Over the summer, the boy and I went to see a movie and we saw the trailer for “The Hate U Give”. He had questions. “Is this a true story?” “Did this really happen?” And so began the popping of that sweet kid bubble. I told him that while the movie was not a true story, it was created because of real events. I promised to answer more of his questions when we got home. This is how I found out that “The Hate U Give” was even a book.
So that night, I ordered this book and decided we would read it together. I’ll admit; I put off reading it because I knew it would be a difficult read. With what’s already happening in the news, I wasn’t sure if I could handle a book like this. Especially if the boy has more questions like he did in the movie theater.
But last week I finally picked it up because I am determined to read the book before the movie. And I am so glad I did; once I picked it up, I couldn’t put it down. I finished this book in two days. Angie Thomas creates an amazing collision with both viewpoints of polarizing real world events from the eyes of a teenager who’s dealing with a trauma that nobody should have to experience while also struggling with just trying to live her life as a teenager. Thomas wrote into existence a world beyond the sensationalized headlines we see in reality. A world passed the stereotypes and brief descriptions we read almost daily in the newspapers and on our Facebook feed.
Starr Carter and her world is probably the realest fictional I could ever read and that’s probably because she is real. Years ago and today; she is Any Girl. She is Every Girl. Her family is Every Family that wants better. Khalil is Every Boy who feels trapped. “The Hate U Give” might be fiction, but it is real life.
“The Hate U Give” truly jumps off after Starr Carter witnesses her friend Khalil shot and killed by police during a traffic stop. Khalil is giving Starr a ride home after a neighborhood party gets out of control. During their drive, they talk about some choices he’s made recently that he knows she wouldn’t approve of and he references the “classic” Tupac. He tells her that “Thug Life” means the hate u (letter) give infants fucks everybody. “Meaning what society gives us as youth, it bites them in the ass when we wild out. Get it?” It’s minutes later that everything they discuss during that short drive that the pieces of this small and powerful phrase fall into place for her… slowly and painfully; but they do. Everything from her privileged world where she tries to “hide” her true self to her home roots where she feels out of place crashes into one mess where bigotry, stereotypes and racism get tangled up. What is right and what is wrong? Angie Thomas shows us the dangers of assumption, the perils of relying on headlines for the whole story and the ignorance of trying to remain colorblind. It’s important to do your digging. Research beyond the stereotype. Understand color and the need to understand why minorities feel forgotten, trapped in their struggles and angry at being trapped and forgotten. Angry at being stereotyped.
Big Mav, Starr’s dad, is torn between bettering their little community and keeping his children safe from the limited choices and the struggles their neighbors seem to be stuck with. Maverick has already broken one cycle (NO SPOILERS) and he’s trying to break yet another when his daughter is witness to this murder.
This book creates an activist out of the chaos and the tragedy that hit this girl. Reluctant to lose her anonymity or her dual life. Afraid to face the ire of her neighborhood and terrified that nobody but her can be Khalil’s voice and his champion, 16 year old Starr Carter stands tall amid all the weight on her shoulders.
Guys, I’m trying hard not to give spoilers here… But thank you, Angie Thomas, for this gift. You’ve honored us with pages that inspire us. Inspire us to understand a person, not just read a headline. Understand the importance of actually seeing color and empathy. Teach us we must all be activists. We must all fight for each other.
Thank you, Angie Thomas for the perfect tool to teach my son. I absolutely recommend reading this book to your age-appropriate child. While it may lead to harder questions that need answering, they’re so important and absolutely relevant in these chaotic times.