"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr. But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life"--
16-year-old Starr is catching up innocently in a car with her friend Khalil, when a traffic stop goes sideways and a police officer shoots and kills unarmed Khalil. Right off the newspaper front pages, right? Nothing is simple; many consider the police officer to be a good guy. While people attempt to portray Khalil as a gangbanger and drug dealer, his choices aren't what they appear - and should they even, retrospectively, matter. Starr herself has feet in more than one world - she lives in a dangerous neighborhood, but her parents have saved to send her elsewhere to an almost all-white school, and her well-portrayed boyfriend is white. Her uncle is a respected cop, and her father is a former gangbanger who got out.
Casual, "unintentional" racism crops up at the school and with a close friend. The effects of brutality and drug addiction are seen in her neighborhood and among her extended family. Starr, as the witness, is caught up in the investigation and grand jury's determination, and in a gang leader's concern that she not snitch. Bad cops of different races enter the picture, as do good ones.
If you don't believe in the Black Lives Matter movement because All Lives Matter (and logically you don't believe in groups that support Breast Cancer Research, because All Cancer Matters), then you won't want to read this book. I'm heartened that so many kids (and adults) are reading it; it's been a YA bestseller for many weeks now.
“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
* * * *
“That's the problem. We let people say stuff, and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What's the point of having a voice if you're gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn't be?”
* * * *
“Once upon a time there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug.
He lived, but not nearly long enough, and for the rest of my life I'll remember how he died.
Fairy tale? No. But I'm not giving up on a better ending.”
* * * *
The title comes from performer Tupac Shakur’s THUG LIFE acronym - “The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody”. Khalil explains: “What society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out.”
This book credibly presents a variety of sides, arguments and responses. Starr's neighborhood is all too real, and so are the other worlds that collide with it. Michael Brown, Trayvon Martin, Tamir Rice - we've seen so many young victims like Khalil. Angie Thomas has done a remarkable job of bringing the reader inside, where all the suffering, disappointment and hope lie.
In my opinion, this one is a classic. It is being widely read and studied already, and I can only see that continuing. The entrenched effects of racism, classism, and ignorance are brought into the light, thanks to our engaging and all-too-human guide, Starr.
But when Starr accepts a ride home from a party with her former best friend Khalil whom she hasn't seen for a long time, they are stopped by a cop. Her friend makes a sudden move, and is gunned down. Starr has a gun held on her until other police arrive.
Khalil was rumored to be a drug dealer and the cop thought he had a gun. But is any of that relevant?
Starr wants to hide her involvement as the 'unidentifed passenger' from her white friends, but also needs to honor her murdered friend's memory. And so begins Starr's journey to make sense of the two parts of her life, to figure out who she is and how justice and injustice permeate her life.
It's a complex and moving story, straight out of the headlines. I finished the book with huge empathy for those caught up in these events and increased awareness of how my white privilege has colored my views.
A rare five star book.
A really well presented perspective on racial/socioeconomic/cultural identity with verbal code switching between Starr in her 'hood and Starr at a private/privileged, mostly-white school, plus the ability to use one's voice to call attention to issues as well as to shape a conversation, as well as taking responsibility for one's actions and looking out for one's neighbors. I also learned a lot about Tupac and the interpretation of his THUG LIFE philosophy, which was also really well done and a valuable thing that we'd do well to understand. I also appreciated how complicated the shooting of Khalil turned out to be, with a mix of emotions on each side--Uncle Carlos' reversed stance is one example of how different an incident can look even to the same person at different times.
Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give
The Hate U Give was on my to be read pile for way too long. Since its release in 2017, it has received countless accolades and fantastic reviews. Now I know why! After reading the YA novel, I understand and completely agree with thousands of other readers. The book is relevant, heartbreaking, humorous and important. It reads easily and the story flows at an excellent pace. Although it does have some strong language, I feel it's quite in sync with how teens behave (especially when no adults are around). Thomas gets adolescents and their jargon for sure! Both of my daughters (14 and 26 years old) absolutely loved this book and finished it pretty fast. Also, the movie is quite phenomenal! The Hate U Give is a gripping and thought-provoking book everyone should read!! Especially because it is so relevant in today's world.
