Book Review: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

Book Review: The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give is the story of Starr Carter and the aftermath of a life-changing experience. Her whole world is turned upside down when she witnesses the death of her friend, Khalil Harris, at the hands of a police officer. Her involvement in the investigation opens up old wounds and unveils the harsh reality of racism and police brutality against black people.

Labeled a drug dealer and “gangbanger” by the community, the media justifies Khalil’s death because of his “activities.” The police mistook a black hairbrush he was holding to be a gun and shot him, they said. It was unavoidable, they said. Starr had a choice between speaking up for her friend or remaining silent. She was hesitant to speak up, saying that “if [she] saw [police brutality] happen to somebody, [she] would have the loudest voice, making sure the world knew what went down. Now [she is] that person, and [she is] too afraid to speak.” In the end, she chose to speak up and actively participated in protests and movements.

This inner turmoil, uncertainty, and honest emotions make The Hate U Give a learning experience. It shows a smaller, more detailed account of living in a world where your skin color – something you can’t control – dictates your freedom. It’s upsetting to know that the ones who are responsible for protecting us are also the ones you need to be wary of. 

The Hate U Give gives us a glimpse into the everyday life of Starr. It tells the story of her relationships with the people around her, her need to fit into a school with students who don’t look like her, dealing with passive racism, and the unity amongst her family despite their differing views.  

Inspired by the shooting of Oscar Grant, this book was eye-opening. What I always considered far away or only in the news, was actually happening to Starr. Even after I finished reading the book, I was haunted by the story and its characters. Starr’s strength empowered me. No matter how flawed the society she lived in, she made me believe that we have to be the change we want. Your voice, she reminds us, is your strongest asset.

Your voice is your strongest asset. ”

— Starr Carter