Sunday, March 26, 2017

Staff Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas has been one of the most highly anticipated debut novels of 2017, and it's a YA novel at that. Don't let that deter you from reading it, though, because it has a powerful message that everyone should hear. This novel has been billed as "inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement" and comes out of the We Need Diverse Books and #OwnVoices campaigns. It's timely and relatable; in turns funny and sad.

16 year old Starr Carter lives a double life. Half of her time is spent in her mostly white, rich, suburban private school, and the other half is spent in the poor, black neighborhood she grew up in. Her friends from school (especially her white boyfriend, Chris) will never truly understand her family or the people from her neighborhood, so she keeps them separate. Starr thinks she has found balance between these two lives, until she witnesses her childhood friend Khalil being fatally shot by a police officer. Everyone wants to know what really happened that night, and Starr is the only person who can tell that story.

As the case becomes a national headline, the pressure is on Starr. She has to decide between doing what's right by Khalil, and keeping herself and her family safe. Her feelings about her neighborhood, the police force, and her friends at school, are all challenged.

I loved this book. It didn't feel like a lecture about compassion, but the message came across just the same. Personally, this was the best YA book I've read so far this year, and I don't think anything is going to top it. As a reader, you relate to Starr no matter what your skin color is, or where you grew up. Starr is real; she is someone you want to be friends with. Even the side characters like Starr's boyfriend Chris, her police detective Uncle Carlos, her friend Kenya, and Starr's parents are all fully realized characters. Thomas's writing is masterful.

John Green had this to say about The Hate U Give: “Angie Thomas has written a stunning, brilliant, gut-wrenching novel that will be remembered as a classic of our time.”

I couldn't agree more.

-Libby, Youth Services

If you like The Hate U Give, check out:

All American Boys by Jason Reynolds
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
Black and White by Paul Volponi
Monster by Walter Dean Myers
Rest in Power by Sybrina Fulton and Tracy Martin

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