Book Review: The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

5/5 stars ******

                                                                                                Courtesy: 20th Century Fox

Premise- (5/5) This book has been on my to-read list since it came out. It was a big deal in YA and literary circles, and picked up a movie deal, which I still haven't seen. Police brutality is a difficult but important topic, and unfortunately that remains as true now as it did when The Hate U Give came out. I was expecting this book to be heavy, but extremely moving. 

Characters- (5/5) One of the hardest things to do when writing about a sensitive topic like racism and police brutality is to capture the nuances of the characters and the complex moral decisions they are grappling with. Thomas did a truly incredible job here. She really fleshed out not only Starr, but her family and friends as well, which was an excellent way to get her message across: People are people and they are multifaceted and flawed but they still deserve dignity, respect, and a right live freely and without fear. Starr struggles a lot with public perception of Khalil and the insinuation that she hears over and over again, that he if he was armed, if he was a drug dealer, he was just another thug and got what was coming to him. Thomas faces this all-too-common mentality head on, challenging it by portraying a vibrant community which struggles with drugs, gang warfare, and poverty but is also full of people who take care of each other. Starr's relationships with her family were possibly my favorite part of the book because they were so incredibly real, full of love and care. Her friendships--black and white, were sometimes hard to read but a necessary hard look at microaggressions and inherent racism. 

Plot- (4.5/5) I initially struggled a little with the novel's pacing, and it felt odd to me how quickly Starr had to keep going --not move on, exactly, but continuing with life as if her whole world hadn't been rocked. But the farther along I read, the more I saw the necessity of it? I've never had a comparable experience, but through Starr's eyes, I could sort of see how that's what she had to do because that's what the world was doing. Regardless, both the main plot of the shooting and the subplots that Thomas weaves in were addressed very neatly and definitely make the reader think hard. I also really appreciated that we got to see both the legal and activist approaches. 

World- (5/5) I loved reading about the community of Garden Heights. It was vivid, complicated, and extremely interesting. It definitely felt like a real place. Starr's high school also felt very real. I went to an expensive private school that, though not quite as white as Starr's, definitely shared a lot of similarities with Williamson Prep, so that environment was very familiar, which was at times uncomfortable. 

Writing- (4.5/5) Though the pop-culture references could sometimes be a little much, Thomas' writing was powerful and easy to read. She did a great job of balancing the heavy, emotional writing with lighter humor. The Hate U Give makes a difficult topic readable and digestible without lessening its impact and power. 

Overall- (4.8/5) Anyone trying to understand police brutality or racism in our society today should read The Hate U Give. It's an honest but hope-infused look at community, family, and some of the most important social issues of our time. Excellent characters and world construction, with moving writing makes The Hate U Give one of my best reads this year. 

Trigger Warnings: police brutality, shooting, drugs, addiction, racism (microaggressions and systematic), swearing, protesting and tear gas, gang violence, mention of prison, cancer