Hey, everyone! I hope y’all are having a great day, and today I’ll be reviewing The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
The Hate U Give is Angie Thomas’s debut novel, and it’s been garnering a lot of critical and commercial success.
So critics have been giving it so much praise, but it’s also been topping the New York Times bestselling list for young adult fiction. So it’s, you know, it’s been everywhere.
There’s been a lot of buzz. And in my opinion, the most remarkable thing about this book is the fact that it’s basically a response to the Black Lives Matter movement.
She’s in the passenger seat of her black, male friend’s car when they’re pulled over by a white cop, and this exchange leaves her black, male friend dead on the street and Starr just emotionally scarred.
And what follows this incident is a media whirlwind, but also an engaging and complicated experience regarding family and neighbors and friends and so much more.
Angie Thomas touches on a lot of different subjects in this book and she does so very effectively.
And this book is frustrating and painful, but also funny and moving.
It’s frustrating and heartbreaking to read because you’re reading about these situations in which there is just blatant discrimination and such a glaringly obvious lack of justice, and what amplifies this frustration and this heartbreak is the fact that this is barely even fiction.
It’s highly reflective of real life and that’s the rub.
Because you can turn the last page of this book and close it and you don’t feel relief.
You might feel galvanized or inspired or pained, but you can’t brush off the story like it’s fantasy because it’s not.
It’s realistic fiction, with a heavy emphasis on the first word.
There’s a lot of really good stuff an Angie Thomas’s debut novel.
Most obviously, there’s an excellent discussion on race and socio-economic background.
Starr lives in an underprivileged, predominantly black neighborhood, but goes to a private school in a different neighborhood where most of the students are predominantly wealthy and white.
She struggles with portraying two different versions of herself depending on the two different audiences and she talks about how she doesn’t want those two spheres to interfere with each other.
Less obvious is Thomas’s great portrayal of family.
There are countless YA novels where the parents are absent, family’s hardly ever mentioned, but in this one, Starr’s family is such an important component both in Starr’s real life but also just in the novel itself.
Another thing Angie Thomas does well is her depiction of a specific subculture.
She incorporates slang and songs and gangs in a way that feels very real and very immersive.
It reminds me just a little bit of the unapologetic way Junot Diaz incorporates his experience into his writing.
As you might expect, this is a pretty dark book for a lot of the pages, but there are also really great lines sprinkled throughout.
This book is painful, sure, but it’s not hopeless, and I like that.
So like I said, there are a lot of great things going on in this book, but it’s not flawless. It makes me a little scared to criticize this book because I don’t want anyone, for even a second, to misconstrue any of my criticism as any degree of disdain for the novel’s complete message.
Because that’s not the case at all.
But I think I would be remiss to skirt around the things I didn’t like for the sake of appearances.
So things I wasn’t crazy about.
The writing is too explicit for my taste, and I don’t mean explicit like vulgar, parental advisory, I mean explicit as in everything is spelled out for the reader so clearly.
There’s nothing left for the reader to infer because we’re told everything.
The writing is so definitively explicative, it can honestly be a little exhausting to read.
In terms of the old adage, “show verses tell,” I think Angie Thomas does a lot of telling.
And I do love the message and the concept of this book, but I remember while I was reading, it wouldn’t be uncommon for me to think, “I wonder how much better this story could be in the hands of a different author.”
The other main element of the novel that I didn’t really enjoy was the pacing. I feel like the pacing was notably inconsistent, with some sections being really dragged out, but then some important events only getting a paragraph of attention.
One example of a main event in the book is a trial hearing and the trial hearing is a really big deal for both Starr and also for this entire movement.
But it’ll appear and then disappear in the storyline, which made me want a better structured timeline and a more consistent frame of reference.
And I feel like that could’ve been fixed if the pacing has been adjusted.
So the writing style and the pacing those are things I just wasn’t a really big fan of.
But do those flaws even really matter in the grand scheme of things?
I’m compelled to say that they don’t, because the significance of this book, the fact that it was written, the fact that it’s published, and the fact that it’s successful the fact that it exists, you know that significance outweighs subpar writing or a fluctuating pace.
This book is meaningful to so many people and it can do a lot to educate someone, to inspire someone, to impact someone, and isn’t that the importance of literature to begin with? I don’t know.
I’m not particularly sure that I enjoyed reading The Hate U Give in terms of emotion or entertainment, but at the same time, I don’t doubt for a second that this book is worth reading.
To my knowledge, it’s the only YA novel out there that is about this topic.
If you know of any other YA novels that are about the Black Lives Matter movement or about police brutality, let me know.
But in the moment that I’m recording this, this is the only book like it, and that’s worth so much.
So ultimately, I didn’t really love this book, but I love what it stands for, and because of that, I would recommend it to everyone.
It’s not perfect, but it’s important, and maybe that’s worth more in the long run.
