Starr lives in the rather poor, mostly black neighborhood of Garden Heights. But she has been attending the richer, white prep school a little outside of Garden Heights for a while, so she has been out of touch a lot with her childhood friends. So when she attends a party in Garden Heights and she runs into her former best friend Khalil, she is overjoyed. When the police come to break up their party, Khalil gives Starr a ride home. And then the police stop them for a traffic check – an encounter that Khalil doesn’t survive: he is shot by the police officer. Starr is left traumatized and the only witness – and she has to figure out how to deal with both facts.
The Hate U Give is an impressive book – a vibrant story with great characters and many small, important and big, important details that dissect racial relations and racism in the USA way beyond police killings of black people.
The Hate U Give is one of those books that I just couldn’t put down. I really blazed through it, finishing it within a couple of days. The book really had a tense grip on me and my emotions. I had to cry more than once as Thomas really makes you feel the gravity of the situation. Fortunately she doesn’t drown in hopelessness, despite of the weight.
Given… well, pretty much everything about the book, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that it is highly political. I really can’t imagine that anybody reading the novel could come away from it not understanding just how much of a price black people in the USA pay just for existing. And how unfair and rigged the system is. If The Hate U Give doesn’t make it clear to you, you don’t want to know.
And as I said, it’s not “just” about police officer constantly and consistently shooting black people, Thomas covers way more than that. She shows how many dilemmas black people, black communities face every day (like Starr’s father who doesn’t want to leave his neighborhood, but might have to just to keep his family safe), how many problems that white people never have to think about. I am sure that it is important for black people to see their struggles reflected that way, but for me as a white person it is invaluable, too, to get this education and access.
All of this makes The Hate U Give a tremendously important book. But it’s also simply a good book with a wonderful protagonist that is a great read. My compliments to pretty much everything about it.
Summarizing: Read it.