To Read or Not to Read: The Hate U Give
For those of you who don’t follow YA book news as avidly as I do–The Hate U Give centers on Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old black girl who spends her days playing two roles: the Starr Carter of Garden Heights, the predominantly black neighborhood she grew up in, and the Starr Carter of Williamson Prep, where she cautions herself about not appearing “too ghetto.” Her world is torn apart when she witnesses a white police officer shoot and kill her childhood friend.
The big issues that Starr faces–police brutality, social injustice, and race relations–illicit strong feelings. I got angry. Angry about how there is an obvious double standard when it comes to how police officers are prosecuted in the wake of killing innocent black people. Angry about how our society looks down on black culture and forces people to put on a (white) face in order to get any kind of decent treatment. Angry about how black children have to be given the “cop talk” when they are young, so they know how to act when the inevitable police encounter occurs. On the other hand, I also was rooting for and identified with Starr’s experiences with the “normal” aspects of teenage life–boyfriends, friends, and passing classes.
Thomas is a an accomplished debut novelist–she balances tragedy with very human moments of levity throughout the book. I fell in love with the Carter family, but most of all, I enjoyed spending time with Starr Carter, a multi-faceted, all-too-human girl who worries about her father finding out about her white boyfriend, about fighting with her friends, and who is scared to reveal herself as the lone witness to the crime.
At the end of the day, The Hate U Give is important not only because it focuses on the Black Lives Matter movement, but also because it shows us that we are all human. That the people that we see as “other” (whether those on the other side for you are white, black, Republican, Democrat) are human beings, just trying to live their lives as best they can. And that empathy is still important.
Photo Credit: Epic Reads