Wow! Just wow! This book really lived up to the hype. How is this a debut? Not only is this probably the best YA book of the year, it’s probably one of the best books of any genre. An instant favorite for me. I can’t say enough about it.
This book is intense. I think it should be required reading in all high schools. Yes, I know there is a lot of swearing. But let’s be honest. Kids hear it in school every single day. They hear worse. So please get past that. As a parent, I would have let my daughter read this in school. I would have encouraged it.
The Hate U Give is about a sixteen year old girl named Starr. I loved her so much. Starr lives in The Gardens which is an inner city filled with gangs and shootings all the time. Her dad used to be in a gang and spent three years in jail while she was young. He was one of the few that was able to get out and he wanted better for his kids. Starr saw her best friend get shot and die right in front of her when she was ten. After that, her mom convinced her dad to put the kids in a private school forty five minutes away. Starr is one of the few black kids in that school. Because of this, she convinces herself to be two Starrs. The Starr at Williamson speaks properly and is always worried about being too ghetto. She’s dating a white boy, Chris, and keeps her two lives separate.
“I’ve taught myself to speak with two different voices and only say certain things around certain people. I’ve mastered it.”
“I never know which Starr I should be. I can use some slang, but not too much slang, some attitude, but not too much attitude, so I’m not a “sassy black girl.” I have to watch what I say and how I say it, but I can’t sound “white.” Shit”
Starr meets up with an old friend, Khalil. A shooting breaks out during this party and Khalil and Starr leave in his car. A cop ends up pulling them over and shoots Khalil right in front of Starr. Khalil was unarmed and was just checking on Starr to make sure she was ok.
“Starr-Starr, you do whatever they tell you to do,” he said. “Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.”
I won’t pretend to know much about cities and gang life. I was born in the midwest. A white farm town. But this book made me want to do something. It made me angry and sad. It’s just that powerful.
The rest of the book is about what happens after the shooting. Starr must decide if she is brave enough to speak out. She wants justice, but also knows there hardly ever is. She finds herself torn between her two very different worlds. We also see how her family struggles along with others in the community.
“I’ve seen it happen over and over again: a black person gets killed just for being black, and all hell breaks loose. I’ve Tweeted RIP hashtags, reblogged pictures on Tumblr, and signed every petition out there. I always said that if I saw it happen to somebody, I would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down.
Now I am that person, and I’m too afraid to speak.”
This is such an important story. It covers black lives matter and 2 Pac. But it’s so much more. It’s a story about family, community, love, poverty, gang life, friendship, and activism. It’s about having a voice and making a difference.
I’m not doing this justice with my review. Just please go read this book.