The hate u give by Angie Thomas may be one of my favourite books for 2017 – and we’re only a quarter of the year in.
It’s a young adult book but I’d argue that anyone over the age of 14 should read it. I’ve given it to Mr 13 to read.
It’s about Starr Carter, a sixteen-year-old African American girl living in Garden Heights, an area notorious for crime and drugs. She goes to school at Williamson, where she’s one of a handful of black students. Her daddy is an ex-con who runs a grocery store. Her momma is a nurse, working hard on a promotion. Her older and younger brother both annoy her and look out for her.
Within the first twenty pages, she’s at a party chatting to an old friend, Khalil. She grew up with him, looked after by his grandmother, Ms Rosalie. There’s gunshots at the party so they flee in Khalil’s car, are pulled over by the police and because Khalil checks to see if Starr is ok, he’s shot dead.
As you can predict, the novel focuses on the cruelty and unfairness of a young black man’s life at the hands of a white policeman.
Starr has a foot in two worlds – she’s at home in Garden Heights as Big Mav’s daughter and she fits in at school where she watches her language. Her white boyfriend, Chris, is the only person who makes her feel she can be both selves, yet she can’t tell him what happened to Khalil – or about seeing her ten-year-old friend shot six years ago.
She decides to go before the Grand Jury, believing that her weapon is her voice and she can use it for Khalil – to explain how he didn’t do anything to deserve being pulled over, let alone shot.
Apart from the page-turning plot, this book is authentic. The dialogue brings you into contemporary black America immediately. Starr is a fully realised, in-depth character who elicits both hope and empathy in readers. Her family will make you laugh and cry.
Although fiction which focuses on diversity is all the rage now, this book transcends genres and popular trends – it’s just a good read.
It will make your heart race and your mind spin. Read it.