Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas (UK edition)

Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Genre: Contemporary, Social Realism, Young Adult
Publisher: Walker Books (6th April 2017)

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and the posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

Rating: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (5 stars)

THE HATE U GIVE is Angie Thomas’s debut novel. It tells the story of sixteen-year-old Starr who lives with her family in a place called Garden Heights; it’s a poor neighbourhood with a strong community. Starr and her brothers don’t attend the local school; instead they travel to a posh high school in the suburbs. This means that Starr lives something of a double life, so she can fit into both worlds. The balance is destroyed when Starr is coming home from a party with her best friend Khalil and they are pulled over by a police officer, and she witnesses him shoot and kill her unarmed best friend.

To be honest I can’t remember how I stumbled across this book, whether it was because there was a lot of talk about it within the young adult book blogging and vlogging communities, or whether it was because of the Black Lives Matter movement, or through the We Need Diverse Books campaign. THE HATE U GIVE is a book that has been very much talked about and, from what I’ve seen, praised. It had me curious about whether it could live up to its reputation. I also thought it was kind of cool that its title spells the word ‘thug’. To me that clever usage of the title said that Thomas had put a lot of thought into this book, and I was curious what she had to say.

To begin with I found THE HATE U GIVE quite a difficult book to get into. I was very much aware that I was an outsider looking into a world I didn’t know and I didn’t understand, but the further I read the more I fell into Starr’s story and her world. With this book Thomas creates a really interesting and compelling window into Starr’s world. The story is incredibly moving – it sounds clichéd but, it honestly made me laugh and cry (though not at the same time) – and brilliantly told – I picked the book up and finished it the same day.

Writing a review for this book is hard. It’s hard to form coherent sentences about why I think everyone should pick this book up and give it a try. At its simplest level, THE HATE U GIVE is a story about doing the right thing. It’s also much more complicated and nuanced than that. It’s a story about fighting for what you believe in. It’s a story about grief and anger. It’s a story about finding your place in the world. It’s a tragedy. It’s a love story. It’s a story about gangs and violence. It’s a story about family and community. THE HATE U GIVE is made up of many different stories, all of them important and together they create a beautiful and complex whole.

THE HATE U GIVE is a book that deserves everybody talking about it. Starr is a complex, flawed and very real narrator. This book really illustrates how casual and pervasive racism can be (and is) and how it influences people’s lives. Don’t put off reading this book because of the hype, if you do you’ll miss out on an interesting and complex dialogue about a very real subject.

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