Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Walker Books
Release Date: February 28th 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 her 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.
– Blurb courtesy of goodreads.com
My Thoughts On…
Chances are you’ve heard about The Hate U Give before, simply because this is a book everyone has been talking about recently. Driving home one evening, with her best friend at the wheel, Starr and Khalil find themselves stopped by the police. Starr knows what to do in this situation, her parents having discussed with her how to act, but Khalil doesn’t, and as he leans down to check on Starr he’s shot three times. Starr is the only witness to her best friend’s death, scared and shaken she finds the gun pointed on her as Khalil bleeds out on the side of the road.
Starr is well aware of all the unlawful deaths that have occurred at the hands of the police. She’s always believed that if she was ever in that situation she would not be silenced, she would speak the loudest to get the justice the victim sorely deserves. However finding herself in that situation is a very different thing all together. She’s terrified, not just because of what could happen to her but what could happen to her family, fearing repercussions from the local gang lord and even the police themselves if she steps forwards as the witness.
As Starr struggles with what she witnesses she tries to keep one small part of her life normal. For her friends and her boyfriend Starr is a very different version of herself, and it’s a version where a dead best friend doesn’t fit. However in Garden Heights the people who Starr and Khalil grew up with are tired of the injustice and want to see something done, even if it means taking matters into their own hands.
When I picked up The Hate U Give I thought I knew what to expect from this book. The blurb pretty much gave me the whole story, and with what everyone’s been saying about it I thought I knew what this book would be. I was wrong, but in the very best way. The Hate U Give is a moving and emotional book with such an important message. Angie Thomas doesn’t gloss over any of the hard-to-read facts, instead she tells a powerful story of the injustices that are currently happening.
Starr may only be sixteen but the streets she’s lived on have forced her to grow up fast. Already she has witnesses two of her best friends killed, the only difference now with Khalil is she has the power to speak and try to get justice for him. However Starr is scared; when she was younger, alongside the birds and the bees talk, Starr got the talk about how she should act if she was ever stopped by the police and all she wants to do is hide from what happened.
Still despite being terrified of the repercussions that will come her way, from both the police and the local gang lord, Starr knows she needs to speak out for Khalil, to tell the world his side of the story. Starr’s development throughout this story was wonderfully written, she never fully stops being scared, but she does what she knows is right despite that.
Even though he is killed at the beginning of the story Khalil is as much of a main character as Starr is. After his death Khalil is turned into a thug by the police; someone who dealt drugs, ran with gangs, and in their eyes is not a great loss to society. However in Starr’s eyes and in the eyes of his family Khalil is so much more than that. He was a real person, not a thug, someone they loved and someone who they miss more than they can say now he’s gone.
The first quote I featured in this review is an accurate way to describe Khalil’s character. He becomes a hashtag for the world outside of Garden Heights but through Starr’s eyes we see more than the hashtag, we see the person, both the good and the bad.
The secondary characters are just as well written as Starr and Khalil, and really do add to the story. Starr has an incredibly close knit family, and though they’re not perfect they love one another. Her parents support her no matter what her decision may be. While her mother may want to protect Starr from the world she stands by daughter no matter the danger, and it’s Starr’s father who convinces her to make her voice heard. Starr’s boyfriend Chris is also there for her in his own way, even if it’s just offering her something normal to lean. It was also amazing to read about Starr’s friendship with Maya and Hailey, which was amazingly developed and everything I love to see in YA books.
The Hate U Give isn’t just a story that revolves around Starr witnessing her best friend’s death, it’s a story about everything that happens in between the shooting and the grand jury’s decision. Life goes on for Starr but it’s a very different life. This is a story about justice and the lives that have been lost so far, it’s a story that is so important and so worth reading. Every amazing thing you’ve heard about The Hate U Give is true and I highly highly recommend this book.
What did you think of The Hate U Give? Was it a favourite of yours or could you just not get into the story? Let me know.