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I will be reviewing Angie Thomas’s “The Hate U Give”. If you’ve checked my home page,you would see my reading list and how many books I would be reviewing soon on the blog.
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Let’s jump right in!
I have been experimenting a little with my camera,and I got to take these pictures. This is what the book I’m reviewing looks like.
This is a breakdown of what I would be discussing in this post:
- First impressions
- Summary(without spoilers)
- Issues in the novel/themes
- Lessons learned
- Better than the movie,or not?
When I started reading chapter one of this book, I have to admit that I thought it would be some teenage love story,until I realised the author wanted to introduce the central character,Starr Carter. From chapter one we find out that Starr is a black girl who studies in a school which is dominated by white people. Chapter two gives a serious undertone,we know that something is about to happen,but we wouldn’t have been able to guess what.
In the second chapter there is the use of flashbacks which takes the reader back to Starr’s childhood days,when her family had ‘the talk’;”Starr-Starr,you do whatever they tell you to do. Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden moves. Only speak when they speak to you.” This statement was a warning from Starr’s parents. At first I didn’t know the meaning of this statement,but in the course of reading the book,I understood that as a black man living in the diaspora,you have to always prove that you are not a criminal,and you should never make any sudden movement when pulled over by a white policeman.Khalil,Starr’s friend,wasn’t so lucky.
The first statement that caught my eye was this;
I’ve seen it happen over and over again;a black person gets killed just for being black,and all hell breaks loose….Page 38
Let’s go back to the beginning…
The Hate U Give is a sociological novel written by Angie Thomas in 2017. It is a book that reflects the circumstances of a black teen living in a white dominated society. Through two characters,the effects of racism and the trauma associated with ‘black criminality’ is projected. The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas, which follows 16-year-old Starr Carter as she deals with her trauma after witnessing the shooting of her unarmed friend Khalil by a policeman. Tensions begin to simmer in her neighbourhood, erupting into riots after the policeman is acquitted of the murder, and Starr is forced to choose between staying silent or speaking out in the name of justice.
ISSUES IN THE NOVEL
The Hate U Give was inspired by the #BlackLivesMatter movement in 2017. The themes or issues in the novel is majorly on Racism. The main character,Starr,is a black girl who schools in a white dominated high school. I noticed that she had to change her personality whenever she steps into the school building,she switches her personality, her ghetto accent,her black way of walking or talking,and become more classy. Starr even admits to having to do this in page 73;
…. I just have to be normal Starr at normal Williamson and have a normal day. That means flipping the switch in my brain so that I am Williamson Starr. Williamson Starr doesn’t use slang-if a rapper would say it,she doesn’t say it,even if her white friends do. Slang makes them cool. Slang makes her “hood”. Williamson Starr holds her tongue when people pisses her off so nobody would think she is the ” angry black girl”. Williamson Starr is approachable. No stank-eye,side-eyes,none of that. Williamson Starr is nonconfrontational,she doesn’t give anyone a reason to call her ghetto.Page 73
In the novel,there are stereotypical assumptions of black people. The white policeman who had shot Khalil for example did so because he thought Khalil was going to get a gun from his car,not knowing it was just a hairbrush. Starr watches him die not able to do anything for him.
The book follows the growth of Starr from being an introverted girl who was afraid to speak up against racism and accepting things for how they are, to someone who stands up and is not afraid to stand up for what’s right.
What I really appreciated about the book was that the story not only focuses on the broader issue of being discriminated on the basis of color but also on bits of casual racism. It tries to highlight how even words that meant no harm or weren’t said in a racist sense can affect someone in an entirely negative way. Starr’s friend Hailey constantly makes racist comments about her as well as Maya, who comes from an Asian American heritage. Hailey when confronted about this doesn’t sympathize or tr to understand what it means to be treated a certain way simply because of your culture, color or heritage.
There is also the issue of Identity. Since Starr had no choice but to school in a white dominated school,she faced an identity crises,she had to struggle to fit in by being someone else,by becoming less black. Even in her school she would get side looks from people whenever they see her with her white boyfriend.
Lastly,Starr’s family consists of so many complicated characters. Her dad Maverick runs a grocery store. Maverick was a gang member and went to prison for three years when Starr was a child. Her uncle, Carlos who is like a second father to Starr. Her mom, Linda who’s a tough yet caring mother. Her half older brother Seven and her younger brother Sekani. We see so many conflicts between Maverick and Carlos and how Seven always cares about his other sisters more than Starr. Angie Thomas depicts the life of a complicated family and how no family is perfect.
The only disappointment I got from this book is the fact that at the end,there was no justice for Khalil,the officer wasn’t arrested for killing a black teenage boy,instead they justified Khalil’s death by saying he was a drug dealer. The protest was mainly to let people know that Khalil didn’t deserve to die.
But,one thing I hope for is that The Hate U Give would have an impact on people’s lives,I hope it would change people’s perspective about black people or people of colour.
The novel can be a bit offensive,because it generalizes the fact that white people are racist. But it is a fact that not all of them are.Personally I feel everyone has a lesson to gain from this book,and it is that we should stop this ‘racism’ discussion and just live together and relate with each other as one,even if Black people had a terrible history of being tortured and traded and treated like animals by white people,I feel we should leave it all behind. Even black people can be racist. Racism is a general topic that needs to be resolved in our society. The first way to curb it is to put away the stereotypical notions of different race of people,and just get to know them through their individual personalities.
BETTER THAN THE MOVIE OR NOT?
The book is definitely better in my opinion,because the movie left out some important details.
I would love to write more but I don’t want to leave any spoilers, I left out alot of details about the characters because you have to read the book to understand each and everyone of them,the protest,Starr’s relationship,her school,her neighbourhood. I would highly recommend this book to anyone.
Here are some of my favourite quotes from the book:
… that’s the problem. We let people say stuff,and they say it so much that it becomes okay to them and normal for us. What’s the point of having a voice if you are gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?Page 249
… I never know which Starr I should be.I can use some slang but not too much,some attitude,but not too much attitude,so I’m not a “sassy black girl”. I have to watch what I say,and how I say it,but I can’t sound white.Page 353
Once upon a time,there was a hazel-eyed boy with dimples. I called him Khalil. The world called him a thug. He lived but not nearly long enough,and for the rest of my life,I’ll remember how he died.Page 436
Black Lives Matter
If you don’t know where to get a copy of The Hate U Give,you can easily order yours from this bookstore on Instagram👇👇👇
See you in my next post!!