BOOK REVIEW | THE HATE U GIVE BY ANGIE THOMAS (SPOILER-FREE)

May 28, 2018

Y'all.

We need to talk about this book, so I'm gonna skip the intros and get right into it.

(I'm writing this at 3 AM, so bear with me).


Synopsis
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.

Plot
WOW.

I came into this book not knowing much of how this story was going to be told, and to say I was pleasantly impressed is an understatement. Angie Thomas does an incredible job of telling the story of a young girl witnessing her best friend getting killed by a cop, but also the story of a young girl experiencing all the emotions, trials, and tribulations that come as a result of that traumatic night.

The pacing was spot on, each part of the book given the right amount of detail and never once felt rushed or dragged out. One thing that I loved so much about this book was the use of the title in the actual story. Most books that I've read use the title of the book as a one-liner within the story, and that's it. Sometimes it leaves an impact, but often times it's forgotten or underwhelming in comparison to other powerful phrases. This book was not like that though. The title, The Hate U Give, was the center of the book and made it's presence known multiple times throughout the story, each time more powerful than the other. The more the title's name was mentioned, as well as the MEANING behind it, the stronger it meant to the overall story. It's consistency throughout the story made me believe that its purpose was meant for more than just being the title of the book, but the main theme and carrier of the plot.

Characters
Starr. I am in love with her. Everything about her, I love. I love how observing she is, how honest she is, how compassionate she is, but most importantly, I LOVE how courageous she is in times of darkness. The strength that surrounds her entire being is admirable to see. Whether she believed in herself or not didn't matter because she knew that what was happening was greater than herself. Whether she believed it or not, there was power in the words she spoke and the choices she made. Starr's character development in this book, from beginning to end, was miraculous to see. Every chapter she become stronger, braver. Starr was one of those characters that I found myself relating to more often than not. I saw her think and do things that I commonly do, and it made me question it all, just like she did. Why do I try and act different around my white friends and my black friends? Why do I have two identities, neither of them being who I truly am though? Why do I allow complete ignorant bullshit to spew from my "friends" mouths and not check them for it? Why do I follow and not lead? As Starr was able to work through her identity, so was I in a way. I found myself growing with and through her, and I loved that I was able to connect with a character like that.

The Carter Family. I have read lots of books with dysfunctional families. It's quite common and something that I'm use to reading. So, I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to see a family that isn't torn apart. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to see siblings play around with each other, but also be there for each other when shit gets real. I cannot tell you how refreshing it is to see two parents argue, but communicate through it, and not let it drive a wedge between them or their family. Every single member of the Carter family stole my heart. A present, happy and loving black family? Hell yes. And I want to see more of this, everywhere.

Writing
Although this book is a work of fiction, the writing slaps you in the face with a reality check. This story is one of many that we see on the news, on Twitter, and sometimes out in public with our very eyes. The Hate U Give is filled with truth behind every word. This book is so important because it has been our reality for so long, and it still is. As much as I laughed at the slang used, or cried at the pain felt for Khalil, or rolled my eyes for the ignorance of certain characters, the one thing this book continuously did was teach me. I'm always in awe of the power of books and their ability to teach me things that I might've not completely understood before. I bookmarked so many pages in this book because what I read spoke so deeply to me that I needed to mark it, so I could revisit it when necessary. I paused so many times while reading this book to make sure I understood what was being said or why things turned out the way they did. I didn't come into this book expecting it to teach me so many things, but I'm happy it turned out to be that way, because once I was able to put aside my own ignorance, I was able to learn things that I've too commonly turned a blind eye too. When the writing is filled with so much emotion and purpose, and in your face, you'd be a fool to not pay attention.

Final Thoughts
The Hate U Give is compelling, heart-felt, and like nothing that I've read before. I read this book in a day (and like 30 minutes of another day but still). I do not read a 444 page book in one day unless it matters, unless I know that the message it's conveying is worth my time and that it's what I need to hear. Prior to reading this book, I saw the hype it got last year and for some reason I was too uncomfortable to pick it up then. You see, I am one of those silent activists. I'm the ones that sit back during a discussion about racism or police brutality or oppression of any kind, and not make a peep.  When no one's around, I'm all in it. But when there's people watching, judging, I find it better to be quiet than to fall into someone's stereotype. So with that being said, I think I avoided this book because I was scared of the shit it was going to call me out on. I don't know what compelled me to pick this book up, but I am happy I did. Like I said earlier, more than anything, I learned. I learned that my voice is my strongest weapon, and I'd be doing a disservice to everyone, including myself, if I chose to silence it. No matter how big or how small, we all have a voice that's meant to be heard, and we all got to use it.

I am grateful that this book exists. I am grateful that Angie Thomas chose to write such a captivating novel that's won the hearts of so many people all over the world. I am grateful this book has been able to reach people and have the impact that it's had on them. If you haven't read this book, I am telling you to not only because it is a beautiful work of fiction, but because it's a truth that we're all living in and one that we are getting too comfortable living. What happened to Khalil is not normal, it is not okay. We must never forget or give up. We must always chose to speak up instead of being silent.

Rating
5 OUT OF 5 STARS

WITHOUT. A. DOUBT.

I wanna talk about this! Please feel free to voice your thoughts on The Hate U Give in the comments below, I wanna hear you!

Until next time,

k.m.

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