Tuesday, January 9, 2018

Book Review: "The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give Angie Thomas
Date Finished: December 19, 2017
Date Published: February 28, 2017
ISBN: 9780062498533
Genre: Young Adult Fiction
Source: Library
Highly Recommended

You might enjoy this book if you like: Socially conscious novel, books by diverse writers, novels about current events

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. 

My Thoughts:
I have to confess that I went into reading this book thinking that I wouldn't like it.  You see, highly-hyped books rarely, if ever, live up to expectations for me.  There have been countless books I probably would have loved if I had read them pre-release, or a few years after release.  This book, however, was the unicorn--it not only lived up to the hype, it surpassed it.  This book delivered on every single level and touched me in ways that I didn't expect.

The premise of the novel is far too familiar--an unarmed, young African-American man is gunned down by a police officer during a traffic stop.  The narrator, Starr, witnesses it and then finds herself in the center of the storm surrounding the murder.

What I appreciated most about Starr is that she multi-faceted, in a number of ways.  On one hand, she's a typical teenager dealing with very typical teenage issues.  But she's also in a unique place because she straddles two worlds.  Her family lives in the predominately African-American part of town, but she attends a school in the suburbs with a very small African-American community.  A good portion of this book is devoted to her trying to juggle these two realities, and I found it fascinating.  There are plenty of novels who tell of one of these experiences, but Thomas was able to amplify both worlds by putting them side by side.

I will admit that I fell in love with Starr's family.  It's not perfect (and, at times, it's a bit Maury Povich-worthy), but the characters are all so well-drawn, that I found myself feeling their sufferings and frustrations, as well as their joys.  I also loved the fact that it was a family that came together under stress, when usually we see the opposite.

This is not an easy book to read and Thomas does not back down from the difficult issues.  However, it is a necessary book to read.  I do not live in an area where racial unrest is a major issues, so I only experience through news reports covering incidents in other part of the country.  This book brought it home for me and made me feel as if I were part of the action.  For those of us who live in a relative comfort away from these issues, this book will break us out of our ivory towers.

I can think of few books that affected me as this one did and I have recommended it to everyone I've talked to since finishing it (and a re-read will happen later this year, since it is now on the docket for one of my book clubs!).  If you haven't read this book, please pick it up as soon as possible.  It is definitely a critical read.

I was not solicited for this review and I received no compensation for this post.

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