My rating: 5 of 5 stars
I had been hearing about this book everywhere and knew the movie was coming out soon (just came our Friday) so hurried and got on the wait list at my local library. After waiting a few months, it was finally my turn!
The Hate U Give is the story of Starr, a young African American teenager caught between two worlds. One night, her and her friend Khalil are stopped by a police officer. Khalil is shot in the back three times by the police officer and killed. The police officer claims he was reaching for a gun (which turned out to be a hairbrush). Meanwhile, Starr attends a mostly white school and her parents encourage her to keep her involvement in the shooting private. But her world starts to crumble when her mostly white friends begin talking about Khalil’s death, unaware that he was her friend.
Unfortunately, this story is not unique. But, seeing the story through the eyes of a young, African American girl was unique for me. Having grown up in a white, middle class family in suburbia, I’ve never experienced some of the struggles Starr lives with on a daily basis: the drive by shootings, the drugs, the gangs. But this book transported me into Starr’s world and gave me a glimpse into her life.
Books like this are always thought provoking and give new perspective to heated social issues. It makes you think about how the media and justice system portray the victim in relation to the perpetrator. In police brutality cases, the media can frequently portray the officer as the victim and we often lose sight of the true victim – the African American men and women who have lost their lives.
This book reminded me very much of Beartown but with a different underlying social topic. While Beartown discussed issues of rape and sexual assault, The Hate U Give focused on police brutality. But the underlying theme in both books is how the community responds following the incident and people begin to take sides, further perpetuating the divide.
I should also mention that the audiobook is fantastic. It was one of those audiobooks where you feel like you’re listening to a movie. And I could absolutely feel and hear Starr’s struggle and strife. Incredible narrator.
I think this would make a great discussion book for a book club meeting, especially those clubs looking for something told from the perspective of a person of color. I cannot wait to see the movie.