CRITICS’ CORNER: Book Review – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Bernadette Russo, Associate Editor-in-Chief, Junior

Starr Carter lives a double life: the fancy suburban prep school Starr who has to hide her true self, and the real Starr who lives in a poor neighborhood. On her way home from a party, Starr witnesses her childhood friend, Khalil, get shot by a police officer. Khalil was unarmed. His death is pinned across national headlines, framing Khalil as the villain, feeding into a stereotypical, societal distrust of the African American community. Given today’s polarized culture, the white suburban community outside of Starr’s world interprets the rumors of Khalil’s actions as the truth. Starr was the only other person in the car during the shooting, so it is up to her to fight for justice for her late friend and her race as a whole. It’s just Starr and her voice. Will she be able to do it? The Hate U Give, written by Angie Thomas, is an empowering young adult novel focusing on the importance of standing up for what is right and bringing justice to a world that is often unfair.

Thomas’ work felt authentic. Her inspiration for The Hate U Give sprouted from the Black Lives Matters movement. The book holds relevance to a variety of topics in society today. Most stories portrayed in Young Adult fiction are germane to what could generically be called “teen issues.” The Hate U Give is unique in that it is written about a serious and ongoing matter that affects all of society. However, it is written in such a way as to appeal to the next generation — the group of people with the greatest potential to change the world. Starr inspires readers to take what she does to heart, spark activism, and encourage teens to fight for causes important to them.

Thomas writes with the perfect balance of seriousness and insight. It’s both enlightening and exciting to see the inner working of Starr’s mind and experience her conflicts. As consequential as fighting for universal justice is, Starr is still a young girl living in her teenage world. Her emotions are magnified and intense, as she juggles trying to sustain the reputation she has secured at school, spending time with family, and using activism as an outlet to bring even-handedness to her community. When everyone is else is going right, Starr goes left. When it seems like the whole world is giving in to the paranoia that can come from racism, Starr is the only one that turns away and makes the change the world desperately needs. This book makes one believe that with enough passion and effort from the right people, humanity will be one step closer towards a better tomorrow.