The subject matter is tough, but essential, and thankfully the book is extremely readable. There are so many fascinating perspectives here: Starr's uncle is a black police officer in the same precinct. Starr's family is technically well-off enough to move to a different neighborhood, but should they? Starr's father used to be in a gang but got out when he went to prison for 3 years when Starr was young, and he still feels guilt about leaving his family for that long. Starr really likes her white boyfriend, but doesn't know if he'll ever be able to truly understand her. Starr is a wonderfully realistic character, and her life is one almost never seen in print before. This book is perfectly written, very important, and good exercise for your empathy muscles. Highly recommended for literally absolutely everyone.
So many thoughts and emotions are swirling in my mind as I attempt to process my reaction to this book. It is powerful, allowing Starr to narrate and speak to the reader about her family, her school, her friends, her life. It's as coherent an argument I've ever read for changing our society and fighting against racism. And it doesn't treat any of these issues lightly or less complexly than they deserve - her family, for example, struggles with whether they should stay in a neighborhood with gang activity to improve it, or move to the suburbs where the schools would be better and the streets safer. It is a hard read, but it also has moments of joy and hope, especially surrounding Starr's family and the people who love her. I cannot recommend this highly enough to teens and adults alike. Want to understand why people are rioting right now? Read this.
A compelling, complex exploration of social issues and race in America. It was powerful and gave me much food for thought. It is a helpful way to explore hot topics in the news and contemporary life through this realistic fiction story with amazing characters.
While this book would be a match for some 8th graders, I don't know if many 6th graders would be ready for the themes and language...which has me waffling about its place in the middle school library.
Sixteen-year-old Starr is the only witness to her unarmed friend Khalil’s shooting death by a white police officer. Her trauma and grief is quickly compounded by the fear of speaking out to a grand jury, as well as to the public.
Before the shooting, Starr lived in two different worlds. Her weekdays were spent in a predominately white, affluent private school. There, she’s cool by default, she explains, because she’s one of the few black students. Yet, she’s careful not to act too ‘black’ for fear the white students will think she’s ‘ghetto’. At home in her gang-ridden neighborhood, she’s a sassy-mouthed, Air Jordan loving girl who works part-time at her gang-legend dad’s convenience store.
But then Khalil’s shooting becomes national news. The media justifies her friend’s death by labeling him a thug and drug dealer. Many agree, including one of her best friends at school. There was always a rift between her two worlds, but now it’s larger than ever.
As Starr says, “I hope none of them asks me about my spring break. They went to Taipei, the Bahamas, Harry Potter World. I stayed in the hood and saw a cop kill my friend.” Start has hard choices to make. If she speaks out, will it mean justice for Khalil? Or will it only serve to further isolate Starr?
The stories of Eric Garner, Treyvon Martin, Philando Castile, and many others haunt the pages of Angie Thomas’ debut novel “The Hate U Give.” Through the eyes of Starr, she reveals the reality of systemic racism, as well as a gut-punching sense of what it’s like to be young and black in America today. Thomas’s talent for writing natural dialogue and exceptional characters will elevate the story above any others you’ve recently read. Your heart will go out to Starr as you cheer her on, all the while hoping that the gross lack of justice in real life isn’t repeated in the pages of this fictional book.
“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas is a young adult novel told from the perspective of a sixteen-year-old girl, but the story will appeal to far more than just teens. There isn’t a more authentic voice than that of youthful innocence to lay bare the reality of racism and take it straight to readers’ hearts. “The Hate U Give” will indeed serve as a mirror for some, but as a much-needed window for the rest.
Thomas deserves our highest praise — and thanks.
The Hate U Give, the YA novel by author Angie Thomas is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement. This fact may make some readers shy away but I hope not. This is a beautifully written book both in its style and content. It is, at times, heartbreaking, even occasionally humourous but completely riveting. One thing it never is is simplistic. Thomas never shies away from the very real problems within impoverished neighbourhoods including drugs and gangs but she also gives a powerful portrait of and insight into a world where options are limited, usually bad, and too often deadly. The title is taken from Tupac Shakur’s explanation of Thug Life: The Hate U Give Little Infants F**ks Everybody and this philosophy runs throughout the novel, examining the effects that racism has, not only on the victims but on the perpetrators and the society as a whole.
