Courtasy of Nora Wells
In the last decade, the issue of racism, and the stereotypes associated with it, has become seemed to become more prominent in society. Author Angie Brown tackles this issue in The Hate U Give, a compelling novel about a 16-year-old girl who witnesses the death of a childhood friend at the hands of a police officer. How she responds shows her strength and determination in the face of racism and injustice, and paints a portrait of a strong, independent, young woman.
The story starts at a party in main character Starr Carter’s neighborhood. When a fight erupts and bullets fly across the dance floor, Starr makes a run for the door, following her friend, Khalil, to his car. While Khalil is driving Starr home, they are pulled over by a police office, with tragic results.
As the story progresses, sudden and dramatic events grab the reader’s attention and don’t let it go. Starr fights a war on two fronts, keeping her image up at school so nobody thinks of her as “ghetto” for living in a poor neighborhood where gangs are prominent. While she grieves for her childhood friend at home, it becomes hard to block out her feelings at school, especially when normal jokes that would not usually bother her begin to tear a rift between her and a friend.
Being a witness to a shooting has given Starr a different perspective on how she and her community are treated by the police. Gradually, the reader begins to wonder, “Maybe this story is not so far from reality?” This is especially true when Starr learns that the police department has declined an investigation into the shooting. Ultimately, Starr is faced with a choice to sit in silence and pity, or make a stand for what she believes in.
This book will appeal to readers in high school who are familiar with or open to serious, adult issues. The novel has vulgar language and may be inappropriate for children of young ages or sensitive students. However, this hard-to-put-down novel forces readers to face a difficult topic, and perhaps look at life from a different perspective. I give this book four out of five stars.
Editors’ Note: The movie version of this book premiered in 2018 and received a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97%. It premieres on HBO on 9/3.