TITLE: The Hate U Give
AUTHOR: Angie Thomas
RELEASED: February 2017; Balzer + Bray
GENRE: YA Contemporary
KEY INFO: YA leadership, black lives matter, activism, finding your voice and speaking out
REPRESENTATION: woman of colour MC, people of colour
CONTENT WARNINGS: police violence, on-page murder of an unarmed young black man, racism, microaggressions
You can destroy wood and brick, but you can’t destroy a movement.
What can I even say about The Hate U Give? It was stunning, emotional, hard-hitting, powerful, a modern day classic. It deserves every piece of acclaim it received in 2017, every single award it won, a movie deal, and the title of ‘The Book of 2017′.
Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, THUG articulately captures the complexity of such a movement. Anger. Heart-rending grief. Joy. Fear. Disgust. Hurt. Love. Angie Thomas takes all of this, breaks it down, and displays it for all to see… plain as day. Told from the point of view of 16-year-old Starr Carter as her life is thrown into tumult after she witnesses the murder of one of her closest friends, Khalil Harris, by a police officer, THUG shows the heartbreakingly ugly reality of racism in America in a way that really puts it into perspective for readers.
Khalil Harris – an unarmed 16-year-old black male is killed in front of Starr after being pulled over by a white police officer and is shot three times for having a hairbrush in his car door that looked like a gun. Starr struggles to speak out for fear of her safety and the safety of her family but finds that, with the support of others, she is able to tell the real story of what happened that night, that Khalil was not aggressive towards the police officer, that he was unarmed, that they weren’t doing anything wrong – just driving home, in the hopes that by doing so she could bring the police officer to justice.
“People like us in situations like this become hashtags, but they rarely get justice. I think we all wait for that one time though, that one time when it ends right. Maybe…”
Unfortunately, like Trayvon Martin, Jordan Edwards, Eric Garner, Michael Brown, Emmett Till, Tamir Rice, Sandra Bland, Alton Sterling, and so many, many others whose lives were stolen in the blink of an eye at the hands of the police, Khalil’s murderer is not brought to justice.
Favourite things about THUG:
- Starr – literally the star of the show. She’s an incredibly complex character full of love, grief, anger, fear, and anxiety. Angie’s incredibly writing really comes through in her depiction of Starr’s character – when she laughs, you laugh; when she cries, you cry; when she rages, you went to tear the roof off of your own house. She experiences such internal conflicts over what’s “right”. Is she acting too black for her white school friends, and/or too white for her black friends and family? Should she speak up as a witness to the murder of her friend and fight for justice or should she blend into the background for fear of retribution against her family? A heart-breaking depiction of struggles for people of colour in the States.
- Starr’s family – especially her dad! Maverick Carter, Big Mav, is the boss of all bosses and I adore him. It’s not too often that you come across such loving and strong families in YA contemporary, and Starr’s family felt like the family that was needed not only for Starr and her community, but for YA as a whole.
- An unapologetic depiction of police brutality, racism and violence in the US. Angie never holds back but also manages to expertly balance giving the reader the realest talk whilst never giving them more than they can handle at once. Honestly, I could talk all day about how outstanding Angie Thomas is as a writer but you need to go and experience it for yourself.
As a white reviewer, there are much, much better reviews than I will ever be able to write about The Hate U Give and I would really encourage you to go read some reviews written by reviewers of colour. All that I can say is that you will not regret reading THUG. It’s characters, plot, flawless writing, and message make THUG a stunningly dynamic, engaging must-read for everyone all over the world.
Please check out the Black Lives Matter website, twitter, and consider donating to them if you want to provide any financial contribution to this review. Keep tweeting, keep amplifying, keep speaking out about these injustices.