Reviews

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Publisher: Walker Books
Publication Date: April 2017
Rating:  ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ .5
Goodreads

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. 

I hate to say what almost every single review of this book has said, but I’d rather say it now than talk about it at length. This book is important. I’ve used it to describe books before and I’m kind of getting sick of it. It does it’s job, but at the same time, is that all this story is good for? Of course not. Stories are important, of course, but I don’t think people should feel like they have to read it because it’s important. It should be read to have a better understanding of what’s going on in the U.S. today, and why it needs be written about.

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source: goodreads

I loved The Hate U Give, for many reasons, but none of them were because this book is important.

I loved this book because it was different. I love looking for new stories to devour that aren’t the same old same old that we see cover the shelves at Waterstones. This was a story that I had only seen in the news; twisted and manipulated by the media to only show us one perspective. While this story is a work of fiction, it’s very real and and no doubt accurate. It was a change, and refreshing.

I loved this book because it was entertaining. I loved Starr’s family dynamic and the relationships she had with her parents, her siblings, her boyfriend, and her friends. The community she lives in that, while riddled with crime and neglected, still gave me a warm, familial feel that showed us that family stretched further than the walls of your house. Starr’s personality shone from the page, even when she was going through such devastating events. She wasn’t a ‘strong female character’, she was a real female character.

I loved this book because of the impact it will have. As a white woman who hasn’t even set foot in the U.S., I’ve seen my fair share of black stereotypes, and often it was odd for me to read depictions and passages and dialogue and not think it racist. I think, if this were written by anyone else, it would have been deemed questionable, but you cannot question the experiences of a black person about black culture. This was one depiction, but it was a true and experienced depiction (obviously not word for word, The Hate U Give isn’t an autobiography). But the thing is, I was thinking about it along the lines of ‘white people are going to read this and think all black people talk/act like this in this ‘ghetto way’ oh no’. But to be honest, this book isn’t really for them if they’re going to read it and come away with that rather than any of the other very explicit messages in this story. And plus, this story was written to inform yes, but mainly, to represent. There are so many young POC who love to read and yet all they get to read about are people they cannot relate to, about people who wouldn’t listen to them if they tried to share their story. So to have The Hate U Give depict one of the frank and honest and accurate depictions of being black in the U.S. today to black teens who are living this shit is by far a better thought to come away with than what white people may think about it.

You may be wondering why I’ve only given it 4.5 stars after raving about it for so long. I’ve literally just taken away half a star just because this wasn’t a book that I was glued to. I was easily taken out of the story because a lot of the dialogue I had to go back and read because I wasn’t sure if I’d ingested it correctly. I’ve had this with other books before that are either written with a dialect or even in phonetic speech (damn you Trainspotting!) and so that was a pain. But thankfully, it didn’t take away from the story and I was still able to enjoy despite being a slow reader!

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  1. BriennaiJ

    December 27, 2017 at 6:10 pm

    Great review! I’m glad that even people from countries other than the us can enjoy this book and see its meaning.

  2. vanessawolfe

    December 27, 2017 at 6:28 pm

    Ahhh as a POC I was actually afraid of this book because people would think this spoke for the black experience as a whole but then I realized people understand that this is a snapshot of life for certain blacks in certain communities.

  3. bestmermaid

    December 27, 2017 at 9:48 pm

    Great review! I have to agree with what BriennaiJ commented. It’s incredible to see this book (and the issues it shares) reaching beyond the US. It seems obvious but it didn’t even cross my mind what people in other countries think about these issues, how they view the US as a whole because of them. But I’m glad people in different countries care enough to read this book.

    I understand what you mean with the language, it slowed me down a lot too while I was reading it but I can’t imagine it respresenting her characters well if she changed it. I really enjoyed this book too. I was drawn to it because I wanted something different and happened to see it on twitter. I instantly fell in love with the plot. Not going to lie, I was afraid to dive into it because I knew it was going to feel real. It hit so many emotions at once (anger and sadness mostly). I also agree with Vanessawolfe, I was worried people would miss the message and just focus on the way some characters spoke.

    Sidenote – I can’t wait to see what they do with the film. ^_^

    1. hollie (hollieblog)

      December 27, 2017 at 9:54 pm

      Yes! It’s so successful in the UK right now! And despite the story being very US-centric, it’s still a globally talked about topic and I think it’s great that it’s message can be heard all over the world.

      Yes I agree! I’m like that with all books where the protagonist speaks with an accent or in a dialect on the page, bc my brain tries to hear it properly and focuses on it too much 😂 but it wouldn’t have been the same without it either!

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