I listened to the audio version of this book and had to pause it multiple times because my heart was heavy and I felt tears beginning.
At first, when #BlackLivesMatter movement began, I didn’t understand it. All lives should matter right? But then I researched more into it and learned what it really meant. There was an analogy that I read about people being seated at a dinner table and a black person says “I’m hungry” and a white person says “We are all hungry” as the food is then served to the white person only. Yes they are both hungry, but only the white person is getting to eat! That analogy made me realize the meaning of it. The privilege. The outrage. The lack of equality.
All that I knew about this book going into it was that it had something to do with the #BlackLivesMatter movement and that it was read by a lot of people during #Booktubeathon2017.
The story is told from Starrs’ perspective. She is attending a mostly all white school, but living in a mostly black neighborhood that does have gangs around. She is at a party and runs into a childhood friend she hasn’t seen for years, Khalil. He offers to give her a ride home when the party breaks up.
They are heading to Starrs home when a cop pulls them over. STarr memorizes the police officers badge number: 115. We hear her thoughts as heartbreaking events occur: the cop shoots Khalil dead. Starr even has the gun held on her for awhile. The complete and utter BS of the situation got even worse in the aftermath when the “fellow officers” are consoling the cop for murdering the kid. This was the first time I had to pause the audiobook and it wasn’t the last. I was getting angry.
While this may be a work of fiction, it is full of so many truths.
I remember when I was younger being taught that cops were nice (firefighters too) and to wave at them and that they were your friends. (As an adult, I have learned the BS of this sentiment.) Starr was taught to fear and be quiet and to do as they say so you don’t get hurt. It made my heart heavy to reflect on this polarization of lessons.
Starr is scared to come forward for fear of being targeted but when rumors begin and Khalil is said to be a thug, like that dismisses his death as “he deserved it”, she can’t stay quiet any longer.
I feel like The Hate U Give accurately portrayed and shined a light on racism. There wasn’t only racism in the form of white against black, but many blacks against white (Starr dating Chris, a white boy in her class for instance) and also white against Asian (Starrs friend at school who their White friend Whitney makes a racist comment against). People are racist without realizing it and people hurt one another and try to hide their motivations.
Khalil wasn’t the first of her friends to be taken from Starr, her friend Natasha was killed during a driveby too. Starr is not shown to be a perfect and flawless character. She gets angry and she doesn’t know how to fully express that anger. She feels like she has to be two different people-toggling her life at her school versus in the neighborhood. You don’t have to be in the same situation to understand where she is coming from. You don’t have to have grown up the same way to feel her pain. You don’t have to have been the witness to support her during the riots that occur later on.
“A hairbrush is not a gun” becomes the riot call that really makes you as a reader think about how quick to judgement others rush. Yes, a cop does put their life on the line while on duty and yes they can make mistakes, but the way in which this was portrayed and explored, you know that this cop wouldn’t have been so trigger happy had the person he pulled over not been black. That’s obvious and it’s bullshit.
There are way too many real life examples of this exact thing. After a murder the shooter and media try to make the victim out to be less human, to discredit them, and make them out to be less deserving of sympathy. It makes you sick.
T.H.U.G. is powerful and well written not only for the serious subject matter, but for the other events happening in Starr’s life as well.
This story also had a lot of heart warming moments. Starr has a strong family life which is well explored and she grows as a character. She starts out scared and she finds her voice.
The Hate U Give deals with some heavy subject matter and it will probably be a real eye-opener. It does feature a *lot* of adult language, so I wouldn’t recommend this for anyone who is too young to handle that. Otherwise, I would recommend this book to anyone. Everyone. It should be a book that is required reading in schools.
I love books that feature diverse voices and I’m glad that there are more books coming out that feature different voices and authors that take on strong issues and explore and reflect on what is happening in our society.
Very highly recommended!