The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

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This is the first YA book I’ve picked up since The Hunger Games. Which I read in 2011. So, it’s been a while. Going into the book I had heard a lot of really great things so I was very eager to read it.

If you’re not familiar with this book, here is a little blurb

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.

This book takes a very current and complex issues and attempts to present it for the young adult audience. That is no easy task. This book is dealing with extremely nuanced and controversial topics. I give Thomas insane amounts of respect for taking the Black Lives Matter movement on.

Starr is a fantastic character. I really enjoyed her as our protagonist and our eyes into her world. She is conflicted and lovable. The characters around her are pretty wonderful too. There were moments in this book where I actually laughed to myself, and some relationships that I envied.

I was impressed by how many levels Thomas took on. This book isn’t just about a police shooting, it’s also about the repercussions a police shooting has on an individual and their community. Thomas is looking at internal, interpersonal, and communal struggles. While she doesn’t always hit it on the head, she is striving to show something that is rarely discussed.

I know this is an unpopular opinion, but this book just didn’t do it for me. I found the dialogue to be corny and very explanatory. There are moments in the book where the dialogue is cringe worthy. Thomas is demonstrating to her audience a lot more than she is allow us to uncover.

I felt that the audience for this book was not just young people, but more specifically young white people. It seemed as if Thomas was saying, “Hey, you’ve never thought much about police violence against black folks? Well here is a crash course. Let me blow your mind.” Honestly, I just don’t think that I’m the audience for this story. The book is an introduction, and I have spent a lot of time thinking and talking about these issues with adults and young people, so it felt underwhelming and over simplified. I didn’t feel like Thomas offered me a lot to think about, and I wasn’t impressed with the writing style.

And now, to contradict myself, you should read this book. You should. Really. The book moves quickly and is easy to read, and it is an attempt to talk about some stuff that is hard to talk about. Thats admirable and should be supported. It is a solid book, and the book itself has become a sort of cultural phenomenon. More importantly it is speaking to and about a much bigger and more important cultural crisis, and for that, you should read this book.

  • Hardcover: 464 pages
  • Publisher: Balzer + Bray; First Edition Later Printing edition (February 28, 2017)
  • 3/5 stars
  • Buy The Hate U Give on Amazon

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2 thoughts on “The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  1. Unpopular opinion, sure, but also a fair review. Toni Morrison while discussing the novel Invisible Man with Junot Diaz said “Invisible to whom? Not me.” She said that talking about how the white gaze controlled Ellison’s narrative. She, like you, wasn’t saying it was a bad novel. Just that from her perspective, the story, ironically, deemed her, the black woman, invisible. Due to the perception of Ellison seemingly placing more value in being seen outside of his community than inside of it.

    A longwinded way of saying, I respect the perspective and great job as always!

    1. Thank you for this. I love that quote. I find myself thinking “this just isn’t made for me”. It happens all the time, and I think this book is totally that. Its a good book, no doubt. But, it wasn’t made for me, and thats ok.

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