21 August 2017

The Hate U Give // It’s A Must Read For Everyone

The Hate U Give
Published: 6th April 2017
Source: Bought
Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary, Realistic Fiction
My Rating:
Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this is a powerful and gripping YA novel about one girl's struggle for justice. Movie rights have been sold to Fox, with Amandla Stenberg (The Hunger Games) to star.
A book about fighting for what's right has never felt more apt than right now. I mean, the past few weeks has once more demonstrated that racial equality has not been achieved and it has never been more obvious than in the US. I would go into my rant about the racism demonstrated by the white supremacist nazis who were protesting but I don’t want to work myself up to rage about it. I don’t need to when this book will help fire up that feeling of outrage.

This book has been raved about and hyped up and I was so wary about picking it up and being disappointed so it is safe to say I am thrilled it met all expectations and firmly placed itself as a must read for YA lovers (and book lovers in general). It’s an eye-opening read that will hit you in the feels and it’s certainly one I believe everyone should be reading. I should have read it far sooner but it’s sad to see even after the Black Lives Matter movement has been alive and well for a while it’s a book we still need today as there are still people out there who hold racist beliefs and whose voices are still being heard and not talked down enough.

I wasn’t sure how to talk about this book. I’ve tried three times to write a review which fully captures why this book is important and how it packed such a punch and I’ve been failing epically. At first I thought about writing five reasons why you should read, but there are far too many good reasons to read than that. Then I tried to write my normal review and couldn’t find the write words to explain why this book is good. I kept getting drawn off into tangents and I began talking politics and it all went wrong then. And so I’ve been sat staring as screen with about three different takes on this book all in one post. I’m going to try and be concise. Wish me luck.

This book was eye opening for me. I was aware of the struggles which were on going in America (and around the world, race is not an exclusively US struggle) and I knew about the Black Lives Matter movement. I was even aware that racial profiling was done by the police. I know the statistics for the number of black lives taken by the police last year and I know that more black people are killed by the police than in terror attacks. I know the statistics but actually reading a book where this happens is very different.

Angie Thomas speaks from a place of knowledge in this book. As her acknowledgements say, she grew up in an area very similar to Starr and had similar troubles reconciling herself at home and that at school as she had two very different personas. She knows the struggle of getting out of a poor neighbourhood and making her way in the world and you can see her experiences shining through on the page. You heard it in the way that Starr is viewed by those in her neighbourhood as seeing herself above them as she doesn’t hang out with them as much now she’s at a private school. You see it how she modulates her own self to fit better with her rich, white friends at her private school. There are certain phrases and speech patterns she won’t use so she doesn’t come across as an angry black girl. She is viewed as inherently cool by her white friends simply because she is black she must know what is cool whilst with her black friends at home she isn’t cool. She hangs back. The perception of her in both places is very different. I wouldn’t have even thought about it but it’s something which people do to fit. I know it’s now the same but we all alter ourselves from at home to how we act in a professional environment, like work. We alter ourselves slightly to better fit in. Starr has to do that in everyday life. Seeing her reconcile her two selves into one through the book was interesting. Especially as it was triggered by her witnessing the police shooting a friend and it being a spoken about topic both at home and at school meant her two worlds collided when she had managed to keep them very separate before that.

The skill at which Thomas shines a light on everyday things you don’t even notice was amazing as well. For me, getting pulled over by the police would be nerve-wracking (it’s the police, it’s always a daunting experience) but only in the way you mentally catalogue anything you’ve done wrong and try reassure yourself you’re not guilty. Not because you fear how the police will react to you and whether or not you have to fear the police themselves. Not because you fear they will look at the colour of your skin and you will be at risk. The fact that this is a normal occurrence for many a person and they have a reason to fear not because they’ve done something wrong but simply because the colour of their skin is shocking. It was not comfortable to acknowledge that although we like to believe we are beyond such thing racism is still obvious in the everyday and people get treated differently due to the colour of their skin. That has been very obvious in recent weeks seeing white folks gathering with firearms in a public place and there has been no rollout of the army whilst when black people protested for the killing of someone from their community there have been curfews and a large police presence.

It is not always comfortable seeing Starr’s friends and the way which they act and some of the comments said. I wasn’t always a fan of Starr’s boyfriend, especially with some of the comments he made… but he was good at demonstrating incorrect beliefs and when being taught why they are incorrect. Like the comments about black names being weird and then Starr and her friends demonstrating that in fact white names are weird (different cultures people!) and white people insistence that they split up (fatal horror film choice you should never make and it made me laugh when this then happened in a book I was reading, guess what everyone ended up captured!). Those lighter moments which highlighted comments which are racist but made fun of them were great because those are the comments people are likely to make. That fun interaction of learning about different cultures was good and it was fun and it meant this book never came across like it was preaching at you.

This is just a brilliant book. It’s brilliantly written and it’s smart. It talks about relevant issues in the world and thus should be read by everyone. For me it gave a different perspective and it taught me knew things. It led me to question my immediate response to events like a police shooting and reminded me that there are people involved and now be too quick to believe everything being said on the news. It will make you laugh and make you cry and make you care about all these characters and want to keep them safe. You will rage at the injustices seen and cheer on the small moments of success. When a character learns they’re being racist and stops you will want to let out a small cheer. And when someone is being an idiot you will want to smack them upside the head for being dumb. It’s chock full of all that good stuff I like in a book and I will be trying to force everyone I know to give this a read.

Have you read The Hate U Give? What did you think?

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