Author: Angie Thomas
Publication: Balzer & Bray/Harper Collins
Audience: Written for teens, The Hate U Give is also popular with adults. Acclaimed upon publication, it has won the National Book Award, the William C. Morris Award (for the best debut YA; Morris worked in Children’s books at Harper so he would have been happy to see it go to a Harper Collins book), a Printz honor book, Boston Globe/Horn Book Award and more.
My Impressions: This is a compelling story, inspired by the many recent police shootings, and was impossible to put down. However, what really makes the story is the incredible characterization of everyone in the book from Starr’s mother, a nurse; her father, a reformed drug dealer; and her white boyfriend Chris, who isn’t afraid to say they’re dating or to follow her to her neighborhood which at least one of her school friends calls the “ghetto”; her classmates at Williamson Prep and the black headmaster who doesn’t want to challenge the affluent white parents; and the Garden Heights neighbors.
In the last few years, I have read about many black parents having variations of this conversation with their children:
When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the usual birds and the bees . . . . The other was about what to do if a cop stopped me.
Momma fussed and told Daddy I was too young for that. He argued that I wasn’t too young to get arrested or shot.
“Starr-Starr, you do whatever they tell you to do,” he said. “Keep your hands visible. Don’t make any sudden noises. Only speak when they speak to you.”
There is a lot of fiction inspired by headlines and sometimes it comes across as forced. This book was inspired by the 2009 shooting of Oscar Grant and feels very authentic and should create many opportunities for discussion and, one hopes, enlightenment. I will say I usually can't stand books written in the present tense but I stopped noticing pretty early on.
|Debut author Angie Thomas|
Source: My copy came from the Boston Public Library. As part of the Roslindale Library’s Race and Inclusion programming, I led a book discussion on May 17th. I highly recommend, even if or particularly if it is not your usual read. Click here for an excerpt.