The Hate U Give is one of the timeliest–and most poignant–of books I’ve read on police brutality hitting the limelight. Author Angie Thomas humanizes the problems between black and white cultures through a teen girl witnessing a cop killing her childhood friend. There, in the brink between dedication and insanity, protagonist Starr Carter juggles personal life and public activism. In the end, she must make a choice: does she witness the havoc from the sidelines, or sacrifice her safety for the truth?
Through it all, Thomas wields expertise in her discussion of racial tension and black and white culture. The parallelism of the book’s events and actual police shootings brought the power of her words to life. Reading this during Philando Castile’s killer’s acquittal made this novel especially poignant to me; these events are happening in our lives. They are not just fiction. But hopefully, this fiction will have an impact without someone having to die.
Thomas intersperses this bleak context with comedic family antics, bringing joy to an otherwise bleak situation. My heart was warmed by witnessing Starr’s mother’s sass, her father’s care, and her uncle’s unbroken promises. Through purposefully crafting the kind scenes with the harsh, Thomas showcases her skill as an #ownvoices writer, demonstrating true, realistic black families outside of the stereotypes. Occasional tie-ins with Tupac and the Black Panther movement guide Starr alongside the reader to accept that justice is all we can fight for, and not to lose hope.
All in all, I rank this book five stars and a PLEASE READ. I recommend reading this book throughout several days, savoring the details. (For extra heartbreak, read about true police brutality as you read. It certainly brought me to tears.)