This is that rare book that I had to read more than once not because I didn’t feel its impact the first time but because I did. And know I will read it again. The Hate U Give is possibly the best book I will read this year and I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Thanks to Edelweiss and Balzer & Bray for the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review
Starr and her brothers straddle two worlds. In one world there is a strict code of behavior and an excellent education with kids from wealthy families and in the other there are gangs and drive-by shootings and poverty. Starr lives in the ghetto and attends school in a bubble neighborhood of privilege. Her mom is a nurse and her dad, Maverick, runs a market where Starr helps out. He is an ex convict. He covered for another gang member who would have been a three time loser, sacrificed himself, and spent three years in prison. He is respected and has a lot of positive influence in his ghetto community of Garden Heights. He has no intention of ever going back to prison.
Starr is a senior at Williamson, a posh private school. She has created two personalities for herself. One is her ghetto half in Garden Heights, and the other is the one she takes to Williamson. The two worlds do not mix and even her mode of speech changes from place to place. What is cool in one place is definitely not cool in the other. No one in the private school world knows much about the Starr from the ghetto, not even her boyfriend Chris, a very wealthy white teenager who is also a senior. She keeps the two worlds separate and apart, unwilling to expose both sides of her self in either place, unwilling to expose herself to ridicule.
Chris’s world is completely different from Starr’s. Her house could fit into one of the rooms in his house! He took her to the prom in a Rolls Royce. He believes that they have been totally honest with each other and is surprised when he learns that he knew so little about her, that her world is so different from his. He is hurt when he discovers the secrets she has kept from him. When he learns that her ten year old friend, Natasha, was murdered in a drive by shooting, and that she witnessed the recent shooting death of Khalil, her close friend, by a police officer, he wants to be there for her, but she is not sure she wants him to let him into her worldview or to experience her lifestyle.
The author highlights the differences in the lives of Starr and her family when compared to her private school friends. How can the differences, injustices and misunderstandings in our “bubble” communities be addressed? Why are there so many misinterpretations and over-reactions by those in the two communities and those charged with protecting them? Why do police officers assume that a person of color is immediately suspect? Why do minorities distrust authority? I haven’t walked in the shoes of those who live in oppressed neighborhoods, although I am part of a minority, as a Jew. My background’s oppression has been different, although horrific as well. I don’t believe that I can fully comprehend the mindset or the prejudice that exists in poor minority communities. I haven’t watched as my friends were harassed by law enforcement or seen their unarmed friends senselessly gunned down. Living “while black” is not a condition a white person can understand or judge alone. For an honest assessment of the issues and concerns presented in this book and perhaps an honest approach to changing them, an honest dialogue between all parties is required, honest being the watchword. Some responsibility exists on all sides of the dilemma and must be acknowledged.
I had questions, as I read, that still remain unanswered, questions that a person of color might mock, i.e. why would a black person want to sound uneducated to be cool? Why is that cool? I wanted to lose my Jewish inflection as fast as I could so that I would fit in with the mainstream of America and open locked doors. Why wouldn’t a person of color dress for success? I can understand why some turn to lives of crime, almost as if they have no choice, because they need money, but why do so many turn to a life of crime? Why are the gangs in charge? Why is education mocked? Why is crime glorified in the so-called “hood?” How did the gangs get so much control that even the residents live in fear of them? Why are policeman so afraid in those neighborhoods, that when they are confronted, they become trigger happy? As a white person, I can’t answer those questions? My initial impulse is to respect authority, not to ignore it, to obey police officers and not to defy them. So if I am told to stop, I stop. If they tell me to keep my hands in one place, that is where my hands stay, if they speak to me in a way that I do not like, I generally swallow my pride and hold my tongue, I do not run because I am afraid to show defiance or resist their authority, but I am not afraid that I will be shot or hauled off because of my color.
