Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Hate U Give was chosen as one of Diverse Book Club’s September books, and I’m so glad because it finally gave me the push I needed to read this highly praised YA title. My review is part book review, part social discussion because I can’t talk about one without talking about the other.

From the back cover:

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?”

Sixteen-year-old Starr lives in two worlds: the poor neighbourhood where she was born and raised and her posh high school in the suburbs. The uneasy balance between them is shattered when Starr is the only witness to the fatal shooting of her unarmed best friend, Khalil, by a police officer. Now what Starr says could destroy her community. It could also get her killed.

My Thoughts:

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, The Hate U Give is a YA novel that is being talked about everywhere and I can see why! Any novel that focuses on important subject matter, highlights the wrongs of today’s society, should be read and spoken about.

It was the humour in the early pages that pulled me into this novel:

“No lie, every time a sneaker is cleaned improperly, a kitten dies.”

As a fellow trainer freak, I relate 100% to that statement, all my trainers are in mint condition, still kept in their original boxes when I’m not wearing them. Now, you’re probably wondering why I’m talking about humour and trainers when there’s a much more important subject in this book – as a main protagonist much younger than I am, it immediately allowed me to identify with Starr; this is fiction but it made Starr ‘real’ to me, and if the circumstances were different, I could have been her. And I think in this novel you need to feel a connection to Starr, even if it starts with a pair of trainers!

As I continued reading this novel, there was so much truth in it:

“When I was twelve, my parents had two talks with me. One was the birds and the bees […] The other talk was about what to do if a cop stopped me.”

As sad as that is, that’s the reality of the society we live in today. Young black boys and girls must be warned that police do not only ‘serve and protect’.

What I’m finding hard, as I sit hear writing this review, is to focus on the novel itself, rather than the social/race discussions this book creates. At times, this book made me sad, angry, determined, a whole range of emotions.

When I finished this novel, I had to ask myself, do I review this objectively or subjectively, so here’s a bit of both. Objectively, this is a YA novel and for its target audience, I cannot fault it. Though the subject matter is difficult, it’s easy to read, in the sense that the language is accessible to a younger reading audience. Subjectively, I wish this was an adult novel, written for an older audience, so the themes could run deeper and the subject matter explored in more depth. At times, I felt my anger wasn’t reflected on the pages and that is why I mentioned earlier how important it was for me to connect with Starr. To a younger reading audience, this should be mandatory reading material and I’m sure there are many young black girls that relate to Starr 100% and even felt Starr said and did what they want to, made them feel empowered.

I just want to touch on one subject mentioned in this novel – riots. I like that these featured in the novel because riots are happening on our streets. Please don’t just condemn them but try to understand them. When I was at university, I wrote my dissertation on the 2011 London riots – conducting the research opened my eyes to a lot of things and so I want to stress the need to not condemn things you don’t understand – it’s so much more than “mob mentality” – I’m not saying I agree with rioting but I understand why people riot and I believe people will continue to riot until the inequalities and injustices are addressed, and I don’t just mean at ‘street level.’ See, I told you I run the risk of starting social discussions! So, I’ll hush and quote one of my favourite quotes: “a riot is the language of the unheard” – Martin Luther King Jr.

While I reign myself back into this novel specifically, I hope you can see the power of this novel, the discussions it starts. I can’t express in words the sadness I feel at these senseless killings of black people and I don’t pretend to know how to fix society but if this book gets even a few people talking, maybe even changes someone’s prejudices, then it’s a raging success because Black Lives Matter and we need to not shy away from this topic.

This book is available to buy from: Amazon UK / Book Depository

43 thoughts on “Book Review: The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

  1. Great review Janel! I probably won’t read this one myself, purely because of the writing style being YA but I’m so happy that this novel blew up and stayed in people’s minds and conversations. I wish this could have been an adult novel too, and if you have any suggestions of adult novels similar to this one, I’d love to know about them!

    Black Lives Matter is one of the most important, if not the most important movements of today. I continue to keep my self educated on the prejudice, discrimination, violence and racism towards black people to know all the facts and figures, and it enrages me. I can’t even begin to understand the thought process of racists???? How does it make sense???? How do they get to that mind set????

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Racists don’t think, that’s the problem!! Babies are born a blank slate, racism is a learned behaviour passed down through generations, I don’t even know if it can ever be eradicated completely, it’s ingrained so deeply in some people and social institutions and that’s a scary thought!

      I’m in search of a similar adult novel myself, so I’ll let you know if I find one. There must be a some out there 🤔

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I just don’t understand how someone can wholly believe a person is bad because they have a different skin colour. Like surely they can see all the good black people in society??! It blows my mind how some people can be so set in their ways!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I have no answers because I don’t understand it either! I watched a documentary once about racism and a they asked a white man if he’d let a black midwife deliver his wife’s baby and he said no, he’s rather the baby die than be delivered by a black person – I mean, seriously, can you fucking believe that!!

        Liked by 2 people

  2. Great review! This book broke my heart. I agree that everyone, specially young people, should read this. It’s eye-opening for those of us who aren’t black and I’m sure many people would benefit from more empathy and understanding.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. And that’s one of the things I love about this book, it informs people, it’s fiction but it reflects a very real life experience for some people. I just hope the film stays true to the “message”.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. A really thoughtful review – I always find it hard when I feel emotional / strongly about a subject to separate my feelings on the subject and the book itself.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. This was such a brilliant review. I am so glad you ended up liking this one. I agree with you, I would love to see this as an adult book, maybe from the perspective of the parents? They were GREAT. I also find that these kinds of topics aren’t explored enough, especially in YA, so I am really glad that this is in fact YA. And I am so glad it blew up the way it did.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thanks! I don’t think you can dislike this book based on its content but if you don’t read YA, I can understand why people wouldn’t pick this one up and that’s fair enough. I’m not too hot on what’s trending in YA fiction but it seems this book was needed so I’m very happy Thomas delivered it – I just hope the film does it justice. Starr’s mum was fantastic – I could so see her character being played by Taraji P. Henson lol

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Janel…this is a fantastic heartfelt review!! I think approaching it objectively and subjectively, like you did, was perfect.
    You may be happy to know that this book is currently being filmed 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you, I’m glad it worked bcos I originally wrote two mini reviews, one subjectively, one objectively but I felt this way expressed my reading experience better.
      I did hear this is being made into a film- I’m just hoping the film does it justice!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Let’s hope it does!
        I’ve been thinking about your review today. I just love when books touch you in a profound way and this clearly did that for you. That is just one of the many many reasons why I love to read. And blogging is a wonderful platform to have amazing conversations about these wonderful books!

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Loved reading this, I’m always interested in this so I wanted to check this out although the YA angle makes me hesitant… I watched the film Detroit a couple of weeks ago and wow…

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Brilliant review Janel. This book sounds so important and one I’ve been meaning to read for the longest time! I’ve got it on my TBR for December so really looking forward to discovering it. 🤗

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I think so yes, if he’s a mature 13, especially as you’ll be there to talk to him about anything that occurs. I want my son to read it but he’s only 11 and I was thinking when he’s 13 I’m going to encourage him to read it (he hates reading so it’s going to be a challenge! And thanks for using my link to purchase ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

  8. you hit the nail on the head in describing how its importance as ya novel could have been transformed had it been a more adult novel. in some ways i wish there was an adult version to go along with this

    Liked by 2 people

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