I remember when I first finished The Hate U Give all the way back in the summer, the first thing I had to say was “wow.” I might have been absorbed by the book and the characters, but now, a few months later, I still think this book is amazing.
It’s a book about current day racism, from everyday small-scale racism to the bigger issues. The title of the book tips a hat at the 2Pac song THUGLIFE (The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody), which is played out in the book through the central event: the main character, Starr, watching her childhood best friend, Khalil, get shot by a police officer. Khalil was unarmed, African American, and had a hairbrush in the back of his car which the officer claimed to have looked like a gun. When Khalil resisted the officer, he got shot in the chest.
The book highlights the Black Lives Matters movement by portraying those who are affected by police brutality and how it’s hard to just sit back while the world seems to have sided with the person who killed versus the person who was killed.
Starr gives us a unique perspective on this, as she’s someone who lives in the “hood” but goes to a mostly white private school. She simultaneously sees how her classmates side with the police officer, while going home to see how angry everyone is about the shooting and the increased surveillance in these neighborhoods after protests.
Starr was initially afraid to let anyone at school know what happened, and how she was there when Khalil got shot. However, throughout the book we see her find her voice and begin to speak out because:
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
What I loved about this book was seeing a personal experience. It was funny at times, heartbreaking at times (especially at the very end with the court decision) and extremely quotable. It’s one of those books that you want to read again and again.
I remember as soon as I read it, I thought that it might become a classic like To Kill a Mockingbird. They both shine a light on the harsher side of American society: how race still plays a role in social standing and a person’s experience of America.
There’s a short piece by Starr talking about this. She talks about how, when she was young, she got two different talks. One was the talk that everyone gets – the birds and the bees. The other was what to do when a cop stopped you.