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The Hate U Give

Review

The Hate U Give

To everyone at her school with a predominantly white population, Starr is the cool African American girl who is part of a semi-athletic group of friends, and has a sweet, yet oblivious boyfriend. That’s about all they know about her. They don’t know that she lives across town in Garden Heights, an area that’s known as the ghetto. Basically, she’s a part of two polar opposite communities, and Starr has to put on a different face for each one.

At school, she worries about her attitude and her actions, which in the wrong light could place her in the stereotype of the “angry black woman." At home, she’s ridiculed for losing her roots. Her two lives have always been separate, until she takes a ride home with her friend Khalil in Garden Heights, when they’re pulled over by a cop. With both of them unarmed, Khalil is taken out of the car, without a clear reason why. While they wait for the cop to return to the car, Khalil moves toward Starr in the car to check on her, and is shot dead. Being the only witness to Khalil’s brutal murder, Starr must decide if she’s willing to have her two worlds collide in a fight for justice.

"I am telling you right now, go read THE HATE U GIVE, and let it sit with you. Think about it everyday. Tell your friends about it. Read it once, twice, or three times. This is a story you need to know, and a situation you need to be aware of."

Before I start this review, it’s important for you to know the point of view I’m writing from. I am a girl who is completely of European descent, and am white. Because of that, I have a huge amount of white privilege in our society. I have never experienced the consequences of a racial remark or action toward me, and I’ve never had to worry about police brutality directed at me, a reality for so many minorities. In itself, reading THE HATE U GIVE was a privilege. I was able to just read about a situation like Starr’s, and didn’t have to experience it.

I would like to say that I was shocked when I read the outrageous injustices in Starr and Khalil’s story, but I wasn’t. In the years that I’ve finally started to become aware of social issues, I have read stories like Trayvon Martin, who was my age when he was murdered by a neighborhood watch guard for carrying a pack of candy at night, or Eric Garner, who was strangled to death during an arrest because he was selling cigarettes on the street. Those are just two of the hundreds of African Americans killed by authoritative figures in recent years, let alone in all of history.     

Starr was one of the most incredible woman that I have ever read in literature, and I would’ve said the same thing if she decided not to pursue the action she took. She constantly showed a track record of standing up for social injustices, and wasn’t afraid to call out someone who was in the wrong. At the same time, she was very aware of the racial construct in the two societies she lived in. From what I observed, she also had a pretty great bond with her family. Both of her siblings were protective of her in the same way she was protective to them.

I also really enjoyed how Angie Thomas worked at breaking down the cycle of poverty, and how it connects to violence, drugs and gangs. Right now, I think that a lot of outlets feed on demonizing anyone who is a victim of police brutality, exploiting any negative background knowledge about them. THE HATE U GIVE brings back their humanity by looking at several situations of people who are just trying to get through life and protect their family, even if their decisions might be dangerous.

Lastly, it’s important to say that in no way is this book anti-cop, and neither is the Black Lives Movement, which plays a huge role in THE HATE U GIVE. Rather, this book highlights the fact that there are fantastic cops and cops who abuse their power. In fact, Starr’s uncle, who is very influential in her life, is a cop, and constantly is a reminder to Starr that while there is evil, there is also good. On a side note, this book explores the complex actions and thoughts that feed into riots, and whether riots are effective or not.

I am telling you right now, go read THE HATE U GIVE, and let it sit with you. Think about it everyday. Tell your friends about it. Read it once, twice, or three times. This is a story you need to know, and a situation you need to be aware of. Most importantly, I urge you to become active in the fight for justice, because when there is injustice anywhere, there is injustice everywhere.

Reviewed by Reanna H., Teen Board Member on March 31, 2017

The Hate U Give
by Angie Thomas