Book Review: The Hate U Give

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“The Hate U Give” book cover.

After reading The Hate U Give, it is clear how the book became a number one New York Times best-seller one week after its release and then a critically acclaimed film less than two years later. The Hate U Give is a novel by Angie Thomas centered around the experience of a black teen girl named Starr Carter and her inner conflict after witnessing her friend, Khalil, get shot and killed by a police officer. Throughout the book, she develops the confidence to testify before a grand jury in hopes of indicting the officer responsible, while also navigating her personal relationship with race.

The book is set in a mostly black inner-city neighborhood named Garden Heights, which is located in the southern United States. After a party there, Khalil drives Starr home, but on the way they get pulled over by police and the officer shoots Khalil three times. It is this event that triggers Starr to reevaluate.

Starr grew up in Garden Heights, but she attends a mostly white high school called Williamson Prep. It becomes evident that she changes herself depending on which of these two environments she is in. These two contrasting worlds create a conflict in Starr, and she must navigate the divide between them and the relationship between her race and identity. 

Starr was raised to be cautious and was taught from an early age the do’s and do not’s of interacting with police to minimize the risk of police brutality against her. As the story progresses, she gains confidence and goes from an uncertain, reluctant, and passive witness to the racism around her to an outspoken activist for her community. 

The story is from Starr’s point of view and the writing style is casual, almost as if she were telling this story to a friend as it was happening.  This creates a deep emotional feeling throughout the book, and it makes the reader feel an empathetic connection to Starr and her struggles. While the book is from her perspective and therefore all events are viewed through her eyes, she manages to have a somewhat objective view of the events in the story while maintaining the emotional depth. It is likely this, coupled with the heavy topics being discussed, that made this book so popular.

The Hate U Give is a truly incredible and greatly treasured novel about struggle, speaking up, and overcoming adversity. Angie Thomas is an incredible author who knows how to captivate an audience and how to make her readers feel Starr’s struggles. The Hate U Give is powerful and would be a great addition to the bookshelf of adolescents and adults alike.