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Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: 2017
Summary: Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. Everyone wants to know what really went down that night, and Starr is the only person who can answer that question.
This is America
I both loved and hated this book for the same reason. It spoke truth to power and provided insight to many aspects of the current state of black American life. I loved Angie Thomas’ unflinching narrative, but the book left me in tears. The pain, suffering, discrimination, and even death that Starr, Khalil, and Maverick experienced reflect the lives and sudden deaths of the Tamirs, the Sandras, the Altons, and the Rekias of America and the loved ones they left behind. This story has been the talk of the book world since its release and has deserved all the awards and praises it has received, but it leaves me with little hope, even with The Hate U Give being on the reading lists for many middle and high school students, that society will ever change for the better. When I look at some of the responses to the novel, I see there are people who just don’t want to get it. It’s angry and infuriating to read a book that speaks so much truth about your life and existence and to see people who have never and will never live such an experience dismiss it as hogwash.
The Mirror Has Two Faces
I definitely related to Starr putting on a façade during her time at Williamson Prep because she doesn’t want to be the stereotype of the hood black girl. It is something that I also struggled with as a teenager when I was often the only black face in a white space. For lots of black Americans, we are only allowed to be our truest self in the comfort of our own homes and among our family and closest friends. In order to survive in the country that was built for our demise, double consciousness is essential. Having a frenemy like Hailey also doesn’t help Starr to be her truest self because Hailey is the type of person who makes racially insensitive remarks and gets offended when called out because for her, being labeled a racist is worse than actually being racist. With situations like these, it is not surprising that Starr was hesitant in sharing how she was dealing with her involvement in the police shooting to her “friends” at Williamson. At least her boyfriend, Chris, was around to be part of her support system. Now, I definitely know why that first guy who played Chris in the movie had to go. In a story like this, a person who makes racist remarks against black people can’t play the love interest for a young black girl.
Even though the book world has been raving about this book since its debut, I put off reading it because I knew it would affect me to my core. I knew I would eventually read it, but the movie release sped up my reading schedule and put it on the top of my TBR List. I was interested in Angie Thomas’s take on the Black Lives Matter movement, and I wanted to see if the book lived up to the hype for me because sometimes the book that everyone loves doesn’t hit me the same (ahem … The Book Thief). This book without a doubt lived up to all of the praise it has received. The story is steeped in realness that had me smiling, laughing, and definitely crying.
Carpe Librum: This book should be a must read both inside and outside of the classroom for everyone to have an insight into an aspect of being black in America. It is also an excellent opportunity for young black people to read a contemporary story that centers them as the hero.
So…have you read The Hate U Give? Are you excited about Angie Thomas’s next book? Let us know in the comments! |RL
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