Where do I even start with this book?
Obviously it’s incredible. Obviously it deserves every single day that it’s on the NYT Bestsellers List. Obviously it’s timely, and powerful, and necessary.
But it’s also whole lot of other things.
For those who are perhaps living under a very large rock, The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is a book inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement. It’s a chronicle of police brutality and the impact on black communities. Starr, our MC, witnesses the fatal shooting of Khalil, and the book starts from that.
1. It has one of the most amazing families in YA that I’ve ever had the privilege of reading.
Obviously we have Starr, our main character. There are also her brothers Seven and Sekani – Seven is fiercely loyal (Slytherpuff if I ever saw one) and Sekani is adorable and a complete show-off.
There’s her Dad, who is not only incredible smart but also incredibly funny. There’s a part where he’s talking about his theory of how Hogwarts houses are gangs, which was hysterical.
There’s her Mum, who can switch from yelling at Starr to telling her she loves her in five seconds flat. It’s quite the talent.
There’s Uncle Carlos, who Starr has come to regard almost as a father as well. He’s a cop and that conflict was a big part of the book.
They are an incredible family. Normally I have to go on Goodreads and search through reviews to remember the names of everyone, but this family is so memorable and they feel so REAL. They all support each other to the nth degree. They fight and argue. The kids respect the adults. And it’s brilliant. Angie Thomas has an incredible talent.
2. Starr takes no crap from anyone.
There’s this character Hailey who is not only casually racist but refuses to apologise for it. I love that Starr calls her out on it, and doesn’t put up with it. I love that she does the same with her white boyfriend Chris.
She’s really an amazing protagonist. Sure, she’s scared – wouldn’t you be? – but she’s so, so brave and I really admire her. I think it’s also really important for black girls to have a role model like Starr. To be able to see themselves and see that they don’t have to change their language or their behaviour to be less “black.” This is something Starr struggles with when she goes to her mostly-white school, and I love that she resolves to accept who she is.
3. The title also makes so much more sense when you read it.
I think it’s something you should all read for yourself, though 😉
4. A lot of it is devastating and awful. But then a lot of it is really funny.
FUNNY. Can you believe it? I thought this book would be incredibly serious. But it’s a little bit nerdy, it has amazing banter, and lots of pop culture references. Like Harry Potter and The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. Amazing.
5. It’s #ownvoices. Obviously.
Look, #ownvoices are just better. And I’m saying that as someone who often writes outside their lane. You just can’t deny the authenticity and the importance of #ownvoices books, and this has it written all over it – in the language, in the VOICE of Starr, in the detail and in the characters. There were a lot of things that I had to Google, because there’s a ton of AAVE (African American Vernacular English) in here. But that’s as it should be. We shouldn’t expect writers to have to change language to suit white readers.
Because this book is not written for white readers. And that’s what makes me so happy – that a book like this can do extremely well commercially tells publishers that readers want more books like this. Which leads to more #ownvoices books being published. Which leads to more teenagers being able to find themselves in the books they’re reading. So vote with your wallets, people.
In the above photo are a few books by black authors about black characters. I’ve read all of them, and they’re incredible. Although somehow they all happen to be about dance?? Which is intriguing. Not sure how that happened.
All in all, I think this is a book everyone should read.
Not only for the incredible representation and the topic matter, but also because it’s just a damn good book.
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, Khalil’s death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Starr’s best friend at school suggests he may have had it coming. When it becomes clear the police have little interest in investigating the incident, protesters take to the streets and Starr’s neighborhood becomes a war zone. 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 destroy her community. It could also endanger her life.
So since this is one of my favourite books this year – what have been your favourites? Have you read The Hate U Give yet? If not, are you buying it/reserving it/wishing for it immediately?