Book Review: The Hate U Give

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas was one of the most-talked-about books of 2017. It was published February 28, 2017 and a film adaptation was announced, like, ten seconds later. The Hate U Give was immediately branded as a "must-read" novel - but also immediately became one of the most-banned-books in the US this year. 

Sidebar: Banned Books are, basically, books that somebody, somewhere has requested to have removed from a library - public or school - citing the content as inappropriate or offensive. Libraries, proudly, do not support the censorship of books - meaning, we let people read what they want to read. If a books' subject or topic is controversial, instead of removing those books - we try to let readers decide for themselves. 

So the controversial topic here is an incident involving a police officer shooting an unarmed, black 16-year-old and the fallout that effects an entire community as the legal proceedings follow. 

Here's the summary from the publisher: 

"Sixteen-year-old Starr Carter moves between two worlds: the poor neighborhood where she lives and the fancy suburban prep school she attends. The uneasy balance between these worlds is shattered when Starr witnesses the fatal shooting of her childhood best friend Khalil at the hands of a police officer. Khalil was unarmed.

Soon afterward, his death is a national headline. Some are calling him a thug, maybe even a drug dealer and a gangbanger. Protesters are taking to the streets in Khalil's name. Some cops and the local drug lord try to intimidate Starr and her family. What everyone wants to know is: what really went down that night? And the only person alive who can answer that is Starr.

But what Starr does or does not say could upend her community. It could also endanger her life."

This book was inspired by the #blacklivesmatters movement . Ladysmith, BC is a long way from Sanford, Florida where George Zimmerman - a white man - was acquitted of charges of murder for shooting 17 year old Trayvon Martin. Perhaps we saw the protests and riots that followed Zimmerman's acquittal on the news, but I'm glad that The Hate U Give gave me a look at what it might feel like for the individuals, families and communities immediately affected by such a tragedy. It's a heavy topic, but it's presented in a way that is so readable - I read it cover-to-cover in a weekend.

Who'd like this book: people who like realistic fiction about teenagers, their friends, their families, their relationships and enjoy reading about thought-provoking, tough and relevant issues. If you shy away from violence (nothing too graphic, but some gang-related violence pops up throughout) or salty language (F bombs and other swear words abound - but I feel it really contributes to the creation of an authentic voice and it doesn't retract from the narrative.)

Also: we have The Hate U Give on Audible, and the narration is excellent. So download the free app and come see me in the library to get listening. From what I hear, the film adaptation is in post-production now - so you've still got time to read the book first.


What have you been reading lately? Would you like your writing to be featured on the blog? We are always looking for LSS staff & students to contribute their book reviews, rants and/or raves.  Write a review of your most favourite, least favourite, or most recent read and email it to allison.girard@sd68.bc.ca 

allison girard