Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
“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 a young adult novel whose protagonist, sixteen-year-old- Starr, witnesses the murder of her friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. She is shocked and deeply heart-broken, but it stirs something inside of her which makes her realise that she needs to use her voice to get Khalil’s story heard. Raising questions about race and police brutality, this book is an important insight into what is unfortunately all too much of a reality. But The Hate U Give uses Starr to make us chillingly wonder, even though Khalil’s death was wrong, what’s the chance of him ever actually receiving justice?
Everything I’d heard about this book had been great, and I knew that reading it would be enjoyable, but I think books with so much hype are always dangerous, because they have an expectation to live up to what everyone’s said. Thomas’ writing was enjoyable from the get-go and I loved Starr as a protagonist – she was realistic, as were her relationships with the other characters in the novel too.
What I also liked about this book is how empowering it felt; Starr obviously has to go through a horrible ordeal, but through it, you can see the way she realises things about the world around her, and about how she should use her experience to help other people, and more importantly, get justice for her friend. Throughout the course of the novel, you see her grow from a young person, into someone who is a force to be reckoned with.
Obviously this book is great for showcasing black culture, but it was also disconcerting to read; when Starr says that at 12-years-old, her parents taught her sex education, and what to do if she’s stopped by the police, as a white reader, this felt unnerving to read when you realise that it’s the reality for black children growing up in America.
Unfortunately, while reading, I couldn’t get away from the feeling that the whole thing just felt quite long. It was 438 pages, and usually YA novels are great for the speed in which you can read them. However, there were unnecessarily long sections of dialogue, and I thought all the scenes were all dragged out slightly, and so overall, it was about 50 pages too long.
This is an important story to read regardless of how much I did or didn’t enjoy the writing style, and for that I think it’s worth picking up. Starr is an interesting character and I like how much it sheds a light on a situation which is all too familiar in real life. I also love how Thomas, like Starr, has used her position to start a conversation and try and make a change, which I think is one of the reasons reading, and books, are so great, so for that, this book is very commendable.