The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
I have mixed feelings about this book. It was good; don't get me wrong, but there are just a few things about it that bothered me.
The main character is Starr Carter, a 16 year old junior at Williamson, a preppy private school. Her mom enrolled her and her brother there after Starr witnessed her ten-year-old best friend get shot and die in a drive-by. Mom figured that going to a better school would be safer than going to school in their neighborhood, Garden Heights, aka the hood or the ghetto. Starr is into sneakers and basketball. She has a white boyfriend, Chris, and a few good girlfriends, Hailey, also white, and Maya who is Chinese.
Starr is hanging out with her neighborhood (black) friends and goes to a party she really doesn't want to be at. While there, she starts talking to Khalil, a childhood friend whose life has taken a different path. Someone at the party starts shooting, and Khalil and Starr make a quick exit. He agrees to drive her home.
On the way, they are pulled over by police. Instead of standing still like he was told to do, Khalil opens the door to ask if Starr is okay, reaches for his brush, and he is shot. Dead. The death of an unarmed black man at the hands of the police makes national news, and many people are calling him a thug and a drug dealer. At first, Starr denies knowing Khalil, but in the long run, she finds her voice and takes up the cause for justice. This will cause her some trouble in the neighborhood.
One of my thoughts about this book is that the author tried too hard to write "black." For example, she writes, "Bazooka Joe Nike Dunks that I haven’t added to my collection. Kenya always wears fly sneakers." I just think it sounded unrealistic.
Her writing is also extremely inconsistent. Sometimes she will have a character say "ain't" and sometimes "aren't." Sometimes she writes "out of" and other times "outta." Instead of characters saying "gonna" they say "gon."
Another inconsistency is that sometimes a character might say, "Mrs. Pearl say" meaning "Mrs. Pearl said," but other times it's written correctly. There are other errors in verb tense. "Everybody call him that," is occasionally written, "Everybody calls him that." It's just inconsistent which makes me take it less seriously. I also got completely tired of hearing the dad and a few others say, "A'ight."
Grammar aside, the author tries to include another point of view, but isn't very successful with that aspect. Starr's uncle is a police officer who lives in a nice, suburban, quiet neighborhood while Starr, her mom and dad and 2 brothers live in the "ghetto." What she does include about the more affluent people and the police, even the uncle, is mostly unflattering.
Something else is her inclusion of the translation of "Thug Life," according to Tupac. "The Hate U Give Little Infants F****s Everyone." Thus, the title of the book, technically, is THUG. This bothered me because, in my estimation, this is supposed to be a young adult novel, and I just didn't see the appropriateness of it. This novel I wouldn't want my tween or young teen to read this due to the seriousness of the subject matter as well as the language, not to mention, it's long at 447 pages. But this book was given to keep in my 7th grade classroom, and I think that's too young for it.
I applaud Ms. Thomas for tackling the hefty topic of police reform and injustice and for providing diversity in literature. But without spoiling the book, I will just say that the author basically perpetuated certain stereotypes instead of addressing how to overcome them.
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