Before reading this book I listened to an episode of 88 Cups of Tea where Yin Chang interviewed Angie Thomas about The Hate U Give. Angie made some comments about writing diverse books that kind of rubbed me the wrong way, but I read this book anyway because it was a book club pick. I am so glad I did. And now I completely understand what Angie was trying to say. Writing diverse books is about so much more than just making a character have brown skin. It’s about telling real stories about what happens to people who live lives very different from the one I am living. This book is powerful.
Starr lives in the inner city, the ghetto essentially, but she attends school in the suburbs, where she and her siblings are some of the only black kids. Starr doesn’t really fit in at home, and she doesn’t fit in at school. Actually, she considers herself to have two personas. At school she makes sure to always speak properly, she doesn’t talk to her friends about where she’s from, and she dates a white boy.
One night, right at the beginning of the book, Starr attends a party with her brother’s sister (it’s complicated) and runs into a former best friend. When shots are fired, he drives her home. Except that they’re stopped by the police on the way, and the police officer shoots Khalil for basically no reason. After that Starr’s whole world is turned upside down. The police want to interview her, she’s afraid to speak out about what happened, and she learns some things about Khalil that she struggles to believe.
I loved that this book jumps right into the active. It caused me to feel so many emotions. I was enraged at what happened to Khalil and Starr. I was astonished that kids in this country live the way the kids in this book live. I was saddened that racial injustice continues to exist in this country. I think this book should be required reading for every high school student. It’s beautiful and awful. Hopeful and depressing. It’s very well done and so, so important.
I get it now, Angie Thomas. Diverse books need to be written by diverse authors. I cannot wait to read what you write next.
Rating: 5 Stars