The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is an incredible book. In many ways, it is a fairly typical YA novel about a teenage girl and has more modern pop culture references than any other book I’ve read, making it feel as though it were truly written by a teenager. However, the book is also unordinary in many ways. The main character, Starr, is an African American teenager living in a black neighborhood but goes to school out of district to attend a better school and deals with an internal conflict similar to Junior from The Absolutely True Diary of a Part Time Indian in which she feels like she betrayed her community, deals with microaggressions from her friends at school, and feels as though she has to be two different people. However, the main topic of the book is following Starr’s story after she watches her closest childhood friend get shot in the back by the police. As Starr watches as, just as she’s seen many times before, Khalil’s name becomes a hashtag and people march in the streets while the police have no intention of punishing the guilty officer. This raises the point that police brutality is something which is talked about a lot on news and social media, but only in the shallowest, most impersonal ways and justice is rarely delivered. Angie Thomas delivers a strong message about police brutality in America by making it personal for the reader and showcasing the multiple issues with how justice is handled both by police officers and by society. She also brings up the relevance of microaggressions with how Starr’s non-black friends are well meaning but are ignorant about many of the issues Starr deals with and may say things that we, the reader, know are insensitive or offensive without knowing it. Thomas shows how these microaggressions hurt Starr and the different ways she and her friends respond to them. Usually, Starr calls them out on it, and they take personal offense. In one scenario, her friend asks, shocked, if Starr thinks she’s racist after everything they had been through together, to which Starr responds you don’t have to be racist to say racist things. I thought this was a very important statement as often people say things they do not realize are racist due to the society we live in where many things are internalized, and not realizing some things may be offensive is only human. However, once someone has been informed of the issue with their actions, it is their responsibility to own up to it and re-educate themself, because ultimately they are hurting other people. Thomas demonstrates this well as one of Starr’s friends does this well and one does not.
Overall, fantastic, fascinating book so far and I cannot wait to continue reading and find out what happens next.