I just finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, the book it seems like “everyone is reading” and loving. This book currently has 4.72/5.0 stars on Goodreads!
Starr Carter is a 16-year-old black girl who has already witnessed the shooting deaths of two of her friends. The second of which is the basis of this book.
Her friend Khalil is unarmed and is shot by police while reaching for a hairbrush. This particular story is fiction. But it is inspired by and pays tribute to all those stories which are not fiction. The rest of the novel follows the aftermath and investigations in to the death and Starr’s personal journey to use her own voice to seek justice for Khalil.
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice,” notes Starr.
I picked this book up with high expectations, not only because of the buzz surrounding it but also because this is a topic I am passionate about.
Even though a sticker on the book clearly shows “TEEN” classifying it as YA (Young Adult) literature, I admit I expected it to move beyond that category. In its topic, I think it did move beyond this, but to me anyway, it still definitely reads as a teen novel. This is not a bad thing because it is a teen novel! I admit I do not generally read or prefer teen or YA literature…so I I am attempting to review its value for this genre.
Adults who follow the Black Lives Matter movement don’t necessarily need this book because so many real stories have already provided our evidence and heartbreak on this matter. However, it is still an enjoyable read, and I did harvest some valuable perspective on many aspects of the black community.
And for younger people and especially ones who may be growing up like I did – in white America – this book gives valuable perspective.
If I had teenagers or was a middle school or high school teacher or librarian, I would be pushing this book hard.
From the news stories we see, it is possible to see some of the victims as thugs, drug dealers, trouble makers. Even if this is the case, is it ok for them to be shot? Starr says:
“I don’t understand how everyone can make it seem like it’s okay he got killed if he was a drug dealer or a gangbanger…I didn’t know a dead person could be charged in his own murder.
Because this topic inspires strong feelings, I want to be clear that I believe that most cops are good and do the best they can in difficult situations. I know good cops, and I support good cops. I can not imagine what it is like to go out every day and put your life on the line for others. I am thankful to have the protection of the police. Likewise, this book does not bash the police in general. Starr’s uncle is also a cop. I hate that supporting the Black Lives Matter movement is automatically associated with anti-cop. For the record, I support Black Lives Matter and I am not anti-cop.
My uncle’s a cop. I know not all cops are bad. And they risk their lives, you know? I’m always scared for my uncle. But I’m tired of them assuming. Especially when it comes to black people…This all happened because he – I can’t say his name – assumed we were up to no good. Because we’re black and because of where we live. We were just two kids, minding our business, you know? His assumption killed Khalil. It could’ve killed me.”
In summary, this book is extremely well written, valuable, and inspiring. By putting this book in the hands of teenagers maybe we can look forward to a country with fewer assumptions.
It provides the following important message to all of us:
“Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.”
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