I have been so lucky to have been sent so many amazing books in the past month, which would explain the barrage of 5* reviews over the past two weeks! However, the book I will be reviewing today is different, mainly because it is not only a great book, but a complete game changer. It is a book that has potential to change the world, and sparked inside me such a sense of determination to change things that I haven't gotten from a book in a really long time.
Of course, the book I am talking about is The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas. Since finishing this book, I have recommended it to almost everyone - my parents, my friends, people from my creative writing class. I feel so passionately that this is a book everyone needs to read right now, because it is so unflinchingly honest about the terrible situation we have found ourselves in, in this day and age, as a human race.
The Hate U Give follows Starr, a sixteen year old living in a rough side of town where the sound of gunfire at night is a regular occurrence. When she attends the prep school in the suburbs she feels like she has to be a different Starr, and feels like her friends just won't understand the world in which she comes from. One night, Starr finds herself in the middle of a nightmare as her childhood friend, Khalil, is shot dead by a white policeman. When the tragedy becomes front page news, Starr has to make a decision about whether to speak up for what is right, or let this death silence her forever.
Intrigued? Check out the blurb here...
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
Even though this is the longest book I have read in a while, I devoured it in a couple of days. It's not an easy book that you can escape the world in: The Hate U Give confronts us with the realities of our society today, not just in America, but all around the world. I didn't find this easy to read because it resonated with the horrific stories and pictures I had seen on Facebook, Twitter and the news, however I found reading this book such an enriching experience. I came away not only being a lot more knowledgeable in the ways that police violence and brutality can have such a shattering effect on a community, but also I felt that there were ways that I could somehow do something to change things - by protesting, by using social media to spread the message, but not keeping silent.
Starr was a fantastic protagonist who was just so realistic and easy to relate to. I felt like I was getting to know a real person who lived on the other side of the world, and loved every moment. Thomas' writing is so fresh and invigorating, bursting with life. This is a book that undeniably needed to exist, and I'm so glad Angie Thomas was the person to write this book.
All of the characters were wonderful and they all seemed so real to me. In particular I loved Starr's parents, especially her Dad. I wanted to highlight everything he said and imprint it in my mind forever.
I loved how you could see the growth of Starr throughout the book - how she started from being so broken by what had happened to realising the importance and power and strength of her voice, and how she could use it to change things. Even though The Hate U Give isn't a fairytale story (and I am so glad it isn't), there is a sense of hope in the way Angie Thomas writes, that if the people who read this book are affected by it, that they will be the ones to speak out about #BlackLivesMatter and slowly, but surely, the world will wake up to the atrocities that are happening. Because it has to.
This is an extraordinary debut novel and it's a book that is required reading, for people of any age. It is my hope that this book will provoke important discussions and that more people who have been silenced like Starr will have the courage to speak out.
Once again, here is proof that YA is an invaluable genre. YA gives the silenced a voice, and opens up a space for conversation, for understanding, for kindness.
Buy The Hate U Give here: https://www.amazon.com/Hate-U-Give-Angie-Thomas/dp/0062498533/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1493031911&sr=8-1&keywords=the+hate+u+give
Check out Angie Thomas here: http://angiethomas.com
Check out #BlackLivesMatter here: http://blacklivesmatter.com
Until next time :)