Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Published: 2017
Source: Local Library

Summary: Starr is in the car when her friend Khalil is pulled over for a broken taillight as he's driving her home from a party. The next thing she knows, Khalil is dying on the street in front of her, shot in the back three times by the policeman who pulled them over.

Starr's heard this story before - Michael Brown, Tamir Rice, Philando Castile, and too many others to count. She's always thought she would be front and center, advocating for justice. But when she's in the middle of it, when the complexities of her school life, her family, and her neighborhood are intersecting with the news stories of an innocent boy's death, all her firm resolutions suddenly seem like soap bubbles. What's the right thing to do?

First Impressions: My god this was so good. It's about the murder of Khalil, but it's also about how Starr navigates her identity as a young black woman in several worlds and how she can reconcile those worlds, and how sometimes, they can't be reconciled.

Later On: This draft has been sitting in my Google Docs since June 2017, when I first read this book. Part of the reason it's been so hard to write a review (other than my overall difficulty blogging last year) was that this has gotten so much attention, and it seems like everyone has already said all the things I feel about this book.

What made it such an incredible and affecting book for me was how immersive it is. There are some books that feel like they're being told to you. You're standing at a distance like it's a news report. This is a book that positions you right behind Starr's eyes, and everything that happens and everything she feels about it all feels close enough to touch.

There's the horror of witnessing Khalil's senseless death, and the helplessness you feel along with Starr, knowing it's unlikely that his murderer will answer for the crime.

But there's also Starr at school, and the mask she puts on to fit in among her (mainly) white and well-off classmates. You feel the distance between herself and her friends and boyfriend, who don't understand the devastation she feels because it's not a part of their experience. Some of them are still able to be there for her, and some aren't.

There's Starr existing in her community, the richness and interconnectedness of her life and relationships. She loves her family and her friends and her neighborhood, but also feels conflicted because she wants to leave.

Finally, there's the fear about speaking out, about stepping forward and putting a target on herself, and the courage she has to muster to do it anyway.

I'll be seeing the movie when it comes out.

More: Forever Young Adult
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