by: Angie Thomas
Review by: Olubunmi
Angie Thomas’ “The Hate U Give” is a compelling read that addresses and delves deep into the issue of police brutality against the black community. The realistic-fiction novel ventures into the the life of Starr Carter, who inhabits two different worlds within her community. She goes to a suburban prep-school in a predominantly white neighborhood with mostly white friends, and comes home to what her friends would call the “ghetto.” Where she grew up is the black community away from the suburbs where gangs, drug-use, and drug-dealing is rampant. Starr teeters between the two worlds and develops two different identities; though the balance between the two comes to a head when her childhood best friend, Khalil, is shot in front of her by a white police officer.
This story is in an authentic voice of a black teenage girl in the 21st Century as she traverses through her daily life, dealing mentally and physically with the disturbances that seem to occur more and more after Khalil’s death. Starr’s voice is incredibly relatable whether she talks about her favorite series (Harry Potter), or how she sees the white world she goes to school in.
The book works through racism on a very personal level, and puts the raw feeling of not just being black, but being human on the table. Thomas has mastered the teenage voice and perspective, and dishes out themes that will remind of Bildungsroman with a side of social justice. As Starr explains her world through her eyes, her story unfolds heart wrenchingly from the beginning to the end.
Upon first impression I was automatically drawn to the book because my interests lied in line with the subject. But the story is more than just social justice and self-discovery, it’s about a girl who finds her voice while withstanding her environment that seems to be in turmoil. I was in awe at how issues of blended and low income families were so accurately portrayed and how the simple element of “not talking about it” says enough to give the reader an idea of what the situation is truly like. As a African-American living in the same world she does, I felt understood. Starr is the typical black teenager, which makes her story so captivating and eye-opening.
The struggles she goes through do not belong to select teenagers, but to many more that we as a society do not even ask to see or hear. The reality of the society we live in is both grave and hopeful. Too many times members of the black community are murdered for nonsensical reasons, and the black community is seen as an island all its own.
“The Hate U Give” addresses the gap with this: “This is exactly what They expect you to do,” Momma says. They with a capital T. There’s Them and then there’s Us. Sometimes They look like Us and don’t recognize They are Us.”