The Hate U Give is a contemporary Young Adult novel that follows sixteen year old Starr, a black girl living in America and caught between two worlds: the predominantly black, poor neighbourhood in which she lives, and the fancy, mainly white prep school she attends on the other side of town. The novel begins as Starr attends a party in her local neighbourhood, before a gang dispute and shots being fired leads her and her childhood best friend, Kalil, to flee. On the way home from the party the two are pulled over by a policeman, and Kalil, unarmed, is shot and murdered at his hands. Kalil’s murder than becomes a national headline, and Starr has to struggle with how much she should speak out about Kalil’s death, both in her dangerous neighbourhood and to her wealthy school friends who would not understand. Not only is this novel a sensational read, it also discuses paramount issues of our time and is infinitely important. Everyone, of any age or race, should read this novel.
This novel has come about exactly the right time. Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel predominantly explores the killing of unarmed black people at the hands of police officers, which is extremely topical and necessary to discuss in the world today. The protests and uprisings that arise from police violence is also explored, and how people can find their voice and attempt to bring about change. As explained by Kalil at the beginning of the novel, ‘THUG LIFE’, as coined by Tupac and the inspiration for the title of the novel, stands for ‘The Hate U Give Little Infants Fucks Everybody’, which is certainly a theme throughout the novel. The messages of this novel are clear and hard hitting, but are also subtle and complex; it questions commonly accepted views such as ‘drug dealers are bad’, ‘cops are corrupt’ etc.
Not only is this novel educational, it is extremely entertaining and engrossing. Starr is a fabulous central character and is extremely humorous, and the story lines in this novel surrounding school and family drama are relatable and entertaining. I loved the family dynamics in this novel; all the characters were real and vivid feeling, and you got to know each of them on a personal level, Starr’s mother being one of my favourites. Furthermore, the action surrounding the local gang rivalries keeps you hooked and on the edge of your seat. How influential and educational this novel is is almost disguised under an exciting, page turner of a story.
The effect that the events in this novel had on Starr in particular were really hard hitting to read about. Starr becomes not only traumatised from witnessing Kalil’s murder, but also extremely guilt ridden. Among all of her boyfriend, prom and Tumblr drama we are reminded that Starr is just a normal teenager; this kind of thing can, and does happen, to real people. I hope this novel will capture the wide audience of young, white, middle-class readers and open them up to a poverty they might not be familiar with, and issues they may not realise are as common as they are. Ultimately I hope it inspires people to change their mindsets.
I thought this novel was brilliant. I thoroughly enjoyed the story line, while also finding it to be extremely emotional, impactful and eyeopening. I do not believe it can be overly expressed how important this novel is. Furthermore, I believe its YA writing and target audience was perfectly chosen, and I hope it will be really educational for many people, both young and old.