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.
Wow, wow, wow….. Easily the best book published in 2017! The praise and the hype surrounding this particular book are huge and, trust me, it’s absolutely worth it. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give is a gut-wrenching, brilliant, inspiring and inspired novel, one that – I hope – will be considered a true classic of our time.
My only concern going into this was if Thomas would manage to create three-dimensional, authentic, and loveable characters, whilst at the same time delivering a very powerful message. I was worried that her characters and their personalities would be sacrificed to highlight the importance of the story and its political nature. Fortunately, I needn’t worry. Thomas did not only create characters that are real, funny, relatable and easy to love; the dynamics and the relationships were one of the best parts of her debut novel. Starr and her relationship with her parents, her brothers, her friends and her boyfriend were a joy to read about.
At this point, I feel like I should talk about Thomas’ talent. Because, boy can this woman write! I’m not even going to mention her beautiful pacing, way of storytelling, and the creation of a cast of characters that seem to jump out the pages of the book and take human form right in front of your eyes. Instead I am going to talk about her authenticity, her honesty and her way of depicting human emotions. Her book is inspired by one of the most important political movements right now and she manages to highlight the importance of it without ever losing her creativity and her talent. Her descriptions of Starr’s emotions were so powerful, so beautifully written, that I found myself crying like a baby over a boy who died in the first 30 pages – and one that I knew was going to die just from reading the synopsis. She never uses Khalil’s death for shock value; her sensitivity and delicacy shine throughout her novel.
THUG deals with so many important issues without ever being preachy or boring; from institutionalized racism, to micro-aggressions, from police brutality to the public’s indifference towards the deaths of black people, from using social media to spread a message to interracial relationships…. See where I’m getting at? Thomas deals with all these things so wonderfully that they are seamlessly woven into her stories and her characters’ lives and they never feel “irrelevant” to the story. They are never just there; they never feel like she crammed them into her story to make it more powerful; they are there because they belong.
I believe that The Hate U Give will forever change YA literature. It’s a smart, funny, touching, brilliant book, that discusses and tackles issues of today’s society. It provides the representation we so desperately needs, it’s a voice that had not been heard yet. It’s every bit as perfect as it’s rumoured to be. It’s what we need right now; a hopeful, powerful book to uplift our spirits and make us raise our voices. So yeah, if you’re only going to read one book this year, make it this one.
Khalil, I’ll never forget.
I’ll never give up.
I’ll never be quiet.