I read this book on recommendation from a very good friend. I love a good YA book, particularly one with an accolade from John Green on the cover. I was excited to give it a go.
The hate u give (THUG) is the story of sixteen year old Starr, a black girl living in two distinctly different worlds. With her dysfunctional family in the impoverished Garden Heights neighbourhood and with her white boyfriend and friends at Williamson Prep. When Starr becomes the only witness to a heinous crime, she has to make a decision. Is it time to speak up?
As with a lot of YA books, THUG dealt with a lot of difficult themes. On the surface it is the story of police brutality and the shooting of an innocent black boy, a story of racism. But it is so much more than that. This is the story of Starr. A young black girl who was in the wrong place at the wrong time, who lost her best friend, Khalil, and now is faced with a decision much older than her years. With pressure from her community- the community that wants revenge and the ‘King Lords’ who want to remain under the radar- as well as from black activists, she has to find her voice. You have to remember that she is just an ordinary sixteen year old girl. Could you have done it?
The story is very topical, unfortunately. It’s a story of bravery. One that shouldn’t really have to be told. It draws upon similar situations in history, from Emmett Till to Oscar Grant. There must be hundreds of ‘Starrs’ all across the world, all with a story to tell. The strength of this novel lies in its humanity. It’s fiction but it feels solidly grounded in truth. Until I read the Author’s Note at the end, I didn’t fully appreciate why.
I’ve just read that it’s been banned in some schools in Texas. This is what Angie Thomas said on Twitter:
I’m saddened to hear that a school district in Texas banned #TheHateUGive, but I’m also empowered – you’re basically telling the kids of the Garden Heights of the world that their stories shouldn’t be told. Well, I’m going to tell them even louder. Thanks for igniting the fire.
It says everything. Read it.