My Copy: 9780062871350 (image from bn.com)
I saw the trailers for the movie, of course, and thought “damn, I need to see that.” The next day, I saw the book in the window of Barnes and Noble and stopped. I had no idea it was a book, and neither did another lady who stopped near me and saw it. We both went in right away to get a copy of the book.
The Hate U Give is from the point of view of Starr Carter, a black teenager who lives two lives: one at home in the ‘hood, the other as a prep-school student an hour away where she’s one of less than a handful of black students. You’re thrown into the story chaotically at a house party, getting a damn good introduction to who this girl is…and as the night goes on, what happens with her and Khalil when they get pulled over by the cops.
Khalil’s shooting’s just the beginning of the story, really. Everything else that happens in the neighborhood and to the Carter family while waiting for justice takes up the rest. Starr’s been pretty good at keeping her school and home worlds separate before the event, but as time goes on and her grieving process continues, the worlds start to merge, especially regarding her cop uncle, Carlos (who I liked), and her white boyfriend, Chris. And her friendships in the neighborhood and at school start to change.
I thought Starr was an interesting character, but I love how much the book focused on more than just her. Her family plays a huge role in the book, and the relationships with her neighbors in the ‘hood, too. There’s a complex web of rules and normalcies that we experience with her, including more shootings and her inability to explain why her white friends can’t understand what she’s going through or why she can’t tell them everything.
I kind of wish a few characters could’ve been more fleshed out, but over time their actions give a pretty good idea as to who these people are. There are plenty of side-plots for the supporting characters, and things may not be wrapped in a Disney bow, but you can see their relevance at the end.
I think it’s an important book to read in this time, a window into another slice of life I certainly haven’t read. Other than nonfiction, I don’t read many contemporary books, so maybe this is just my inexperience with the time in literature talking. Many seem to be showering praises on this work, others are more skeptical and nit-picky.
I think it’s just worth giving it a shot yourself. I was so wrapped up in the story I wanted to know what was going to happen next, and as things spiraled further beyond Starr’s control…let’s just say I haven’t read a 400+ page book this fast since the 4th Harry Potter book.
Worth a shot…and if you have kids and wanna discuss race, or a class of kids, this is a good jumping off point to learn more.