The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Review 5/5

Overall Impression: A story about one girl’s struggle to stand up and speak the truth in a world of police corruption, racial inequality and classism.

The Hate U Give by Angie ThomasThe YA community has been awash with praise for Angie Thomas’s debut novel The Hate U Give, which follows young Starr, a girl from the hood who becomes a witness to a white policeman shooting her unarmed black friend. Can you say big, heavy HEARTBREAKING topic? I was concerned with how a YA novel would be able to tackle such a charged and current issue – but, I shouldn’t have fretted dear bookworms, because this was a respectful, honest, heartwarming tale, and well, I’m sorry to bore you but, I feel EXACTLY the same way as the majority of the blogosphere so you’re just going to have to put up with gushing about this novel like everyone else!
Thank you, Walker Books for the ARC ahead of the UK release date. Much appreciated!

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community.
It could also get her killed.

~ * ~

‘When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me.
One was the usual version. The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.’

How can you read the above quote and not feel your heart being ripped to shreds? Can you feel the gristle tearing? The blood spurting? I can. There have been so many incidents – too many, where white police officers have arguably shot unarmed ethnic minorities and asked questions later. A black person is more likely to get stopped and searched by the police, individuals are more likely to misidentify an object as a gun in relation to an African American (like a hairbrush), and research shows that when a distorted picture of a gun is shown after an ethnic face, we recognise it for what is is much quicker than if a white face is shown [further reading]. This is the sad reality that we live in. No matter how certain we are of racial equality, these biases still exist. 16-year-old Starr has been given this lesson by her loving parents – to make no sudden movements, to keep her hands visible when speaking to the police that are supposedly there for her protection. Unfortunately, her friend Khalil breaks the rules and pays the price.

Angie Thomas tackles this topic with adept hands, touching on so many important areas. Her writing is crisp and honest. Simple but effective. I can’t believe this is her debut novel. I HAVE AN ANGIE THOMAS BRAIN CRUSH RIGHT NOW. However, her true triumph is that The Hate U Give never becomes preachy and doesn’t overstate its intentions. Instead, it wets your appetite. It shows you the surface and encourages you to go off and do your own research – to search out the stats, the inequality, the truth.

Our main protagonist, Starr is a bright young girl with a loving family who want the best for her. While she lives in the hood, and her father is an ex-con and gang member, her parents have worked tirelessly to get her into a good school in a predominately white neighbourhood to give her and her brother the best chances of succeeding. This gives Starr a unique point of view as events unfold following the shooting. She can view the situation from both sides of the fence which gives the reader unique insight into the events unfolding. She see’s the anger and hate on one side, and excuses and ignorance on the other excluding a select few. It’s heartbreaking watching her struggle as she pieces together how injustice can exist in the world.

From the outside, Starr coming out about her friend’s murder would seem simple. Everyone would speak out, wouldn’t they? But when it’s your life that will be pushed into the spotlight and picked apart by the press its not so easy. Especially when telling the truth could lead to gang members knocking on your door. When speaking the truth doesn’t normally lead to justice anyway.

“You think the cops want Khalil to have justice?” I ask.
The truth casts a shadow over the kitchen – people like us in situations like this become hastags, but they rarely get justice.

The Hate U Give also highlights how the media plays a part in these events – how while these stories are initially portrayed with shock and dismay, coverage can quickly turn to blaming the victim and dredging up their past to justify the situation. I loved how these ideas were explored, yet I feel Angie Thomas could have gone a little further during the trial stage, as things went too smoothly for Starr and I think the media would have picked apart her credibility a lot more and her families past.

While this novel is about an important topic, I can’t deny that for me, its core element and what made it so successful was that its also all about family and friendship. Starr’s family ties are so deep and true and heartwarming. When Starr is lost, her parents are there at every turn to offer advice and guidance, her Uncle Carlos and his family are always around to strike up a barbeque when things get tough. Starr’s boyfriend and friends have got her back, and the few who don’t are rooted out and shown up for the ignorant trolls they are. Each and every side character in this novel is a beautiful shiny penny to discover. Starr’s family became my family. Starr’s friends became my friends. I loved each and every one of them.

Overall, The Hate U Give is an honest, smart, brave and heartfelt snapshot of the failings in our current society. It’s important, and at times its dark, but it also gives you hope that things can change, and will change. I’ve only scratched the surface in this review because I could write a whole essay on one chapter in this book alone, but it’ll be much more fun if you discover its intricacies for yourself! I would recommend this book those 12+ who enjoy reading about big themes and tight family dynamics. The Hate U Give comes out on the 6th of April in the UK, so make sure you grab a copy pronto! 🙂

Once upon a time there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug.
He lived, but not nearly long enough, and for the rest of my life I’ll remember how he died.
Fairy tale? No. But I’m not giving up on a better ending.’

