If someone close to you was killed unjustly, what would you do? Would you speak out, even if it could put you and the rest of your community in danger?
This is the conflict Starr Carter faces when Khalil Harris, a childhood friend, is shot and killed by the police - with her as the only witness. The media renounces him as a drug dealer, a thug, and a gang member but Starr knows the truth - he was unarmed and unready, and in a “ghetto” town like Garden Heights, that means revolution.
It’s been a long, long time since I’ve read a book like this. Back in March of this year, EpicReads boldly exclaimed, “If you only read one book this year, let it be The Hate U Give.” And as hyperbolic as that statement sounds, it’s one I heartily agree with.
How often do you read a book about police brutality? Racism? Stereotypes? Gangs? The ghetto? These are topics we should be focusing on, yet they’re all things that we shy away from. The YA industry especially, notwithstanding its claims that it's becoming more diverse and accepting. How often do you see a realistic fiction book talking about these issues, and how often do you see it done well?
We actively avoid media containing the unpleasant truths of our time. Books are supposed to be a source of escapism, not activism! Too often, social issues are kept entirely separate from our daily lives, and we start to grow complacent, content to stick with the entertainment industry’s infinite stream of cliche nothingness.
Once in a blue moon though, there’s a piece that doesn’t avoid issues of our time, but embraces them, calling them out for all to see. The recent Netflix television show 13 Reasons Why is one, as is the book it was based on, and now, The Hate U Give is another.
A problem with media of this kind however, is the amount it talks about the chosen subject. They either brush past the subject or blow it way out of proportion, losing all meaning.The Fault in our Stars, for example, is touted for talking about cancer but it treats cancer like a plot device and not a real situation that people deal with. The characters are too static, and too perfect; philosophers in the body of teenagers, talking about death like some sort of age old theory. As enjoyable as it may be to read about Augustus and Hazel’s misadventures, they’re not relatable and not true to life. The television show 13 Reasons Why was praised for talking about suicide, only to have a ridiculously flashy finale simply for shock value.
The Hate U Give does not have this problem. Starr Carter is relatable even for people with no prior experience with the ghetto because she’s human. She’s a living, breathing, human character we can all sympathize with and not an distant caricature of what adults think or wish teens act like. The Hate U Give isn’t an idealized parable of what people should do when discriminated against, it’s a real account of what discrimination is. This book captures racism in all its ugliness - the way it’s perpetuated in friend groups through subtle racism and how it twists public opinion without proof.
Racism is not something that lived and died in the days when “separate but equal” was the norm. It’s something that still needs to be talked about, and that’s what The Hate U Give does exceptionally well. 5 out of 5 stars.
Review by Janice R.
Are you in dire need of a reality check? Well then, Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give” is for you. No, seriously. This book is an up close, personal story of sixteen year old Starr Carter who lives in the “no-good ghetto” of Garden Heights. The book opens with Starr attending her first Garden Heights party when she bumps into her childhood friend Khalil. It’s a tale as old as time: shy, awkward girl bumps into childhood friend-turned-handsome-crush. Their reunion is wonderfully uncomplicated, witty banter and the works, coupled with Tupac on the car radio. Until, a police officer cuts their reunion short, asks for licence and registration, and demands they get out of the car. Oh, and shoots Khalil to death for opening his car door. Like I said, reality check.
Angie Thomas immediately picks up from Khalil’s death, not missing a beat. Starr’s voice is a breath of fresh air: riddled with expletives, short sentences, yet wise and sharp- “It’s dope to be black, until it’s hard to be black.” The language will probably be unlike anything you’ve seen; a sixteen year old, who talks and swears like an actual teenager, and not some rambling philosopher. The characters are at times painfully sympathetic, and Starr doesn’t sugarcoat, but some moments are cavity-inducing sweet. Overall, 9 “black-and-blond fro’ hawks” out of 10.
Review by Srija C.
I really loved and enjoyed this book.The characters were very interesting, and the plot was really nice.After reading this book, i learned a lot about how people are treated differently, just because of their race.The book has a stunning story line, and had amazing details.The book helped give a better understanding of what it was like back then, and what it feels like to be an outcast.My favorite character was definitely Starr, because she went through a lot after her best friend Khalil died at the hands of a police officer, I really liked Starr because she was really brave when she was at the court, and that she fought through a lot.I really loved this book, and i hope many people enjoy it the same way i did.I rate this a 5 out of 5.
Review by Rohit N.
Rating: 4.5 Stars
A 16-year-old girl name Starr Carter has two identities. One as a part-time worker in her father's grocery store at Garden Heights, and another as a cool smart basketball star at Williamson’s Preparatory school. Starr’s lives are completely different. At the fancy Prep school, she becomes the “Williamson’s Starr”, in which she is admired for being black without any stereotypes. In Garden Heights, she has to deal with the uncomfortable atmosphere of being judged by the school she attends and the people she hangs around with. On the other hand, she is able to let loose and act as ghetto as she wants to. Yet the night when her friend Khalil gets shoot changes everything. Now, she has a voice unlike when her friend got shot when she was little. Starr can finally demonstrate what THUG LIFE truly means, or The Hate U Give to start a movement so big it will change Garden Heights forever. With handling violence, racism, and political issues, the author does a great job in not being completely bias with the issue. This book really captures the lifestyle of the current generation and is highly recommended for teens ages 13 and up.
Review by: Alyson M.