The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas
Published by: Balzer + Bray on February 28, 2017
Review Source: Edelweiss, Publisher
Genres: Contemporary Fiction, Social Justice/ Themes
Plot: Inspired by the Black Lives Matters Movement, The Hate U Give follows sixteen year old Starr who has witnessed her childhood best friend being killed by a police officer.
I sat on reviewing this for a bit, because it was a very emotional read for me. Without going into details, I will say that I live and work in a place that has been touched by gun violence. As a librarian, I also work closely with teens from every demographic. To read about Starr’s experiences dredged up a lot of emotions from my own life that are never easy to revisit. However, I think it is very important to say that this book and its review isn’t and shouldn’t be about me. It should be about developing empathy.
One of the most powerful aspects of reading is its ability to expand our horizons as individuals. It has the power to allow you to slip into the heart and mind of someone with an entirely different set of experiences (some familiar and some utterly alien) to grow from. The Hate U Give tackles many of the issues that teens of color and those living in urban environments experience daily. From the struggle to hang on to the simplest needs in life, all the way to the guilt one feels for something as fundamental as the way they speak or look are written with a depth and honesty we all need exposure to.
The fact of the matter is, we have made progress since the Civil Rights Movement began in 1954, but we aren’t free of the scars of rampant inequality and prejudice. Some of us will never have to worry about being in a certain town after dark leading to bodily harm. Some don’t have to worry about having to reference green books to avoid losing their lives by sitting at the wrong counter. Many of us will never experience that, but the hatred and fear aren’t gone. It lingers in the lasting effects of Jim Crow laws and the lack of economic and educational opportunities. It echoes through the hearts of every person of color that has ever felt the pain caused by choosing between the need to be true to one’s self and the fear of being judged and condemned for being different. It is in every tear shed by those who have lost someone because they were caught between impossible choices. While it is a burden that some of us are spared, it is also the responsibility of everyone to take the time to listen to and support those who were not so lucky.
The Hate U Give is a bridge between hearing these things and feeling them as truth. It is a collective pause that we all need to take to build compassion and a place in our hearts for those around us, regardless of race, religion, gender, or any other defining characteristic. The care, honesty, and clarity what Thomas’ writing offers readers is one that I am personally grateful for, and I recommend this book to all.
Final Hoot: Read it.
Rating: 5 out of 5 hoots
Who Should Snag It: Everyone