suburb. She spends her life caught between these two worlds – playing “Ghetto Star” and “Williamson Starr” and trying to figure out which one she really is.
One night, when she’s hanging out at a party with her Garden Heights friends, shots ring out and she and her old pal Khalil Harris leave the party. On their way to her house, they are held up by a white police officer, and even though it’s clear that they did nothing wrong, Khalil is shot dead.
From there, Starr is at first told not to say anything. Very few people know there was a witness, much less that it was Starr. Starr herself is confused as her friends and family mourn and protest and opinions are divided on what happened that night.
The genius of this book is that despite the fact that it’s dealing with something so shocking and painful, it’s not ALL about Khalil’s death. The Hate U Give is as much about Starr trying to figure out her own actions, reactions, and opinions on race, relationships, friends and family as it is about the events of the murder case. There are moments of hilarity and heart (Starr’s parents are amazing and funny and the best), moments of poignant happiness, moments of swoon (Starr’s boyfriend Chris is so cute with her), and moments of anger. The Hate U Give gives you a complete, rounded picture of Starr’s life and community, and it’s just so…beautifully intersectional and honest.
The writing in The Hate U Give is plain and honest, without anything florid. I listened to the audiobook of The Hate U Give, and I felt like it enhanced my experience so much because I could hear all the slang as it was meant to be said. (I’m embarrassed and humbled that I took a look a few times at my physical book and didn’t recognize certain words like “Ay” as “Hey”. Thank goodness the narrator Bahni Turpin set me straight).
Angie Thomas does not hold back in terms of slang or cussing, but not a single word felt out of character. Moreover, everything flowed so smoothly, I felt like I was in the Carter family any time they bantered.
I’m not sure what else I can say about this book other than that it opened my eyes so much to what it means to be a black teenager in America. I know this book isn’t about me – it’s written for black kids who might not see themselves in books that often and I’m glad for that.
I also know it’s not every black teenager’s experience, but I do believe that this is very much an #ownvoices novel. It rang very true to me, and showed me just how much Western society privileges white people and pushes down minorities. I was particularly struck by a certain moment when Starr’s Chinese friend Maya tells her a story about her own encounter with racism – because that same (exact!) thing has happened to me before.
As a Chinese woman, I have had to deal with racism in certain ways. But I do feel like I’m caught somewhere between the everyday, sometimes violent racism Starr witnesses and lives with and white privilege. I grew up in a Canadian, multi-cultural city where I didn’t want for anything. Acknowledging that and recognizing that my ethnicity has not held me back in life, though, I see much more just how imbalanced our society is. The Hate U Give has taught me so much about how to be a better ally, and how to fight with my black friends.
Fresh Prince of Bel-Air: If you haven’t seen it, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air is a 90s show starring a young Will Smith, about a kid who grew up in Philadelphia and gets into some trouble. He moves to LA, to a super-posh neighbourhood where he needs to figure out how to fit in with his aunt and uncle’s “proper” family. Starr and her boyfriend Chris are obsessed with this show. Starr really connects with it because she feels like Will (caught between school and home personas). All the references are such a treat – I spent a lot of my after-school time watching this show when I was a kid & it adds so much to know it. Also, it’s funny!
Family Matters: I cannot say this enough: I love Starr’s family. From Big Mav (her dad) to Linda (her mom) to her Uncle Carlos, to her half-brother Seven to kid brother Sekani…all of them just felt so real to me. Complex and teasing and sometimes hurtful, but also loving and full of respect for one another.
Girl Friendships: A lot of this book is Starr figuring out who her friends really are – who has her back, who is making her a better person. And sometimes, because of that, she runs into racism, but sometimes it’s also about recognizing how she can be a better friend. It’s the intersection of all of those things that made the girl friendships work for me in this book.
Boys Who Like Strong Women: All the (good) dudes in this book are in relationships with women TOTALLY love them for their strength. It’s so refreshing to NOT see abusive or dominating males who don’t listen to women. My fave was Chris, Starr’s white boyfriend who really loves her for her (and seriously, they are SO cute together). But Seven’s girlfriend, Starr’s aunt, and her mom Linda are all super fierce. It’s just great to see how much the guys in this book care about and treat them right.
Book Theme Song:
Obviously, I couldn’t NOT have this as the theme song. It features a lot. With good reason.
The Final Word:
Part of (Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda author) Becky Albertalli‘s blurb on the cover of The Hate U Give says “Everyone should read this book.” I fully and completely agree with that statement. Angie Thomas has achieved a brilliant balance with The Hate U Give. It’s incredibly timely, heartbreakingly true, but still bold, relatable, funny, and honest. I’m grateful that she wrote this book, and even more grateful to be more woke because of it. I’ll be passing this one on to every one I know, and eagerly awaiting Ms. Thomas’ next book.
This book is so amazing that I really needed to share the love. So I’m hosting a short giveaway, open internationally, to anyone who wants/needs a copy. Sign up below!
THE HATE U GIVE is out in bookstores now. Have you read this stunning, empowering book? If not, will you be reading it? Would love to hear your thoughts on the book and just racism in general.