Come on now, does THIS book even need an introduction? Let’s talk about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Publication Date: 6th April 2017
Publisher: Walker Books
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.
Unless you have been living on Mars for the last 6 months, you will have not escaped the hype surrounding The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Fox bought the film rights to The Hate U Give before it was even published, and Amandla Sternberg (Rue in The Hunger Games) is rumoured to be portraying Starr in the film adaptation. It became a New York Times bestseller within the first few weeks of publication, and over 100,000 copies of the book have been sold.
I was very, very, VERY lucky to receive the honour of a review copy of The Hate U Give in advance of publication. However, we all know by now I am a terrible blogger, and so my review is much later than I had planned. Hopefully, I still have something worthwhile to contribute.
The Hate U Give is told from the perspective of Starr, a teenage girl growing up in a neighbourhood where gun violence is rife and gangs rule the streets. The story begins at a party, one that quickly ends when a fight breaks out and shots are fired. Whilst driving home, Starr and her friend Khalil are pulled over by the police. Things quickly escalate, and Khalil is shot in front of Starr. The police officer alleges Khalil was reaching for a gun, and was protecting himself. Starr, the only witness, knows that this is a lie. She knows that Khalil was unarmed, and she knows what Khalil was reaching for; his hairbrush.
The news of Khalil’s death, and the subsequent media reports, adds fuel to the rising tensions in the neighbourhood. When it transpires that Starr was there, and knew Khalil personally, it begins to cause her problems at her predominately white private school, Williamsons. Starr is torn between her two worlds. Should she stay quiet, and opt for an easy life? Or should she stand up and use her voice to speak up for what is right?
What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?
Even though I had high expectations of The Hate U Give before reading, it completely exceeded them. Being an #OwnVoices novel inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement, it isn’t like anything I’ve ever read before. It pulls no punches, discussing issues such as race, class, poverty, activism, the bias of the media… I could go on. The most important thing of The Hate U Give was that it felt REAL. An unarmed teenager being shot by a police officer, is a story we are all sadly too familiar with.
Whilst I had no problem reading The Hate U Give I must admit that it used a lot of “slang” terms and expressions that I wasn’t familiar with. This did make the first few pages difficult to get into, but I persevered… (and Googled what some of the words meant!). After that, I couldn’t put the book down! I was completely engrossed in the lives of Starr and her family. Starr was a likeable, intelligent girl and she was written so well, I felt like I knew her personally. Whilst I note that some reviewers have questioned the need for the book to be over 400 pages, I feel that it helps to show how Starr deals with Khalil’s death and how she finds the strength to carry on in such a difficult, turbulent time.
Whilst we are discussing characters, I want to say that I absolutely LOVED Starr’s Mum and Dad. It was refreshing to read a family that loved and respected each other, and I could feel so much love from them towards Starr. However, I must admit that I disliked Starr’s boyfriend, Chris. I kept waiting for Starr to dump him, and to be honest I didn’t feel like there was enough passion between them to root for them as a couple. Even though yes, I am aware Starr is a fictional character, I felt like she could have done SO MUCH better!
I rated The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas 5/5 stars on GoodReads as I found it to be an emotional and powerful read. I hold my hands up and admit that this book has opened my eyes to things I had been blind to before, and this is a book that I would recommend to all.
Even though I am a sucker for hype, I cannot think of a book that deserves it more than The Hate U Give. I cannot wait to see what Angie Thomas writes next, and I can guarantee I’ll be first in line at the cinema to see how The Hate U Give translates to the big screen.