CBR11 Bingo: Own Voices.
This is the best book I’ve read all year. And considering that it’s been read by 28 other Cannonballers, that shouldn’t be too surprising.
Starr Carter goes to a largely white private school, but lives in the poor, largely black, community of Garden Heights. While at a friend’s party, she runs into childhood friend (and first boyfriend), Khalil. He’s selling drugs now, a fact which disappoints and confuses her because of how drugs have ravaged his mother. The party is broken up by gunfire, and Khalil and Starr escape together. While driving her home, Khalil is pulled over by a white police officer and….well. I’m sure you can imagine the tragedy that follows.
I knew nothing about this book prior to reading it apart from the fact that it was popular. I didn’t even know it had been made into a movie. And I’m incredibly thankful that I went into this book blind.
I doubt I can add anything to the discussion that’s already taken place around this book, given how late I am to the party, but I can’t praise Angie Thomas enough for her writing. Her characters are fully realized, and have depth. I found the relationship between Starr and her boyfriend Chris to be a bit maudlin – but they’re teenagers. Teenagers, almost by definition, are pretty mawkish.
The center of this book is the murder of a young black man by a white cop, which is a subject that should be familiar to anyone who’s been in America over the last decade (or ever, really, depending on how much attention you’re paying). If the trauma of decades worth of repressed anger at the heavy handed violence of the criminal justice system in black communities can be encapsulated in a 400 page young adult novel, I can’t imagine it being done more perfectly than Angie Thomas does here.