Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Walker Books
Genre: Teen/young adult fiction, Contemporary
Book format: Paperback
Description: 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.
*Free copy provided bypublisher for review…
Review: This is an amazing novel with a powerful message. The Hate U Give is a book that really relates to the world today and it’s an important book that teens and indeed adults should read. The book begins at a party where we’re introduced to Starr and the world she lives in. It was a hard for me to get into this novel at the beginning due to all the slang used. The novel is told in the first person narrative and it was hard enough for me to understand some of the slang the characters used in dialogue, but Starr herself, as a narrator to us, also used slang and what can be considered not quite proper grammar so for me personally it was harder to get used to the book’s writing than it was for some people.
Of course I did get used to the book’s style and it didn’t take long for the story to really suck me in. After leaving the party with her friend Khalil, a white policeman stops them, and I won’t explain the details but he ends up shooting Khalil, killing him. The scene as it’s described is a little shocking both in its description and the nature of the way Khalil was shot. It also had an emotional pull as this could and does happen in today’s society, particularly in America where the story is set.
The rest of the novel follows Starr after the shooting. There’s not only the personal struggle she goes through while grieving someone’s death, but also the social issue, that this was a black man who was shot by a white policeman and the racist nature of the event. The book is inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and I’m not surprised that this has received hundreds of great reviews already for it’s message alone. The book has a clear message of anti-racism and shows well the true nature of what happens in some communities. However the book isn’t just good because of the message it gives but the storytelling is amazing too.
Despite it taking some time to get into this I felt gripped throughout and kept wanting to read on. After a while my brain could make the switch into the slightly slang way that Starr narrated and because it was such an exciting novel to read I didn’t mind the slang speak, had it not been in the first person I probably would have said differently though.
Although the story is great to read and has a great and satisfying ending, even though not the happiest of endings, there are things I didn’t like. There was an obvious culture around Starr and her neighbourhood and there was a slight prejudice feel towards all white people by Starr and moreso by others in her neighbourhood, despite *spoiler alert* – Starr having a white boyfriend – *spoiler end*. This didn’t really bother me it’s just that all the white people in the story were from rich neighbourhoods and that’s just not the case in this world, although this could just be a personal thing for me as I’ve faced my own problems of prejudice/discrimination being white but with Eastern European blood.
This book is a really great read and so necessary in today’s culture. It’s a tough read though and despite being a YA book I think only those who are a little older should read this as it’s got violence, mentions of drug selling and use, references to sex and a lot of swearing. The book has a lot of use of the s and especially the f words as well as the n word although this word was used by the black characters rather than the white so the context was different.
The Hate U Give is definitely a book I’d recommend and should probably be a book taught at schools. Some of the culture is a little different to what it is like in this country but it’s still a significant and powerful read. What happens to the characters really gets you emotionally and you feel compelled to keep reading and even though the book is over 400 pages long, I never grew tired of it. After reading the story I’d also advise anyone to read the author’s notes. When you read those the book becomes even more significant and you can see how the author had a lot of personal experience with the culture and effects of the subject in this book. I wouldn’t recommend this to the youngest of teens (unlike some reviews I’ve seen) this is due to all the violence and language used, but I would recommend this to older teens used to this in books plus anyone older too.
Have you read this book? What do you think about books that bring up strong issues like this in our own culture? Let me know what you think in the comments below 🙂