Bow I’m going to go into a quick spoiler section about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, so if you haven’t read this book and you don’t want to be spoiled, I would advise leaving in 3… 2… 1…
But still, I was hoping. I was hoping that there would be justice.
But I suppose if there had been justice, I would have questioned Angie Thomas’s decision to, you know, change the ending so that it didn’t reflect real life anymore.
So she stayed true to how these trials always go, but it was still upsetting.
It’s never not upsetting, you know? I didn’t cry throughout the entire book until the last few pages when Starr begins listing all these victims who lost their lives to police brutality.
That was remarkably effective, extremely provocative, and just a really strong conclusion, I thought.
Unrelated, but regarding writing, there were two passages in this book that I highlighted when I was reading it on my Nook because I just didn’t like these sentences for some reason.
One is in response to Starr saying “love you” for the first time to Chris over text and she writes, “It’s as foreign as a Spanish word I haven’t learned yet.” “It’s as foreign as a Spanish word I haven’t learned yet.” I dislike this simile so much, I had to stop reading and highlight it so that I could add it in my review. “It’s as foreign as a Spanish word I haven’t learned yet.” I was not here for that.
The other passage that I highlighted because I didn’t like it was an example of how many needlessly explicative I feel like Angie Thomas’s writing is sometimes.
She writes, “One-Fifteen’s father is his voice, but I’m Khalil’s.
The only way people will know his side of the story is if I speak out.” That’s literally one of the main conflicts of the entire novel is Starr struggling with this decision to tell the truth and speak out and share Khalil’s side of the story.
I just don’t think that needed to be explicitly stated for the reader to know what’s at stake.
I just wish the writing would have given the reader a little bit more credit to take away these central themes on their own.
To counterbalance those two examples, though, I have a couple of lines that I really enjoyed.
The first one is when Starr’s doing an interview and she says, “It seems like they always talk about what he may have said, what he may have done, what he may have not done.
I didn’t know a dead person could be charged with his own murder, you know?”
When I read that, I put my Nook down and I was like, “She did that.
She went there.” Yas, queen.
And then there was another one that I didn’t highlight but I loved it so much I still remember it, but I don’t know it verbatim.
It was something along the lines of I hear his laugh and his laughs makes me laugh, so I know it’s Chris.
It was something really simple like that, but it was just such a cute sentiment. Something I really loved about this book is the way that Angie Thomas incorporates a lot of conversations about race that can seem maybe a little tangential but are so important to me.
The conversation where Chris asks about a black people having “weird” names that conversation was so important to me.
Literally every conversation with Haley being her stupid, obnoxious, self-righteous self. Haley was just so symbolic of how some people can be so blind to their own crimes.
I wish Maya had been better developed because she honestly kind of seemed like a throwaway ally that existed just to make Starr more validated in her anger against Haley.
But Haley’s dialogue was always so intentionally self-exonerating, I was really impressed by how Angie Thomas just captured this really common sentiment any time Haley talked.
Like, my college roommate has a friend from back home and her friend likes to call me Ling Ling.
And they laugh like it’s just a joke, but I guess they don’t understand the entitlement that comes with making jokes like that.
I felt exactly like Maya when she was upset that Haley asked her whether she ate a cat for Thanksgiving, and I felt exactly like Starr who was angry when Haley made that fried chicken joke on the basketball court.
People like Haley make Maya and Starr feel like they’re not allowed to be offended, oh, because it was just a joke.
The thing is the people like Haley are not in a position to be saying things like that or to be cracking jokes like that, and it’s infuriating because so many people are going to look at the situation and think, “Oh, why are you overreacting?
Can’t you take a joke? You’re so sensitive. You’re such a social justice warrior,” and sure, I can be sensitive, and sure, I can be outspokenly liberal, but those traits aren’t an excuse for someone to put the blame on me or Maya or Starr when Haley’s the one being ignorant.
She incorporates so many conversations like that in this book that I just never see anywhere else in YA and I appreciate it so much.
One scene that really hurt my heart was when Big Mav is forced to the ground by the cops in front of his children.
And that scene is just so startling because Big Mav is such a huge figure, both in Starr’s life, but also in this neighborhood, you know.
He has so much power, he has so much authority, and he demands so much respect from everyone around him.
But that instantly dissipates the second a cop comes onto the scene, because then, anything could be interpreted as a cause for a bullet.
That just destroys me.
One decision that I thought was super intentional and super just excellent, it was an excellent choice was Angie Thomas’s decision to make Starr’s uncle a cop.
The fact that her uncle was a cop added such a unique element of tension to the rest of the conflict.
Please, let me know what you thought about The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas.
It’s really such an important book and there are so many seeds for discussion, so I’d really love to hear your thoughts on this book or on the topics that this book brings up.
Thanks so much for reading, I hope y’all have a fantastic day, and happy reading.
====================================================Purchase Link: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M0614T9