The Hate U Give was the Diversely Booked March read. Want to learn more about the Diversely Booked Book Club? Click here!
I know that some people are wary of books with crazy hype behind them, and there is no book more hyped this year than THUG, but I assure you no book has ever deserve the hype and the praise more than this one. You will not be disappointed. There aren’t enough stars in the world to show just how good it is.
Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.
Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil’s name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.
But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life.
I’m going to start this off by saying The Hate U Give will without a doubt be the most important book you read this year, for about a million reasons. A lot of people want to say that THUG is only popular because it is a Black Lives Matter book, that any book with this plot would have been a NYT Bestseller. But the fact is, not only is this book incredibly important, it is also amazingly well written. It is raw, and honest, and so beautifully unapologetic. To call it anything less than a masterpiece would be an insult and an understatement. Angie Thomas has proven herself to be an absolutely masterful writer. The Hate U Give grabs you from the first page and it does not let go.
Every moment of this book is raw and honest. Some scenes are (obviously) quite dark and jarring and upsetting, some are endearing and adorable and downright hilarious, and every single moment is real. There was never a time where I wanted to speed through a scene or chapter to “get to the next good bit” so to speak. It’s just all good.
The characters are another thing that really sets THUG apart. I don’t want to say much, because I want you all to get to read and discover them like I did, but it is just A+ character building all around. Not a single character is lacking in complexity or development. Angie let’s each of them shine without ever shying away from their faults or fears.
I think the most impressive thing about The Hate U Give is how seamlessly weaves together a variety of intersections–race, identity, culture, family, language, class, community, the list goes on. This is not just a book about a black teen who gets killed by a police officer, or about how society responds to it. That is the center of the novel yes, but it is about so much more than that. It is about what it is like being black in the United States. It is about embracing your culture and language in a society that tells you something is wrong with your culture and language. It is about a black teenage girl learning to speak up against a racist system that stole her best friend’s life and then blamed him for it, and learning to stand up to people she considers her friends when they want her to pretend she isn’t black when they’re around. It’s about the desperate black teens who get roped into selling drugs just to provide for their families, and the society that condemns them for it without ever doing anything to change the circumstances that forced them down that path to begin with.
The Hate U Give is about the epidemic that is police violence against the black community and every thread that holds up the system of oppression that enables that violence to continue.
I’m awful at writing reviews about books I loved, because I just want to talk about ALL THE THINGS, but I can’t because spoilers and also nobody has time to read that. I could honestly write a book about everything that makes The Hate U Give so fantastic and important. THUG is a blessing of a book and I am so, so grateful to have been able to experience it. Just please, if you only read 1 book this year, make it this one. And once you’ve read it, hit me up on Twitter because I NEED to gush about it more.