Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. From Goodreads.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has been getting so much hype lately, especially from those in the US. It's such an important book, but I was worried; I've read books that have been hyped before and been let down. But The Hate U Give is worth all the hype it's receiving and then more some. It's absolutely incredible.
A powerful and moving story inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give follows Starr in the aftermath of seeing her best friend, Khalil, shot and killed by a police officer. It's a hugely emotional story, and you'll feel so angry and so upset as Starr struggles with how best to fight for justice, despite her growing fear of the police and her own safety.
Starr lives in a poor, black neighbourhood, Garden Heights, where gangs rule, and goes to a posh private school where most of the students are white. At school, she's automatically cool simply for being black, but she's always watching what she says or how she reacts to what's said or done; use too much slang, she'll be seen as ghetto, react with an attitude, she'll be the sassy black girl, react angrily, she'll be the angry black girl. In Garden Heights, she feels she can be herself, but also that she doesn't fit in; she doesn't know most of the teens because she's never around. She's either at school, or she's working at her dad's store - and is known as "the girl who works at the store."
After witnessing Khalil's murder - because that is exactly what it is - Starr is full of grief, but also traumatised. This isn't the first time she's seen someone fatally shot; when she was ten-years-old, she was there when her friend Natasha was shot and killed in a drive by shooting. What's worse, Khalil was shot by a cop, and she is the only witness. She wants to do all she can to get justice for Khalil, but as a witness, if people know, she'll get attention that could put her in danger. So her family agree that she doesn't tell anyone; no-one at Garden Heights, no-one at school. But when giving a statement to the police about what happened leads to the police deciding not to charge the police officer who killed Khalil, Starr feels like she's failed him, that she hasn't done enough. When she is approached by someone from Just Us for Justice, an organisation that tries to get justice in cases like Khalil's, with encouragement from her daddy, she learns that her voice can be a weapon, and she can speak up against police brutality.
But The Hate U Give isn't just about getting justice for Khalil, although that is the focus of the story. It's also about what it's like to live in Starr's neighbourhood. It's a place of poverty, real poverty. Starr and her family are lucky that her father was left the shop he worked at by his previous employer - the only person who would hire him after he came out of prison. They're doing ok, well enough to send three children to a private school, but it wasn't always like that. And there are people who are still struggling - going without food struggling. Add to that the gangs in the area, who sell drugs to people who have no money to buy them, who recruit children, and your heart just sinks for these people. This is fiction, but I would genuinely feel a little scared whenever King, a gang leader, would show up int he story. He poses such a very real threat to Starr and her family. Life is hard, really hard. Like Starr, when you hear about young guys who join the gangs, you will think, "What are you thinking?!" Like Starr, you'll judge those in a gang. You'll start stereotyping them. But as the story goes along, you'll come to realise these people don't feel they have any choice when their families are starving. These guys aren't necessarily as bad as you think. Some of them are really good guys, guys who just have very few options available to them.
This story is also about family, and my god, Starr's family! They are adorable. Not in a cutesy way, but in how fiercely they love each other, in how close they are. Starr's parents are so protective, and rightly so considering what Starr has witnessed, and what she has to do as a witness. Khalil's death angers the whole neighbourhood, and they express their anger through rioting. Garden Heights isn't exactly safe right now, and her parents argue about how best to keep Starr and their whole family safe. And they're angry, they are so angry; that their daughter had to witness something horrific, that she is pressured to give her statement, that her statement ends up meaning nothing, that Starr isn't safe right now. They are a religious family who pray to Black Jesus, and are proud of the black activists who came before them, with pictures up in their house and in their store; Malcolm X, Huey Newton, the Black Panthers. Starr has such a fantastic relationship with her whole family; her parents, her older brother Seven, her younger brother Sekani, and her Uncle Carlos, who is a police officer. Starr fights and has arguments with Seven, but they are also so protective of each other. and it's just wonderful to see the love that this family has for each other. They have such a strong bond, and I think it's rare to see such close families in YA; they don't always get on, they'll have disagreements and fight, but they are still so close. It's just wonderful.
There is so much more I could talk about; Starr's relationship with her school friends who don't understand her life in Garden Heights, the casual racism she experiences, her relationship with her white boyfriend and how she feels about their relationship after all that's happened. But this review is already so long. There are just so many layers to this book. This isn't a story about a boy who was shot by the police, but about the people; the people it affects, the people who live in places like Garden Heights, the people who are always, always, given the short end of the stick because of their skin colour. It's about the people who are always fighting for justice, fighting to be on equal standing, fighting to be seen as the people they are. This book is so powerful. It's more than just a story, it's activism. For those like Starr, it shows them that they are seen and understood, and for the rest of us, it shows us the reality of police brutality, the lies and the cover ups to justify another death of a black man, and it's a call to arms that says this is not ok, this is not acceptable, and we have to stand up, speak and fight too - all of us. Read this book and learn. Read this book and face the truth. Read this book and join those already fighting.
The Hate U Give is so incredibly imporant. Please, just read this book.
Thank you to Walker Books for the proof.
Published: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
Angie Thomas' Website
If you enjoyed this post, feel free to follow me on:
Bloglovin' | Twitter | Instagram