Parklands-Turner Teen Readers' Corner - YA Book Club Recommendations

Parklands-Turner Library

Parklands-Turner Teen Readers' Corner - YA Book Club Recommendations

The Hate You Give

The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas
Teen Book Review by Antionette Robinson

“I can't change where I come from or what I've been through,
so why should I be ashamed of what makes me, me?”
- Angie Thomas
Angie Thomas's debut novel The Hate U Give is a ground breaking novel that made waves when it was released in February of 2017. Since then, it has been regarded as one of the best young adult novels to address the racial issues, poverty, and police brutality that the Black community, especially youth, faces every day in America. The Hate U Give tells the story of Starr, a 16-year-old girl who lives with her mother, father and two brothers in Garden Heights. Garden Heights is a neighborhood filled with drugs, gangs, and violence. Rather than attending their neighborhood school, Starr and her brothers all go to Williamson, an upper-class school. Unfortunately, quite the opposite happens. After leaving a spring-break party with her friend Khalil, a cop pulls them over under suspicious circumstances, and Starr watches as her friend is murder by this officer. Thus begins a chain of events in Starr’s life that is all too familiar for many Black people across the country.

The only witness to the murder, Starr is forced into the impossible position of being the voice for Khalil and shining a light on to the injustice both of them faced that night. As the novel progresses, Starr journeys to find her authentic voice within a world that wishes to silence her and her community. She ultimately breaks free of the protective shell that she had created for herself and stands up to speak on behalf of herself, Khalil, and others within her community.

In the beginning, Starr explains that she has two different versions of herself: the Garden Heights Starr and the Williamson Starr. Here,Thomas is cleverly showcasing code switching, a survival tactic employed by many black people. Because of negative stereotypes imposed from outside their communities, many Black people feel compelled to change their behavior based upon who they are around. Running throughout the novel, this ability to change to suit one's environment touches on W.E.B DuBois's double-consciousness theory. A social anthropologist whose ground-breaking techniques continue to shape how research is conducted and codified, DuBois observed how black people must, not only be aware of their Blackness, but also of how perceptions about Blackness affect them in the world. As Starr goes through her journey, she begins to understand her double consciousness and how it impacts her life.

Thomas does a great job of balancing heavy and thought-provoking moments with light and airy ones. While the plot sets out to expose the harsher realities of police brutality, The Hate U Give is a heart-warming story of a teenage girl going through a traumatic experience and finding a way to rallying her family and community behind her. Thomas's novel also gives readers a unique view on the Black experience in America and how police brutality affects the lives of so many people. Often times when police brutality occurs, these incidences are seen through the lens of what people want to believe or what they already believe based on stereotypes. Here, Thomas shifts the narrative to show how life appears from the viewpoint of the people who are suffering under police violence. Not only does Thomas name her book after Tu Pac’s song Thug life--"the hate you give little infants f-cks everybody"--but she also references this song and its message all throughout the book. The point being, how you treat children, the poor and the needy has a reverse effect on us all and can only cause us all pain--Khalil’s death being the ultimate example. The overall message here is that Black lives matter, Black voices matter, Black children matter; and no good will come from trying to silence those voices. They will only grow louder.

A representative voice, Starr’s journey was not just hers alone, but it was the journey of millions of Black children all across this country and the pain they face every day. Her story is the story of every black person who has been gunned down by a cop who has no regard for life. The Hate U Give is the story of Black parents being afraid to send their kids out into the world because they don’t know if their babies will come back. Yet it also is the story of friendship, family, love, change, acceptance and being true to oneself. The Hate U Give is the story of a community that has lost so much and yet has so much life, love and fight left in them. If you read no other book this year, make sure that this is the book you choose. It’s a story that everyone should read because it is the story of a people who deserve to be seen as more than false stereotypes, but rather as the compassionate, transformative humans that they are.
    The Hate You Give by Angie Thomas