Starting this book, I knew that there was a bit of a hype wall I had to overcome. Yes, everyone that has read this has loved it, and for some reason, I can’t help but fight against the popular opinion at times. I tried to wait a little bit for the hype to die down and to finally get our library’s copy back. So, a year after its’ published date, I decided to crack it open. I was really relieved, it is as good as what people have said.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a young adult book about a teenage black girl that lives two lives: one in a white school, and one in a black neighborhood. Starr constantly has to be less black around her schoolmates and her white friends. Starr ends up witnessing her black childhood friend Khalil getting shot by a police officer even though Khalil was unarmed. As this becomes national news, Starr struggles with coming forward as the witness and shattering her image of who she is to her white friends, including her white boyfriend.
This book does a lot of things really well but there are two main reasons I absolutely loved it: It gives us an honest portrayal of her family, issues and all, and it encourages the reader to be real with themselves. First, Starr’s family consists of two brothers, one who shares a father with Starr, and the other both siblings. Starr’s brother, Seven, has a mother that is with the local drug dealer/”king” in the area. Even though technically, Starr’s father cheated on her mother with this woman, this family has worked through this issue over the years. Yes, it rears its head from time to time, as shown in the book, but this honesty about what makes up family is very refreshing. The bond that Starr and Seven has is so strong and when Starr puts her neck on the line for Seven, and vice versa, it helped me shatter some illusions I had of what family is. It also shattered Starr’s ideas of what family is all about when she and Kenya, Seven’s sister, realize how much they both care about their brother.
The other main reason I loved this book was that seeing Starr’s courage to finally accept herself and where she has come from, makes the reader want to accept themselves as well. Starr hid where she came from because she was afraid what others might think. If anything, this book tells us that we should never be ashamed of who we are. We need to stand up for who we are and if anyone doesn’t like that, they are not worth being in our lives. The friendship and eventual split between Starr and Hailey shows this dynamic perfectly and I’m excited that Thomas added this conflict in the book. Starr no longer puts up with Hailey’s ignorance about who Starr is and this helped Starr realize she should not hide her “blackness” from people.
This was a great book and I would recommend it to pretty much everyone. I thought the writing was solid; Angie Thomas knows how to write to her audience. I enjoyed my time reading it and never struggled to pick it up. Nothing in the book annoyed me, which is a huge plus when it comes to a young adult book. If I had to point out any flaw in the book it is that the book never surprised me or gave me that moment of pure excitement, but not all books need to do that. Good stuff, hope to read more from Thomas in the future.
18/25 Possible Score
4 – Plot
4 – Characters
3 – World Building/Setting
3 – Writing Style
4 – Heart & Mind Aspect