Why You Should Read The Hate U Give

If you have watched the news, or logged onto social media over the past couple years, you will have heard of Black Lives Matter, a movement generated because of the problems of police brutality within the US. If you aren’t sure exactly what Black Lives Matter is, Wikipedia describes it as “an international activist movement, originating in the African-American community, that campaigns against violence and systematic racism towards black people”. It started with a Twitter hashtag following the shooting of Trayvon Martin and the subsequent acquittal of the officer who killed him. Social media has played a big part in fighting back, as people have been using it to create hashtags, threads, and calls for action, and now the fight is moving into the literature world. 

The Hate U Give, a novel by Angie Thomas centres around a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr who lives in a predominantly black neighbourhood, but goes to a private school with mostly white students, where she feels she needs to present herself as “less black”. She struggles to find a balance between these two worlds and ends up feeling like two separate people, where she does not feel fully herself in either. This becomes an even harder struggle after she witnesses the death of her childhood friend, Khalil, at the hands of a police officer, and is forced to testify on the matter. Khalil’s shocking murder shatters Starr’s life, making her question everything, from who her true friends are, to her own life choices and identity.

This novel is important because it depicts real and important matters and incorporates them into fiction in a way that is interesting and educational. This text gives a unique insight into the lives of minority youths through the sixteen-year-old black protagonist. By writing the main character in this very real situation, the author is helping us understand the systematic racism of North American society by giving us access to Starr’s thoughts surrounding these ongoing tragedies. While it is considered a Young Adult novel and has many YA themes, this is a book that everyone should be reading, as it is so relevant to what is going on today. It is also important that we read this novel because, instead of just seeing what the news presents us, this novel allows us to be inside of Starr’s head and experience what happens. 

There are many scenarios in this novel that showcase the challenges and differences of being a young black person in current society, but one, in particular, is where Starr recalls two conversations her parents had with her when she was twelve. One was the sex talk, and the next was about what to do if she was ever stopped by the police. While not yet a teenager, you are close enough to the age that your parents start preparing you for it. The sex talk is something most people would be able to relate to around this age, but for Starr, and many other black youths, they have another important talk. Her mother was hesitant to tell her, as she was still young, but her father pointed out that she “wasn’t too young to get arrested or shot”. She was taught to keep her hands visible, not to make any sudden moves, and to only speak when spoken to. This conversation with her parents was shocking and distressing to hear about, although this is the reality for many people. It also features many references from real life victims of police shootings, such as the murders of Eric Garner, Trayvon Martin, and others. 

The book was also banned from a school in Texas, which goes to show just how important it is. The majority of banned books cover important topics and became extremely famous, and are often taught generations later in schools.  Basically, banned books = iconic.  

Not only did The Hate U Give hit best-seller status within its first month on shelves, it was basically set to be a movie before the book was even released. It will have a range of actors from new, to known, including Amandla Stenberg.

Recently, actor Kian Lawley was fired from the film and all of his scenes will be cut and reshot because a controversial video showing him using racial stereotypes and the N-word surfaced online. He took to Twitter to apologize, saying that he has changed and respects his being cut from the movie. 

As a white person reading this book, I realize that I will never be able to relate or fully comprehend the struggle that people of colour experience, but through books like this I can better understand and acknowledge the problem, and try to become a part of the solution to stop the inequalities within our society. 

Basically, this book is incredible and you need to buy it. If you have been following the Black Lives Matter movement, read it, and if you haven’t, still read it. Everyone needs to read this book to better understand the struggles of being black in today’s society, as well as the impact of police brutality and racism. So, buy it. Buy this book, read this book, and discuss this book, because this is a topic that deserves to be talked about.