A super stunning, young adult book inspired by the Black Lives Matter campaign. The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Carter. She saw her best friend, Natasha, murdered by gang gun violence at 10. Now at 16 she is involved in a police stop and search that ends with her unarmed friend, Khalil, being murdered by a police officer.
‘Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.’
Starr lives in a poor neighbourhood. After her friend is killed at ten years old, Starr’s parents send her out of the neighbourhood to go to an expensive, posh school, Williamson. Of course this school is mostly rich, white kids. Don’t worry, the Fresh Princeness of this is fully acknowledged.
Funny how it works with white kids though. It’s dope to be black until it’s hard to be black.
The Hate U Give deals with Starr’s double life. She feels like she must be careful at her school to not appear too ghetto or aggressive. In her home neighbourhood she feels ‘other’ because of her school. As she is the only witness to Khalil’s murder, she feels the pressure of her community on her to get justice, while she is also dealing with her own grief and trauma.
For at least seven hours I don’t have to talk about One-Fifteen. I don’t have to think about Khalil. I just have to be normal Starr at normal Williamson and have a normal day. That means flipping the switch in my brain so I’m Williamson Starr. Williamson Starr doesn’t use slang – if a rapper would say it, she doesn’t say it, even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her “hood.” Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people piss her off so nobody will think she’s the “angry black girl.” Williamson Starr is approachable. No stank-eyes, side-eyes, none of that. Williamson Starr is nonconfrontational. Basically, Williamson Starr doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto.
Clearly, The Hate U Give deals with an extremely emotional subject. I was in tears by page 30 and that has never happened with any novel I’ve read before! It is also very funny in places, particularly the interactions between characters. It has great humour mixed in with difficult, emotional subjects.
As well as Starr, we get to know her siblings, parents and extended family. She has home friends and school friends, and a boyfriend from school. Complicated relationships and histories between different characters are explored.
The book is focussed on the aftermath of Khalil’s murder and Starr’s move towards activism. It’s a brilliant book and I’d recommend it to anyone and everyone to read. The link to real life events is made clear and I can’t believe anyone could read The Hate U Give and fail to be emotionally moved, and angry, that these events happen, and happen as frequently as they do.
Ms. Ofrah once said this is how I fight, with my voice.
So I fight.