Pages: 464 pages
Published: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Genre: Young Adult, Fiction
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.
Powerful, riveting, provoking…there are so many words to describe this great YA book. As a teen librarian, I have to read a lot of YA books and there not many that leaves with a resonated a feeling of empowerment and emotional feeling. This book was one of the realist books I have ever read in the longest time. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this book takes a deep look at the shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer. It approaches an issue that has deeply affected everyone in this country. And this book does a beautiful job addressing issues that concern young teens of this generation. They will feel a personal connection to both the story it tells and the characters who are of that story.
The main protagonist, Starr Carter, is a great female character. She is honest, strong (even when she doesn’t think she is) authentic, resilient, all great characteristics you want in adolescents. Even through a personal tragedy that rocked to her core, Starr found her strength to fight through the darkest times. Starr is not always fearless but her perspective on how unjust the world can really be, she manages to find her voice to fight against the suffering. It filled me with so much pride for Starr and the inspiring presence she embodies. Starr constantly has to fight against two identities: her identity in her neighborhood and her identity at her preppy school, a conflict that I personally identify with. Having that connection made me connect with Starr, a factor that I don’t much with YA novels. Teens are always trying to find their identity in society and this novel really depicts it really well.
The story takes place in Garden Heights but there is no mention in what state this neighborhood or city resides in. Apart from a mention of a relative living in New York, there is no mention of the state. I don’t know if Thomas did this on purpose but I thought it was pure genius. It shows that these incidents are not central to one type of community or one state, this can happen anywhere. And Thomas’s words and her description of the settings forced me not to think of one real community in particular and that was the point. We, the readers, needed to throw out the stereotypes and remember what occurs in marginalized groups.
The Hate U Give‘s social commentary and the outlook of the current political climate is gripping and left me with a new perspective on the current issues. I highly encourage teens to read this book. It educates them on the world around them, makes them alert of the current issues, and inspire them to make the change that needs to happen. Most really don’t have a true understanding of what is going on but the emotions and the inspiration this book inflicts will open reader’s eyes to what truly is going on, something I feel the media has failed to inform on the public. I rarely encounter a book that touches on social issues that society are afraid to talk about. I believe that this book will force the discussion that we all need to have among ourselves but most importantly with the younger generation. Definitely pick up this book to read. You will not regret it.
Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars