Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Walker Books
UK Release Date: 6th April 2017
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult
Source: School librarian
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.
Before I start, I have a confession: I have been putting off writing this review for a long time. I read this book in January, but for three months I haven’t wanted to write the review. It wasn’t because I didn’t like it – in fact, as you can see at the bottom of this review, I would give this book five stars. I had the same problem when reviewing Girl Detached by Manuela Salvi, and I think the issue is that the book is just so amazing that I’m not entirely sure how to put my thoughts into words. How are you supposed to break down a book that you loved into a few paragraphs to try and persuade someone to read it? Well, I’m going to have a go now, I guess.
I think the obvious place to start is the premise of the book. One of the reasons that The Hate U Give has received a lot of attention is because it was influenced by the Black Lives Matter movement and police shootings. This topic is perceived as controversial by many, and so I think it is amazing that Angie Thomas wrote about something which is so important. There are already so many conversations which have started around the themes of this book, because it conveys so strongly how imperative it is that the world is rid of racist ideas, and I’m sure that there are many more conversations to come. I am thrilled by the fact that The Hate U Give topped the New York Times Children’s Best Sellers, as it is proof that this book is reaching widely, meaning it can hopefully be opening as many people’s eyes and minds as possible.
The characters of this book were also a huge highlight for me. Starr’s family were just so wonderful, and it would be impossible to read this book and not come away adoring her mother and father, as they had so much personality, and cared for Starr so much. My favourite character had to be Starr, as she was so scared but so determined; doing what felt right was terrifying for her, and yet she did it anyway for Khalil. Admittedly, I did hate a select few characters – not because they were badly written, but because the way Angie Thomas wrote them meant you couldn’t help but dislike them (I don’t want to say who in particular, but there was one character who made me so angry that I was very tempted to throw the book across the room).
The other main thing for me that made reading this book just a great experience was how much of a journey it was. There was emotion and there were twists and turns as I went along; nothing was straightforward, but then I guess when it comes to a topic like this, which should be simple but frankly isn’t, it’s never going to be straightforward. Starr’s voice was so vivid that I immediately became enveloped in the story, and my emotions followed accordingly. There was a lot of anger on behalf of the character, sadness and frustration too (mainly for the same reasons that I felt angry), and definitely shock. With some aspects, like Starr feeling as if she is a different person at school versus at home, I’d never fully realised that for some people life is like that, and so the book definitely opened my eyes a bit to aspects of other people’s lives.
Overall, I’m just so happy that I had the chance to read and review this book, as not only it is an exceptionally important and topical book, but it’s also very well written, with a really strong voice and an intensity of feeling about it. This is a book that I hope everyone will be shouting about.