Friday, November 2, 2018

The Hate U Give - Angie Thomas

Summary: 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. (Summary and pic from goodreads.com)

My Review: It will be no surprise to you, I’m sure, from just reading this title, that this book is very emotionally charged. I feel like this is a good time for me to give a disclaimer—I am not from nor do I live in a city where there is a large African-American population. I did grow up where there were other minority groups, and indeed I live in a place right now where the minority population is 25%, but I did not grow up in a place where there was a ghetto to avoid or shootings going on. Sure, there were things that happened, and there were places we did not go at night, but there was nothing like the situations in this story. That being said, maybe I’m the worst person to review this book. Then again, maybe I’m the person perfect. Although I am not unfamiliar with the police shootings and racial profiling, reading a first person account of these situations is something I have not done before. This is obviously a fictional book, but it is based on current events and situations that many people experience on a daily basis.

There were several things I really enjoyed about this book. I think it wouldn’t be nearly the book it is if it weren’t for was the voice of Starr, the main character. She was basically our guide through the book, and I loved her sassy attitude and her strength and vulnerability. I also loved how it felt like she took the reader along on a little cultural excursion, letting us into her teenage life complete with slang, social situations, parents, school, and living the dual life of being a kid from the “ghetto” (her words, not mine) but going to a private school in a privileged area. She felt real and made bad decisions just like a normal teen would, but she was also really strong and a force for good. I liked her a lot. I wouldn’t be nearly cool enough to be her friend, but I really liked her.

Another thing I really appreciated was how the author created a very authentic-feeling neighborhood. I don’t believe that all people in the ghetto are all bad. Of course not. I love how Thomas created a vibrant neighborhood full of people who loved and took care of one another. There were the neighborhood kooks like every neighborhood has, right alongside the giving and sharing people who are essential to making it like it is. That being said, Thomas didn’t pull any punches. There was gang activity and scary things, and ultimately that leads some big life changes for Starr and her family, which I won’t give away here. I just really appreciated how honest and authentic it felt.

I really appreciated the humanizing of the victim. Yeah, Khalil was a kid from a “bad” neighborhood and yeah he was selling drugs, but that doesn’t mean he deserved to die in a situation where he was innocent. I find it so hard that this kind of thing happens still, and this book was an eye-opening experience, not because I wasn’t aware of these things that are going on, but because I am aware and yet this insider perspective really fleshed out what it all means. I thought it was a very powerful book, and very worth a read, especially for the young adult audience. Maybe they’ll be able to create a better world than the one they were raised in.

My Rating: 5 Stars

For the sensitive reader: There is a lot of bad language, drugs, and some violence. There is teenage sexual fooling around but nothing too drastic.

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