The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas tells the story of sixteen-year-old Starr Carter—yes, she’s also convinced that she’s vaguely related to Jay-Z—who witnesses the tragic murder of her childhood friend at the hands of a police officer. It’s a tale that has been brought up in black culture for generations; do exactly what the police say, or they will kill you. Unfortunately for Khalil, the officer sees him as a “combative black male,” and so his young life is stolen. Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?
During the span of time that it takes to read this novel, readers will delve deep into the life of Starr—before and after the death of Khalil. She is trapped between a multitude of worlds, worlds that she is forced to adapt to because of the stigma that comes with being an African-American female. If she is to be rightfully angry at Khalil’s murder, then she is perceived as “ghetto.” If she tries to conform to the white standards of her prep school, then she’s “bougie” or a “sellout.” Starr is forced to adapt a multitude of facades and personas, simply to keep herself safe in a world so clearly divided.
The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is such an important read—for everyone, but especially for young POC.
Ms. Thomas tackles modern-day racism in ways that have never been done before, with the revealing of white indifference and the everlasting police brutality. She shows how young white teenagers can be so easily ignorant and hurtful towards people of color, and she shows the challenges and heartache that comes with being black in America. Ms. Thomas even explores the world of Garden Heights, the poor neighborhood that Starr resides in. Poverty and crime run rampant, and Angie Thomas really gives insight as to why black neighborhoods may be facing this problem, and why black teenagers may get caught up in drugs and gangs.
The main story of The Hate U Give, though, revolves around police brutality and the search for justice. The media may try to spin stories around and portray victims of police brutality as “thugs,” but kids are kids and there is no reason that an unarmed one should be shot and killed by law enforcement. Ms. Thomas does an excellent job at writing about the indifference of officers when investigating events as these, and she does an amazing job at describing the frustration of POC around the country when the media tries to glorify the officer.
As a sixteen-year-old African-American male, I deeply resonated with this book, and I wholeheartedly thank Ms. Thomas for writing it. As a fervent reader, this book opened my eyes and showed me how POC and their struggles and customs are almost nonexistent when it comes to popular literature. Seeing a black main character, as well as an entire cast of black people, was incredibly moving to me. Not only that, but the way that they spoke and the slang that they used was also extremely relatable.
To Ms. Angie Thomas, thank you for writing The Hate U Give. And to the many POC around the world who don’t feel represented and appreciated, this book is for you.