“The Hate U Give” by Angie Thomas looks into the Black Lives Matter movement from a personal viewpoint of a Black teen struggling in two different worlds, and it’s done perfectly.
Starr lives in Garden Heights, the predominantly Black side of the city riddled with crime, but attends Williamson Prep in the ritzy white suburb. While she balances her two personalities in these two different places, she gets caught up at a party where a shooting breaks out. She runs out with her childhood friend, Khalil, and they drive off. A police officer soon stops them for something trivial, and for showing attitude, Khalil gets shot and killed for reaching in his car for his hairbrush. The officer mistook it for a gun. And now Starr as the witness struggles with what comes after.
Starr deals with her nurse mother and ex-con father who owns a grocery store in the neighborhood; her old half-brother Seven who feels he has to take care of his other family under siege by a ganglord; her cop uncle; her white girlfriend Hailey who makes racist comments at school; insecurities around her white boyfriend Chris; and all her friends and neighbors in Garden Heights she feels she’s hurting somehow for not knowing how to approach the situation.
The novel explores a real young Black girl perspective unheard of in the young adult genre, so it was exciting to read that voice. Her voice is raw, so at first it’s wonky to get used to the slang and how she explains her world, but it comes through fast enough to the point where the reader can get devoured by what’s going on. There are a lot of elements, but it shows real-life situations for a teen girl living in two worlds and seeing her friend die at the hands of a cop. Definitely a must-read for being a genre standout and looking forward to how the book will play out on the silver screen.