Book Reviews

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas: Book Review

This is a spoiler-free review.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Published February 28th, 2017 by Balzer + Bray.

My rating:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl’s struggle for justice.

Content Warnings: racism, police brutality

“That’s the hate they’re giving us, baby, a system designed against us. That’s Thug Life.”

There’s a reason I’m reviewing this book now.

I’ve been wanting to read it for a long time, but I had been waiting months in the hold line at my local library without coming any closer to having it in my hands. I wound up watching the movie first. That, coupled with everything going on in the world these past few weeks, made me feel like it was time. I was done waiting, and I needed to read this story.

The next day I went to the bookstore and bought it for myself.

Saying this book is a ‘must read’ feels like a disservice. This book is not only a must-read, it should be required reading. This isn’t the type of book you recommend to people who like the genre or people who are looking for something new to lose themselves in. This is the type of book every single person in your life could benefit from reading. This is the type of book you tell people to read. Because they need to hear what it has to say.

This book is timely, but you already knew that. You’ve been watching the news, keeping up to date on what’s been going on in the world all around you. You may have even marched in some protests, signed some petitions, or written to your political leaders, educational administration, or professional employers. You would have to be living under a rock to not see what is happening.

But, in some ways, I feel like I have been living under a rock. Because this movement is not new. This book was written in 2017 – based on a short story written in 2009 – and yet, it remains, to this day, extremely relevant.

While reading this novel I recognized that all those things Thomas wrote about: the police brutality, the protests, the curfews, the unnecessary excessive use of tear gas, the machine guns and tanks rolling down neighbourhood streets, those things were happening right at that moment in real life neighbourhoods, not so unlike Garden Heights. This story is fictitious, but the reality it describes is not.

“To every kid in Georgetown and in all “the Gardens” of the world: your voices matter, your dreams matter, your lives matter. Be roses that grow in the concrete.”

I always knew systematic racism existed – it’s not so easy to turn a blind eye as that. I always knew I was privileged by being born White. But I have realized, in no small part thanks to this novel, that recognizing that, even publicly acknowledging that, is not enough anymore. It was never enough.

This is an extremely well-written and heartfelt story about a young Black girl finding her voice. A story written from the perspective of and by someone who understands what it means to be Black in America. It is poignant, thoughtful, and a necessary read.

“You can destroy wood and brick, but you can’t destroy a movement.”

Have you read The Hate U Give? Watched the movie?

What were your thoughts?

Let me know!

Liza is a twenty-something book blogger who spends way too much time with her nose in books and feels way too much. She loves cooking, baking, reality tv show watching and, of course, reading. She can be found most often with a cup of tea in one hand and a book in the other. Her blog, Literary Liza, features bookish content like reviews, recommendations, and author interviews.

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