~ * ~

Writing Style: 5/5
Originality: 4/5
Entertainment: 5/5
Character Development: 5/5
Would I recommend this book? YES MAM. *Nods enthusiastically.*

Overall: 5/5

24 thoughts on “The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas Review 5/5

      • I will get to it as soon as I can, but I have so many book events coming up that I have a lot of other books to read first :). No reading at all tonight though because Mikey and I are at the theatre waiting to see Beauty and the Beast!! Yayyy :).

      • You’re seeing Beauty and the Beast? Eeeeee! Good luck and I hope you like it! I haven’t seen it yet and I’ve heard mixed things but mostly good. 🙂

        Oooh good for you, I’m always amazed at how many author events you manage to line up, I haven’t got any planned!

        Reading this I’ve suddenly realised I haven’t answered the last email you sent me. *Doh* I am so sorry things have been all go here. On it right now!

  1. I read a similarly glowing review on The Atlantic. Well worth looking out for this one, I think.

    One thing bugs me, which I think will date the book more than anything (and this book is already being hailed as a classic, so it’s going to be on the radar for a while) – is the use of U not You in the title. Although it appeals to the core audience, YA is read by more than just young-adults, and if I saw this on a shelf with that title, I wouldn’t pick it up.

    • I just checked out The Atlantic link you sent me, a great review that really hits on all the main elements, makes mine pale in comparison, lol!

      The title is based on Tupac’s tattoo THUG LIFE, which he said stood for The Hate You Give Little Infants F***ks Everyone, so I think the fact that the book uses U instead of You has to do with the original quote, rather than the author just trying to make it more current or street. It’s a good point. I’ve read a few interesting debates on the use of text and colloquial speech in YA novels and there’s definitely an argument for and against it!

      I must admit, I think the cover actually does the book a disservice, I’m not sure it would make me want to pick it up – I’m not a fan of models on covers and usually prefer something metaphoric or vague, plus, the spine is bright pink, ack!

      • Actually, I thought your review was better than The Atlantic – your enthusiasm comes through more, and if a reviewer loves (or hates) a book enough to be shifted by it either way, then it should show in their review.
        The THUG LIFE thing makes more sense in context!

  2. Oh yeah i make myself go huh? Sometimes, Lol
    Now, including somewhere in the story the ‘eating of ive ‘
    That would be clever!

  3. I could tell throughout this review you had a lot to say about this book, and it sounds like one where a review isn’t enough to do all its facets justice. The story sounds wrenching in many ways, but that’s the mark of many great books. It sounds like Thomas did a fantastic job of capturing the awful realities of how dangerous it can be to be black and be stopped by the police and the fallout. And honestly, given the fact that multiple children have been murdered by officers (because what else you could call killing an unarmed kid) in the U.S., making this YA is a choice that I think has some power- these problems and these troubles are ones that are faced by children as much as adults.

    • I certainly did, it was so tough to condense this review into something readable that wasn’t an essay, haha. But I also didn’t want to give too much away, rather like Angie Thomas, I wanted to wet the readers appetite and make them want more so they go and read it for themselves. 😉

      This book just dealt with so many things, big racism, small racism, racism that exists on both sides… it was well done. it was also heart-wrenching because I’ve had psychology lectures on this kind of thing and I KNOW the stats. We hold racist stereotypes even when we’re sure we don’t. It’s horrible. 😦 I think Thomas did a great job of highlighting this in an accessible way, and I hope it will open some people’s eyes.

  4. Wonderful review, Becky! So glad this book has gained so much acclaim and that skilled, well-known book bloggers like yourself are promoting it. It’s so necessary (yet so sad that it’s necessary) that books like these gain attention in our increasingly challenging racial/political climate. Thank you for taking the time to write such an eloquent, thoughtful review of this book and I am happy to hear that you enjoyed it.

    • Thanks, Thomas. Good to see that you’re still stumbling around the blogosphere occasionally. 🙂

      I’m glad too, it’s the kind of book that needs to be heard and I’m glad it’s getting such a positive reaction. Hopefully, it will inspire many more people to speak up, and for more writers to tackle the subject.

      No problem, I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  5. I feel the exact same way- this book was phenomenal without being preachy! It examined a lot of different sides to the issues presented and showcased a wide and realistic portrayal of people’s reactions to situations, and what the aftermath can be. I’m really excited for the movie and can’t wait to see what Angie Thomas writes next, as I think she has an incredible talent for tackling these tough issues.

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