The Hate U Give – Angie Thomas
Final Thoughts: ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
There are certain books that make me fall in love so hard with their content that the five stars I’ll give them is obvious.
And then there are books that demand their five stars; they make it impossible to give them anything less. Classics do this to me sometimes; how the heck am I supposed to discuss the weaknesses of Maya Angelou or George Orwell? Alright, I know all classics aren’t perfect, but The Hate U Give is one of these books. It’s not because of its legacy (yet), or its unapproachable perfection. It’s because of the content.
The Hate U Give follows the events of Starr Carter, a high-schooler from a poor neighborhood who watches her best friend become a victim of police brutality. After she witnesses his death at the hands of racial profiling, a fire is kindled in her healing heart, and she confronts systematic racism head-on throughout her journey.
This book is important. I could say that it moved semi-slowly or that I sometimes got lost in the characters, but none of that matters to me in hindsight. This book is a crucial discussion and one of the first literary portrayals of police brutality. It is a opportunity for all of us to look into the very-real situations that black and brown people are forced into, and listen. I am white, and I quickly realized that this book is my chance to observe the feelings and thoughts of the victimized and oppressed people of the world. I like to think that I am a loving person, and as far from racism as a white person can get, but I also understand that growing away from hatred is a lifelong process, and that we constantly have to undo the prejudices that have been written into our brains by generations of bigotry. This book struck my heart because I imagined those of my friends who are also loving and kind, but who also have excuses for things like these. Excuses for why we should sympathize with police, for why black people should play victim cards, and for why minorities need to address their own communities first before blaming white people. I thought of all the comments I’ve heard in these arguments, and I immediately wanted to shove this book in their face. Angie Thomas has beautifully addressed all of the arguments of racists and neoliberal alike. She leaves no room for thoughts like “Well, he was a thug,” or “He should’ve acted differently around the cop.” She even shows us the causation of rioting and looting.
This book is the answer to a thousand questions rooted in prejudice. What hurts the most is that the people who want to explain systematic racism away will always exist, and they probably won’t read this book. But it makes my heart soar to think that anyone might read this book, absorb the perspective, and change their mind.
Starr is a amazing character, full of compassion and strength, and she welcomes us in to her family and neighborhood with arms wide open. She is our guiding light in this discussion, and when the events around her might anchor her down, she rises up.
This book is a beautiful, attainable story, and it is a tool for moving forward in our discussions about racism, brutality, and oppressive systems. I hope, with all of my heart, that this book changes minds, opens hearts, and spreads like wildfire.