The Hate U Give
It’s no surprise that The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas quickly became a New York Times bestseller after its release in 2017. It was so successful that it’s currently being adapted into a feature film which will hopefully hit cinemas at the end of 2018 or early 2019.
The Hate U Give is a vulnerable, unforgettable story about 16-year-old Starr, who’s growing up in a poor neighborhood in the United States while also going to a predominantly white, private high school. Her two worlds clash when a police officer shoots and kills her best childhood friend and she is the only witness. Starr’s loyalty, personal identity, and sense of home are shaken. This traumatic experience brings national limelight to the current (and long-standing) practice of police brutality toward black communities and the failed justice system in the US.
I am writing this review as a person with white privilege who has grown up in New Zealand. Despite this, I can relate to Starr’s experience of being in a minority group as a person who identifies as queer and deaf/hard of hearing.
These identities are unlike those of racial stereotypes because they can be mediated by the individual, and are invisible in most interactions, but the feeling of being the only one in a group is the same. I understand the need to constantly push against stereotypes experienced by peers and teachers that ultimately contribute to a feeling of isolation. At school, Starr puts on her “workers hat” (that is worn by most people who experience being a minority) to push against the racial stereotypes that she experiences from those around her. Her awareness of being “too black” is all too real.
Author Angie Thomas draws the reader in by writing with lingo and slang from the point of view of 16-year-old Starr. Thomas’ writing style really emphasizes the first person narrative with an autobiographical feeling. Have a read of the first few chapters on Epic Reads here to get a feel for the writing.
From unpacking social media activism and Tupac lyrics, to a Harry Potter theory, Thomas brings relatable metaphors and accessible context to a wide range of age groups. As I turned the pages and read the innocence and humor of a young teenager, it seemed like my mind was constantly winded, shocked, and awakened to a system that fails everybody, every class, color, gender, ability, and sexuality. If one minority group loses out, we all do. Starr proves that there is always a choice to make a change, and shows us just how much a young teenage girl can do with the cards she is dealt.
Pick up this book if you are feeling revolutionary. Pick up this book if you want to read about a romance that challenges social norms. And last but not least, pick up this book if you want to experience the life of one kick-ass, wholehearted, teenage girl.