The author has left me with the impression that the teenager was wrongfully murdered and had no responsibility in the outcome that took his life. His personal behavior seemed to have no bearing on what happened and was not interpreted to represent a threat to the officer. Only he was guilty, period. It didn’t help that the officer was portrayed as a blatant liar. The author wanted the reader to believe that the officer was totally guilty and the victim totally innocent. I believe that there has to be some gray area between the black and white of guilt or innocence.
The community wanted respect, once and for all, and when a verdict came down that they disapproved of, that wasn’t what they expected or hoped for, they took to the streets looting and rioting. Then when the police came to maintain order, they cried police brutality. If respect was demanded from the police, why wasn’t it also given to the police? If unlawful behavior like looting and rioting was the common practice everywhere, our society would be chaotic, and law enforcement would be completely powerless. Anarchy would prevail. There would be no safe space for anyone. Why, in protest, should a neighborhood’s lifeblood be destroyed to show disappointment? Why disabuse the merchants of their positive reasons to serve the community by destroying their investments?
Still, overall, I found the novel to be eye-opening. No one deserves to be murdered by a policeman or a rival gang member, but the aura of false bravado that is being elevated to acceptable standards seems to be a false solution. The author has done a wonderful job of showing how a community can come together to fight against what is destroying it. She reveals and explores the layers of distrust that exist. I don’t think enough emphasis was placed on the broad fear that the police officers’ have for their own safety. Denying the reality of the danger in their community won’t correct the situation that exists, let alone eradicate the outright bias on both sides. Still, beyond the shadow of a doubt shooting an unarmed man is problematic, but what should a policeman do, if his authority is mocked, if he is disobeyed and fears for his own life? Should he presume someone running away is innocent of criminal behavior? Should he let the suspect get away? I wondered which came first, the community’s fear of law enforcement or law enforcement’s fear of the community. Then I had one final thought, if a policeman is harassing a victim, does the victim have the right to fight back and if so, how?
The author’s political persuasion was pretty obvious, even though the dialogue in the book was subtle. She referred to one news network that she thought was prejudiced, and it was easy to guess which one it was. Why is an alternate opinion so difficult to accept and address? How can the problem be resolved if it is unaddressed?
The “hate u give” of the title refers to the idea that the minority community is underserved. It does not prepare anyone for a successful future. So, why is it that when alternatives are offered, there is resistance, especially if it is not offered by the left? Why not improve conditions regardless of how the offer is advanced?
I hope this book opens up some meaningful dialogue to help bring all people to the fount of success. This book cries out for discussion. In some ways it was flawed, i.e., the interracial nature of the relationship was really shown as a problem for Starr’s family, while Chris’ got barely a mention. He seemed to have pretty much free range to date whomever he pleased. However, overall, the main message of the story seemed authentic as it represented the collision of two disparate worlds. The narrator expertly portrayed each character in terms of personality and dialect and I was truly immersed in the book, feeling all of the emotions of the characters, all of the tension and all of the frustration. What I didn’t feel so much were the kumbaya moments.
Starr is a teenager who grows up in a struggling black neighbourhood in the US, but with the opportunity to strive for more than many of her neighbours have by going to a private school with a mostly affluent white student body. The book is very fast-paced and easy to read thanks to Starr's distinctive voice - which flourishes through the first-person narrative - yet doesn't shy away from exploring complex issues.
The main plot revolves around the shooting of Starr's unarmed friend Khalil by a white police officer, but the novel somehow manages to pack in a huge range of thoughts and ideas stemming from race in general, as well as the ups and downs of family relationships.
As a British Asian with predominantly white friends and colleagues, I was particularly struck by the complexity of the relationships between Starr and her white friends (including her boyfriend) and how difficult it can be to understand things from not just someone else's point of view, but from the point of the view of another race and culture altogether.
I also appreciated the fact that the book isn't an 'all police are evil' affair; Starr's uncle is on the force and brings another point of view to consider.
This is a wonderful and important novel that shouldn't just be read by its intended YA audience - older readers will also take much away from it. The book is very much 'of the moment' in terms of its cultural references, but its themes are certainly ones that have been and will continue to be explored for many years.