Full disclosure – I didn’t have very high expectations for The Hate U Give. My students in my book club chose it to read and I thought it was going to be just a typical teenage book that was turned in to a movie. I knew the premise of the book and that it was a best seller – but that still didn’t really give me high hopes. But, I ended up really liking it and halfway through I was really hooked and couldn’t stop reading.
The Hate U Give follows teenager, Starr Carter, who lives in a rough neighborhood. Her father is a former gang member who left the gang life after prison and now runs a local convenience store. Her mom is a nurse at a local clinic and her uncle is a police detective who lives in a much nicer town. Despite still living in a less than safe area, her parents send her and her siblings to a private school an hour away to give them a good education and keep them from falling into the wrong crowd.
Starr feels like she always has to have two sides to her. The side at home where she has to hide when gunfire goes off in her neighborhood and the side at school where she is one of only a handful of non-white students, plays basketball, gets good grades, and has to hide her “ghetto” side.
The story begins with Starr going to a party with neighborhood kids and running away from the party with childhood friend Khalil, after a fight breaks out. On the car ride away from the party, they get pulled over by a white police officer. After the police officer mistakenly believes that Khalil is reaching for a gun, he shoots and kills Khalil.
The novel follows Starr through her grief, confusion, and anger about what happened and what the world is like. At 16, Starr learns about the injustices of the world, but also what the world could be like.
The story will definitely get you hooked. With all the news stories in recent years of police brutality, especially against people of color, this is a way to see things from a different perspective. It teaches you that despite what goes on, you don’t need to sit down and take it because it’s the way things have always been or because it’s “accepted” in society. We must all use our voices to decry injustice and to bring about change.
I haven’t seen the movie yet, but I really want to so I can compare it with the book. I looked at the cast list and the one thing that irked me a little is that Starr’s friend Maya, who in the book is Asian, looks to be played by a non-Asian actress which I assume means they changed her character. Which is kind of annoying especially since the novel embraces the idea of minorities raising their voice. But I’ll reserve judgement til I see the movie.
If you’re looking for a new book to read, I highly recommend The Hate U Give!