The hype gets it right yet again.
I avoided reading Angie Thomas’s debut novel until two days before it was the borrow expired (despite waiting over three months for my turn in the queue). I had heard great things about the book, but some days I’m not up for taking a book-driven tour through the dark places. And the blurb of this one is dark.
Just in case you don’t know the plot summary: Starr Carter is a typical high school junior. She plays on her high school basketball team, helps out in her father’s store, has a great boyfriend that she hasn’t told her overprotective father about. She also juggles two lives, her “ghetto” life and her affluent private school life. One night, on the way home from a party with an old friend she hadn’t seen in a while, a traffic stop goes bad. Her friend is shot and killed by a police officer. Starr struggles to find a way forward because obviously the world will never be the same.
I hope none of them ask about my spring break. They went to Taipei, the Bahamas, Harry Potter World. I stayed in the hood and saw a cop kill my friend.
Once I actually dove in, the book pulled me all the way in. Starr’s story is compelling and emotional and rich. Thomas achieves a rare feat in The Hate U Give: she writes a teenage character who feels real and three-dimensional. Starr loves her family even as they fight with one another. Everyone’s right even when they’re on opposite sides of an issue.
There are no simple answers for Starr, just as there aren’t here in the real world. The book doesn’t talk down to the reader with easy platitudes. We get to feel Starr’s discomfort right along with her. And while Starr’s situation is unlikely to end well, ultimately Thomas suffuses the story with hope and heart. It’s absolutely gorgeous.
Read it, please. Pay full price. Buy two copies and share with someone who will read it.