As you all know, I’ve been trying to expand my diverse books knowledge, and The Chancellor recommended a few that he thought would be great companion pieces to one of my new YA favorites, All American Boys. I’ve already read and reviewed Kekla Magoon’s How It Went Down, and today, I finished Angie Thomas’s extraordinary debut, The Hate U Give.
The novel begins when our protagonist Starr witnesses her childhood best friend Khalil being shot by a police officer while she sits in the passenger seat, stunned, too afraid to move. Khalil was unarmed and pulled over for a “tail light.” If you are a minority in the United States or keep up with the news, you know this story by now. Starr is already caught between two worlds: her urban neighborhood, where she has lived her whole life, but is plagued by gang wars and lack of opportunity; and the preppy world of her predominantly white school, where she has a scholarship. Starr struggles to make sense of the shooting, her information of the crime, and how and with whom she can share it. She realizes that she must do right by Khalil, her family, and herself, but she wonders how, when she knows the way the justice system often stacks the deck.
This is a fantastic novel. Thomas creates a sympathetic and complex protagonist, in that this story also serves as a sort of coming-of-age for Starr, or at least a moment of enlightenment within the bildungsroman genre. The writing also builds the world of the Gardens effectively—you can sense Starr’s neighborhood and colliding worlds, and you become immersed in them. Finally, the emotional stakes are high. Thomas does not sugarcoat anything that happens, and she doesn’t give a sense of false hope. It’s crushing and uplifting at once. I highly recommend this book, and I’ll be on the lookout for Thomas’s next work.
Cross-posted on my blog.