Monday, May 15, 2017

Oh it hurts so bad to let go of your hand: THE HATE U GIVE.

The Hate U GiveThe Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Starr Carter lives a divided life. At sixteen, she spends part of her life in her impoverished inner city neighborhood and another portion in the suburbs, attending an elite prep school, where she is one of a handful of African American students. Starr feels like she is two Starrs, and she keeps these two people very separate, with a different set of friends and personas for each world. But her careful facade is threatened when her childhood best friend, Khalil, is killed by a police officer. Starr is with Khalil when he is shot--unarmed--and her life will never be the same. In the aftermath, the media begins to call Khalil a drug dealer and a gang member. But speaking up about what she saw isn't so simple, especially when not everyone wants to hear the truth.

You've probably heard about Thomas' debut novel by now--it's been getting a lot of coverage and truly, deservedly so. This is definitely a powerful, eye-opening, and timely story. Thomas has created an excellent main character in Starr, whose voice shines clear and strong in the book. Her struggle to fit into two worlds is one many can relate to: Starr's just happens to have life and death consequences. Starr has wonderful, supportive parents and two humorous brothers who fill out the book with a realism and warmth that's hard to describe. Thomas is superb in capturing her characters' voices, and I found myself easily able to picture Starr and her family. I especially loved such snippets that made them jump off the pages--for instance, the family settling down to watch NBA basketball, complete with all their little superstitions (I've definitely been there) was perfect.

Starr's story isn't always easy to read (nor should it be), but it offered strong insight into the systemic problems facing African American communities--much of it framed by Starr's pragmatic parents. I thought some things tied up too easily, but I was still very profoundly affected by the story. I loved Starr and her tough yet vulnerable self. I loved her parents, their love, and their history. Her brothers cracked me up. At its core, this is a story about family, as well as identity and race. It's important, serious, heartbreaking, and yet sometimes really funny. It's also beautiful, powerful, and definitely worth a read.

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