“This is tragically timely, hard-hitting, and an ultimate prayer for change. Don’t look away from this searing battle for justice. Rally with Starr.”
NO MAJOR SPOILERS
The Hate U Give takes its name from Tupac’s interpretation of the meaning of THUG LIFE. Angie Thomas writes, “The Hate U – the letter U – Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody. T-H-U-G L-I-F-E. Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out.”
The novel’s narrator is sixteen-year-old Starr Carter and Thomas uses American slang throughout to make Starr, her friends and her family highly realistic characters that readers can relate to.
Starr lives in Garden Heights in America – a poor, predominately black neighbourhood dominated by gang wars and drug dealing. Torn between her neighbourhood that feels like her family and the predominately white school her parents send her and her brothers to, Starr feels like she has to present her personality in two very different ways. This precarious balance of her life portrays the struggles young people face when it comes to identity.
When she attends a party in her neighbourhood things soon turn dark when a police officer shoots Starr’s childhood friend, Khalil, to death and she is the only witness to this heart-breaking and fatal incident. Starr’s testimony is the only thing that can get justice for Khalil but in an area where speaking up or ‘snitching’ is frowned upon, Starr has to fight for the bravery to speak up and understand how important it is to use your voice.
While the story of Khalil’s death is a work of fiction, the novel ends with a list of names of real-life people, shot or killed just because of their race. The Black Lives Matter campaign was a strong influence for Thomas, who initially wrote The Hate U Give as a short story as a cathartic way to vent some of her anger and emotions.
Angie Thomas’ The Hate U Give is a brilliantly powerful YA novel which shows the harsh reality of prejudice and racism in the 21st Century. It also explores the pitfalls of the American criminal justice system and the terrifying reality of police brutality. An emotional, heart-rending and tear-inducing tale, Starr’s story is well-written, provocative, and gripping right to the end.
Catherine Muxworthy, Booksbirdblog
Added 5th February 2019