I finished The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas a couple of weeks ago but I’ve been hesitant to write a review. This book has blown up all over the Internet before it was even released. When something is already being talked about by so many people I usually find it a little difficult to put my own opinion out there. I had to let it sit for a while and think about it but I still find it very hard to put my thoughts into words. This review will probably turn out a lot shallower than the book deserves but there’s only so much you can write down. Part of what I’ve been hesitant about is that it approaches such a heavy and difficult subject. What I have now realized is that the message in The Hate U Give is really quite simple. Keep reading to find out more about it.
| Published: 2017 by Walker | Paperback Edition | Price: 8,09 € |
| 448 pages | ISBN: 9781406372151 |
16-year-old Starr is black and lives in a pretty bad neighborhood. The thing she wants to avoid the most is getting judged because of that and being reduced to “that black girl” because of her background. To give her a better education and keep her out of trouble her parents are sending her to a private school that mostly white kids go to, where she’s built herself a group of friends that she likes to keep separate from her “other life” in her neighborhood. When her childhood best friend gets killed by a police officer although he is unarmed and Starr is the only witness, the wall she’s built between her two worlds begins to crumble. Suddenly she’s the only one who can help bring justice to her friend and expose the shooting for the crime it is by revealing what really happened that night. While this difficult decision might endanger her and her family, she also has to decide on what she believes in and who is really important to her.
I couldn’t be happier with the title of the book. The Hate U Give comes from the rapper 2Pac’s definition of THUG LIFE: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody and that’s essentially what the book is about. You reap what you sow. What you teach little kids while they grow up determines who they’ll be when they’re adults and if you keep feeding them hate we all know where it’s going to end.
I also really like both covers. Everyone knows the American one with Starr holding the sign with the title on it but I bought the British version with a close up of her face. Usually I don’t like book covers that have a huge face on it but this one is done very well and not at all cheesy.
Writing & Plot
The Hate U Give deals with a lot of different topics that (sadly) still play a role in our society today. First and foremost, it was of course inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and therefore deals with police brutality towards black people and the very deep-rooted racism it is based on, as well as society’s reaction towards those crimes. It also deals with prejudices, interracial relationships, drugs, gangs, personal struggles and so much more. If you can’t already tell: This is one complex story.
The book is written from Starr’s perspective so the reader is constantly in her head. We experience everything with her: all her traumatic experiences, her emotions, and most of all her inner struggle while trying to figure out what’s the right thing to do. I thoroughly enjoyed the writing style. Angie Thomas uses a lot of slang in her dialogues, which is awesome! It makes the characters’ speech seem so much more authentic and I could really imagine them talking that way. If you’re not a native English speaker or really not used to slang, it might take some time getting used to it, but in the end it made me enjoy the book a lot more.
The pacing is perfect. The shooting happens in the very beginning of the book and consequently the largest part of the story follows its aftermath. The farther away we get from the incident, the longer the time gaps in Starr’s narration get but that is very fitting. Right after having watched her friend die, she’s in emotional turmoil and the story requires its focus to be put on that and explore those depths before Starr can take a step back from what happened and look at the bigger picture as well. That’s when her actual trial begins and she experiences the most personal growth.
I know that some people didn’t enjoy the ending as much but I was satisfied with it. It’s realistic and ends on a bittersweet note, but that’s about all I can say without spoiling anything.
Starr is a very strong character and I enjoyed reading from her perspective a lot. Throughout the book, she has to endure a lot of trials and hardships that eat away at her spirit and cause her to question a lot of aspects of her life, especially the people in it. She is afraid and she doesn’t know what to do, yet she is still incredibly brave. Sadly, I didn’t write down the exact quote, but her parents actually tell her that she doesn’t have to be fearless in order to be brave and strong. The essence of bravery is speaking out and doing something in spite of being scared to.
It was great to see how much the story focused on Starr’s character development from before the incident to months after. We can watch her grow and figure out what is really important to her. The Hate U Give is not solely about the aspect of social injustice and police brutality towards black people, but it is also a coming of age story about one seemingly unimportant girl finding her place in the world, and most of all her own community, and as well as her growing into her personality.
The side characters have a lot of depth to them as well. Starr’s slightly complicated family situation with her older brother having a different mother is very interesting and gives the story a nice side plotline.
Sometimes you can do everything right and things will still go wrong. The key is to never stop doing right.
The Hate U Give is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. It is so incredibly important right now, at this moment, and will continue to be important for years and years to come. When people several hundred years from now are looking back at our literary period, they should see this as one of our classics. I sure do.
I really want to say that everyone should read this (and they really should) but sadly I don’t think everyone would get the same message from it. That is by no means the fault of the book, but simply to blame on how and with what mindsets those people were brought up. It really is true: The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody.
5 out of 5 Hubbles