Feeling comfortable in your own skin, navigating social norms, and identity formation are themes commonly found in Young Adult Literature. More than likely, these themes exist within books written for people ages 13-22 because of their relevancy to readers’ lives.
Perhaps award winning author Angie Thomas knew this when she wrote the story of Starr, a young woman who struggles to understand and become a strong young woman while living in two very different communities.
Hailing from Jackson, Mississippi, Angie Thomas grew up exposed to the history of racial violence in America, she knew the struggles of the African American community from before the race riots and is currently an activist.
Yet, Thomas also attended an affluent white school, and was comfortable in that community as well: Thomas was able to see and learn about the way everyone views society and thinks about one another, so she became inspired to write about Starr – loosely basing this character on herself.
The Hate U Give is Thomas’s first novel (her second is due to be published in early 2019), and it has won many awards: the William C Morris Award, The Odyssey Award, the Coretta Scott King Award, and the Michael L. Printz Award are just some of them.
The book tells the story of Starr whose childhood best friend is taking her home one night when they are pulled over by a police officer. The friend gets out of the car as instructed, but is worried about his friend Starr and he opens the door to see if she is okay – in this moment the police officer shoots 3 times and kills Starr’s childhood friend in front of her eyes. Starr, the young woman who has grown up in a white school, but lives in a black community, then finds herself the only witness to a death that was unnecessary, and the rest of the story deals with how she and her family decide to handle what she witnessed.
Naturally, this book is for Young Adult readers over the age of 16, and contains violence. It is also a challenged book because of its connection to Black Lives Matter. However, readers should not let this deter them from reading Starr’s story. This is a book that has been loosely ripped from the headlines, and tells a version of the story that so many people never hear.
Books serve to entertain, yes. However, Ms. Thomas wants to make sure that books also educate, and she feels that Starr’s story is one that many readers will connect with and grow because of having read.
More than likely, you will find yourself loving The Hate U Give, but don’t take my word for it - read the book and make your own decision.
5 of 5 stars