🚨Spoiler Alert 🚨
“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” -Starr Charter
RATING :: 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟
AUTHOR :: ANGIE THOMAS
BOOK GENRE :: YA FICTION
It was a little difficult for me to write a review on this book because there were so many details that I didn’t want to leave out in my review. I had to gather my thoughts so I could figure out what I wanted to write. Sorry for the delay, guys… but here it is…
16-year old Starr Charter’s world is turned upside down in an instant when she witnesses the murder of her childhood best friend Khalil who was shot by a police officer.
For the next several weeks, chaos ensues as many African Americans demand justice for Khalil’s tragedy and protest against the ongoing battle of police brutality.
Friendships are tested, people’s true colors begin to emerge, and everyone is left to decide if they will take a stand for justice or hide in the shadows of comfort and fear.
Starr, who struggles with being herself around her schoolmates (who happen to belong to an upper class society) and those whom she’s grown up with, has to decide whether she wants to be a voice for her best friend, or do the bare minimum to please those who’d rather have her remain silent.
For the first 5 to 6 chapters, I questioned whether or not I might actually appreciate the message of the book, but since it was still too early for an opinion, I decided to keep reading to see if my opinion would change… and boy, did it…
I’ve never read a story that expresses the character’s thoughts, feelings, and motives so profoundly. The struggles, the pain, and fears of the main character, as well as those of her family, gave me perspective on the topic of police brutality against blacks.
How can you address the subject of police brutality without feeding hatred or encouraging violence? How can you demand accountability and ask that police officers that give into prejudice and racism to be disciplined properly without attacking and mixing good police officers with the bad ones? These had been some of the questions I had had on my mind before I got my hands on this book. But the worry that it may feed into a lot of the radical ideas/beliefs many individuals have held towards police officers, including the ones who’ve strived to be of service to every human regardless of race, religion, or gender, banished as I flipped through the pages of The Hate U Give. On the other hand, it also helped me gain understanding over the concerns and fears of many people of color who’ve been oppressed over the years. For some time, I thought I knew what they [blacks] were talking about, but after reading this book, I realized my level of understanding was blurred, if not flawed.
Since we are living in a time where people are quick to jump to opinions, and feel easily offended, it’s not easy to bring stories that deal with heavy subjects to light, yet Angie finds a way to do this with balance.
The book also addresses a lot of issues happening within the black community- poverty, drugs, and gang violence; Angie truly does an amazing job blending it into the story. I felt like I finally saw the struggles a lot of teens face when they choose a life of drugs and violence in a whole new light.
While the death of Khalil is a tragedy to his close friends and family, as well as a form of injustice, it doesn’t take long for other people, including one of Starr’s own friends, to justify his death. Since he was associated with gang members, sold drugs, and hadn’t followed the police officer’s instructions when he was pulled over, it was only right that he was killed, right?
The situation only intensifies when Khalil’s murderer walks away free, without any form of discipline, which lead to protests and riots on the street. While some view the situation as a time to come together and use their voices to demand justice and equality, others take to violent acts to show their disapproval and anger, destroying properties or stealing from non-black businesses.
While some view racism and police brutality as the black man’s main ongoing issue, others, like Mr. Reuben, an outspoken, elderly black man, see black on black violence as an even bigger issue. Eventually everyone in the neighborhood has to decide if they’d rather keep silent over black on black violence, and let those responsible walk away free, or keep silent over police brutality and racism due to fear.
Which brings me to my favorite part of the entire book…
…when Starr’s family & neighbors go against the traditions/rules they’d been brought up to uphold, and stopped protecting those that were the cause of trouble within their neighborhood…
“It’s my store,” he says. “I know he started the fire.”
“Did you see him do it?” the cop asks.
No. That’s the problem. We know King did it, but if nobody saw it . . .
“I saw him,” Mr. Reuben says. “He did it.”
“I saw him too,” Tim says.
“So did I,” Ms. Yvette adds.
And shit, now the crowd is echoing the same thing, pointing at King and his boys. I mean, everybody’s snitching. The rules no fucking longer apply.
This became the turning point that left my mouth open. Since the characters had been taught to protect and look out for their own kind, this often left gang members walking away from proper punishment, and left the innocent facing consequences that wasn’t theirs to bear. Starr and her family face this time and time again, with Starr having to be raised the first several years of her life by her uncle while her real father did time in prison for a crime he didn’t commit. His reason being that if he didn’t take King’s- the real criminal- place, King would be locked up for life.
However, Starr’s father, who I thought was the most stubborn character of the entire book, comes to the realization that sticking his neck out for someone who didn’t care enough about him and his family was a waste of time… which is why I was screaming (internally) with joy when he finally stands up to King, fully aware of the possible consequences of doing so.
Another topic that I know can be pretty uncomfortable to get into, but was blended well into the story, was the interracial relationship between Starr and her boyfriend, Chris. I came to love Chris for his genuine love and concern for Starr, even though he’s fully aware of where she comes from and how different he and Starr are from one another. I ship this couple so much that I believe they’re on my top ‘favorite fiction couples’ list.
For Starr, dating Chris is a huge problem, but not because she sees something wrong with him… but because she knows that those within the black community may not be happy about her dating a “white boy,” including her father, who she knows might say something along the lines of, “What’s wrong with black men?”
I had expected Chris to make a run for the door when Starr’s father discovers what his relationship to Starr is really about, and I had also expected him to end his relationship with Starr when he discovered she was the witness who saw her friend get shot, so I was surprised (and squealing with satisfaction) when he not only keeps himself collected around Starr’s father, but supports & even joins in a public protest, demanding justice for Khalil’s death. Seriously, this character deserved a round of applause.
Of course, he’s not the only one who deserves one. Along the way, Starr, her uncle, one of King’s young gang members, and others in the black community make incredible sacrifices that force them out of their comfort zone.
By the end of the story, almost all the characters in the book have matured and faced their own form of prejudice. Characters that I thought would continue being stubborn and holding onto their own views/philosophies of life, emerge into a new level of understanding, courage, and maturity.
This is a book that any person who wishes to dive into a deeper level of understanding concerning police brutality or racism should read. It would be great if schools allowed students to read it as well so they can come to their own conclusion about the issues surrounding racism and violence, rather than allowing others to shape their thoughts for them…
…especially since there are already many individuals with flawed views that are filled with bitterness and hatred, and seek to divide rather than encourage unity.
Please take time to read The Hate U Give! You won’t regret it!
Thank you for reading!